Last night para-athlete Alice Tai was named OCS Young Sportsperson of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony held at BAFTA on London’s Piccadilly. The event was attended by some of the of the best known names in British sport. Tai, who competes under the S10, SB9 and SM10 classification, also won the Regional Award for Athletes with a Disability category. She was presented with the Young Sportsperson of the Year award by the 2008 winner, gymnast Sam Oldham, who won an Olympic Bronze medal at London 2012 and Mark Foster, former 50m freestyle world record holder.
In a new format, the awards, now in their 15th year, were hosted by Gabby Logan and celebrated the success of some of the former winners in addition to helping the latest crop of young sporting talent. Beth Tweddle MBE who took home a bronze medal in gymnastics from London 2012, and winner of the OCS Young Sports Person of the Year Award in 2002, was recognised for her contribution as the YSP athlete who has made the biggest contribution. She was presented with her award by two gold medal winning Olympians - Katherine Grainger and Tim Ballie.
Also on the winners’ podium were swimmer Nathan Theodoris, who was the YSP Regional Winner and Taekwondo specialist Jeamy Navarro-Schrank, winner of the YSP Rising Star award. Theodoris was presented with the award by former cricketer David Gower and rugby player Rory Underwood, while Navarro-Schrank accepted her award from former sports minister Richard Caborn and golfer Max Martin, who won the same award in 2004.
More than 200 OCS clients and staff attended the awards which are run in partnership with SportsAid, the charity responsible for funding emerging sports talent in the UK and helping the next generation of British athletes to succeed. Since the awards began in 1998, OCS has made sports bursaries in excess of £500,000 to well over 200 deserving young people. At London 2012, 14 YSP winners represented Great Britain at the Olympics and Paralympics.
“We believe that the OCS Young Sportsperson of the Year Award is more than just another sports award offering sport funding and bursaries to young people. We take the opportunity to celebrate with our customers and staff the fantastic achievements and dedication of these future sports stars,” said Martin Gammon, Managing Director for OCS Group UK & Europe. “The passion and dedication needed to develop sporting excellence is like no other. Our aim is to give outstanding young athletes recognition to help them with the strain of training, travelling and competing. We help to ease the pressure by offering help at the start of their careers when, more often that not, parents and guardians are the solitary sponsor. At this stage, independent recognition and financial assistance can make a huge difference to a young athlete.”