How Olympic training has been a lottery for Britons young and old

The gathering, summoned to highlight the growing success of the National Lottery scratchcard raising funds for the 2012 London Games, included many athletes who reached Olympian heights without any funding.

For Lynn Davies, winner of the 1964 long jump title in Tokyo, official support amounted to "pocket money" of perhaps a couple of pounds when he was away on a trip.

For Bert Bushnell, winner of the double sculls rowing gold with Richard Burnell when the Games were last in London 57 years ago, such a hand-out would have been regarded as the height of extravagance.

"We didn't get a penny," said the man who was prevented even from working for his father, who owned a boatyard on the Thames, because it would have infringed his amateur status. Now 84, Bushnell wryly recalls how, in those post-war days of rationing, even getting his teeth around a bit of steak took ingenuity. "We didn't get any extra rations before the Games," he said. "But I had two friends in rowing - Mervyn Wood, the Australian sculler, and Grace Kelly's dad, Jack, who came from the United States. They used to have food sent through to them, and so the first thing my mother did was to invite them to supper at our house in Wargrave, which was only three miles from the Olympic course at Henley. Every time they came round they brought my steak with theirs."

Having sold virtually all of their first 11 million Go For Gold scratchcards since 28 July, raising more than £2m towards the 2012 Games, Camelot, who run the National Lottery, announced yesterday they were issuing a second edition of 20 million. National Lottery funding should contribute up to £1.5bn towards the London Games, of which £750m is scheduled to come from Lottery cards.

As of next year, 17-year-old Harry Aikines-Aryeetey will be in the thick of the Lottery bunfight having earned World Class Performance funding through his exploits in July, when he became the first athlete to complete the 100 and 200 metres double at the World Youth Championships.

This affable and self-assured Sutton schoolboy - he is currently studying for A levels in PE and Sociology - is already a PR dream, and if he continues to give evidence of the same level of performance on the track he could be in contention for medals when the Games returns to the British capital. "I will be 23 by that time," he said, "which is when a lot of sprinters have success. Justin Gatlin has been doing the business at the age of 23, so hopefully I will be able to go out there and do the right thing."

He found himself sitting next to the Olympic and world champion earlier this month when he attended the International Association of Athletics Federations Gala in Monaco, and Gatlin offered him some sprinting tips. He laughs incredulously at the recollection. But this is the world he now inhabits.

As this young sprinter looks forward to a year where he will be aiming primarily to earn a medal at the World Junior Championships in Beijing, Aikines-Aryeetey will be able to prepare knowing that Lottery funding will now take care of winter training trips, hotel stays before competitions, travel costs and physiotherapy. "Whenever I feel tight I'll be able to get physio and acupuncture at my local track," he said. "I'm a bit of a baby about the needles. I scream a little bit. The most I've had in my back at one time is six needles - but they really work well."

Bushnell, meanwhile, regards the current system of Lottery funding as wholly acceptable. "There are no amateurs these days, and of course that's OK," he said. "It means you get the best people competing."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen