ATHLETES in the Wellington area are being invited to join a scheme where they will receive mentoring support from Olympians and Paralympians such as Colin Jackson, Kadeena Cox, and Maisie Summers-Newton.

Applications from up-and-coming athletes to take part in the free scheme and enjoy access to state-of-the-art facilities will open on Monday (February 12) and will close on March 11.

The Sporting Champions programme is being led by Everyone Active, which runs Wellington Sports Centre and other facilities across Taunton Deane.

The project, which has been running since 2016, has transformed the lives of more than 5,000 athletes by providing them with free access to Everyone Active’s 230-plus leisure centres nationwide, helping them to press forward in their journey to sporting stardom.

This month’s relaunch empowers aspiring athletes to unlock their full potential by offering access to state-of-the-art training facilities and mentoring support from Olympians and Paralympians.

Local facilities include Blackbrook Leisure Centre and Spa, Wellsprings Leisure Centre, Taunton Swimming Pool, Wellington Sports Centre, and Vivary Golf and Adventure Centre, which are run in partnership with Somerset Council.

Legendary Colin Jackson, an Olympic 110 metres hurdles silver medallist and former world record holder, is returning as the scheme’s ambassador.

He will be working alongside a line-up of inspiring elite athletes who have starred on the Olympic and Paralympic stage, including Lauren Steadman, Lutalo Muhammad, Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova, Kadeena Cox, Richard Kilty, and Maisie Summers-Newton, in group mentoring sessions throughout the year.

The sporting heroes will share their wisdom and expertise, guiding up-and-coming athletes every step of the way.

Colin said: “I am passionate about nurturing young talent and the Sporting Champions scheme goes above and beyond in this mission.

“With the Olympics and Paralympics taking place in Paris this summer, the programme takes on even greater significance in 2024.

“Seeing these future champions flourish fuels my excitement for what is to come.”

In the past eight years the Sporting Champions scheme has poured more than £2 million into young athletes, proving its commitment to grassroots sporting excellence.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics saw 30 Sporting Champions compete, taking home five gold, two silver, and three bronze medals.

Everyone Active contract manager Mark Washington said: “We are delighted to support up-and-coming athletes from Taunton and Wellington on their journey to success.

“As a leisure provider working in partnership with Somerset Council, we feel it is important to cater for all sections of the community.

“The Sporting Champions scheme has supported thousands of athletes over the years and we are proud to be continuing this again in 2024.

“We hope to continue making a real difference to our athletes’ success and are excited to see what this Olympic year will bring.”

Applications can be made through the Everyone Active Sporting Champions website here.

Wellington Sports Centre is currently undergoing a £3.6 million refurbishment to keep the building ‘fit for purpose’ and to reduce carbon emissions.

The work will see heating and ventilation systems replaced, insulation, windows, and doors improved, and solar panels fitted.