Gymnast Sam Oldham (15) from Nottingham was named OCS Young Sports Person 2008 at the star-studded awards ceremony on 27 November at the Brit Oval and received his award from Beijing Olympic Gold Medallist kayaker Tim Brabants. OCS Regional Winner for the Midlands, Sam, was named overall winner for 2008 despite stiff competition from a field of outstanding young finalists. Sam also received £2,000 for his Regional award and will receive a further £8,000 over 3 years as the OCS Young Sports Person 2008 through the awards scheme which, in partnership with SportsAid, aims to give financial assistance and encouragement to young British sporting talent.
The awards event in the OCS Stand at the Brit Oval in London was hosted by TV presenter and sports journalist Clare Balding and supported by a host of stars including Alec Stewart, Ben Challenger and Giles Long. Sam was honoured for his sporting achievements along with eight other regional winners and a Disabled Athlete and Young Star category winner. At the awards, Sam also received a message of congratulations from Olympic Bronze Medallist gymnast Louis Smith. “It’s great to get this from Louis,” said Sam. “It’s an inspiration to see what he’s done for British gymastics and that just might be me in 2012.”
Summing up the star-studded event, OCS chief executive Chris Cracknell explained that the Awards are recognition of outstanding potential and commitment. “OCS, although a large international company, is still a family firm, and we pride ourselves on a decade of searching out talented young athletes who could really benefit from a boost in the early stages of their career. We believe this year’s winners, deserve recognition for their commitment to their sport and their determination to succeed. We hope these Awards will help them on their way to a podium place at the highest level of competition.”
15 year old Sam began gymnastics at the age of 7 on his school teacher’s recommendation as a way of channelling his hyperactivity. He is the British Men’s U14 Gymnastic Championship, English All Round Junior Champion and a member of the British World Class 2010 Squad. Sam visited Beijing as part of the Olympic Ambitions initiative run by the British Olympic Association, fuelling his ambition to be part of the 2012 Olympic Team GB in London. Home schooled so that he can carry out a minimum 26 hour a week training regime, Sam still finds time to play golf as a hobby. Sam prides himself on his strong mental ability to focus on his sport through difficult times. He takes part in pommel horse, rings, parallel bar and high bar and most enjoys artistic floor work. “Winning this award will really help with all the travel I have to do,” says Sam, “and it will also help to put my sport into the spotlight. Over a number of years, Sam balanced gymnastics with football and was a registered player with Notts FC Centre of Excellence until its closure.
SportsAid, the charity responsible for funding emerging sporting talent for over 30 years, supports in excess of 1,500 able bodied and disabled young sports people every year and is at the heart of the talented athlete sponsorship scheme (TASS). Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, commented, “This is the first year SportsAid is joining forces with OCS, a company already committed to funding talented youngsters through the Young Sports Person Awards. We are delighted that by working together we can offer even more awards to talented young athletes.”