QTS Group has today unveiled the latest inductees into its Youth Athlete Programme, as it looks to inspire the next generation of sports stars.
The national rail contractor has announced five new sponsorships for young athletes across Scotland and England, who will receive funding to help reach their sporting potential.
Aaron Sarwar, 15, from Kilmarnock, has been training with Northwest Boxing Club for more than a year and has already represented his country and the club at an international level. He has won gold medals in the Scottish Championship, William Wallace Box Club and King of the Ring competition in Sweden.
Glasgow-based Jorja McNaughton, aged 15, has been weightlifting for six years and competes in the women’s 49kg U17 class at national and international level. She is currently a 3x British gold medallist and holds Scottish records in the women’s 49kg class from U14 to U23s.
Jorja boasts several other Scottish records in the 40kg to 55kg class and has been awarded best female lifter in the Scottish Youth contest and at Manchester-based competition, the Barton Youth Open.
Ethan Cunningham, also from Glasgow, started gymnastics aged 10 and became British Tumble Champion by aged 14. Later, he switched disciplines to DMT (double mini trampoline) and was selected for the Scotland national squad for both disciplines in 2020. Ethan is currently the youngest member of the Senior Development GBR squad, at just 17.
Other talent entering the programme includes footballer Luis Davin from Liverpool and boxer Alfie Bradshaw from Nottinghamshire.
Launched in 2014, the programme provides annual support to young, emerging sporting stars who face financial challenges, with the aim being to enable them to fulfil their potential.
Since then, QTS has supported 27 UK sports stars across many disciplines including swimming, kickboxing, and snowboarding, with many going on to compete at the pinnacle of their sports in both the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Applications for the latest round of athletes to join the programme opened in November, with those chosen for the programme informed earlier this year.
The process saw candidates sharing their sporting journey, outlining how the sponsorship money would help them to reach their potential.
QTS then reviewed applications based on a varied criteria including their sporting experience, current skill level, and upcoming plans, including competitions and training commitments.
As well as bringing in five new young athletes, QTS will continue to sponsor nine of its current athletes: Jed McMillan (tennis), Ben Stitt (kickboxing), Charlie Lane (snowboarding), Charlotte Payne (hammer and discus), Gillian McGaw (motorbike racing), Rory McKinna (sailing), Adie Lock (kickboxing) and Javier and Joaquin Bello (volleyball).
Alan McLeish, managing director of QTS Group, said: “The UK has a wealth of untapped talent, particularly in sport, but for many it’s sadly a case that financial difficulties can hinder what could be sporting greatness.
“That’s why it’s fantastic to launch another year of the Young Athletes Programme, helping to give support to future athletes. After running the programme for nine years, this is a cause close to our hearts and one we are proud to continue delivering.
“At QTS, we have always taken pride in giving back to local communities. We hope that the programme will truly inspire young people from all walks of life to pursue their dreams and fully fulfil their talent. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our new athletes.”