Hoy salutes 'remarkable' National Lottery funding after Peasgood scoops 1000th British medal

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Hoy, 45, racked up a stunning six Olympic gold medals across a storied cycling career
Hoy, 45, racked up a stunning six Olympic gold medals across a storied cycling career

Six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy has hailed the transformation of Great Britain & Northern Ireland Paralympic and Olympic sport since funding from The National Lottery was introduced in 1997.

George Peasgood will go down in history this morning after becoming the athlete to win the 1000th medal for Great Britain & Northern Ireland since The National Lottery got involved.

Peasgood’s bronze medal in road cycling’s men’s C4 time trial marked the 71st won by ParalympicsGB in Tokyo and pushed the overall total for British athletes across both the Paralympic and Olympic Games, summer, and winter, since National Lottery funding was first introduced in 1997 to a landmark 1000.

The first medal of this new era of support from National Lottery players was won in Nagano, just a short distance from Tokyo, at the Olympic Winter Games in 1998 and sparked the revitalisation of ParalympicsGB and Team GB’s fortunes to the levels seen today.

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“When you put into the context of where we were before National Lottery funding started in the mid-1990s to where we are now it’s unrecognisable" said Sir Chris.

“Look at Atlanta as an example, you know we only won one gold medal at the Olympic Games. That was enough to have a bit of a wake-up call and realise the importance of investing in sport and giving our athletes the best chance to perform on a world stage and it’s nothing short of remarkable what’s happened in the last 24 years.

“For us to even consider being able to compete against China, America, Russia – the big superpowers in sport, for such a small nation, I think it’s been a remarkable turnaround.

“It’s great to see. It did take a bit of kick-up the backside for it to happen and to sort of realise that we need to invest in it but it’s great to see that’s ongoing and it gives us a chance to thank all National Lottery players because it is down to their input that made it happen.”

With the landmark 1000th medal achieved on day seven of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Peasgood’s outstanding performance today, and on Sunday when he won silver in triathlon’s men’s PTS5, plus that of every ParalympicsGB and Team GB athlete in Japan this summer, can help inspire the next 1000.

Hoy, who enjoyed a stellar career on the track winning 11 world titles and seven Olympic medals, insists his success was also possible because of funding from The National Lottery.

“It was the single biggest thing that happened in my career that helped me to achieve my dreams,” added Hoy.

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“It’s not all about money but money gives the sport and the individual the opportunity to fulfil their potential and if you spend the money wisely and invest in the right people, facilities, training camps and all the things that athletes need to get the best out of themselves, then you give them a fighting chance.

“For me, it meant the difference between, when I left University, getting a job or being able to pursue my dream.

“It paid for my rent, it paid for my travel, it paid for my food and I think back then my National Lottery grant was £10,000…that was like £1m pounds to me. It was my lifeline and it gave me that opportunity to really go out there and see how far I could go.

“I’m so proud and pleased to be tiny part of this journey so far and I’m excited to see what the next 1,000 medals are going to look like and who is going to win them and how we’re going to inspire the next generation to keep it going.”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including elite and grassroots sport. Discover more about how playing The National Lottery supports ParalympicsGB’s athletes by visiting www.national-lottery.co.uk/tokyo2020 and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

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