Grant spurred Helen on

Team Ipswich Elite Squad Member Helen Decker, recently funded by the Team Ipswich Sports Foundation, gives an insight to how the grant gave her vital support.

Team Ipswich Elite Squad Member Helen Decker, recently funded by the Team Ipswich Sports Foundation, gives an insight to how the grant gave her vital support.

Ipswich girl Helen started running in 2003 as way to keep fit, running her first marathon in April 2005 in a time which earned automatic qualification for the elite ladies start for the 2006 London Marathon.

After joining Ipswich JAFFA Running Club, Helen received advice on how to improve her running and teamed up with coach Clive Sparkes who helped improve her running times and prepare for London Marathon. She has since been awarded a grant from the Team Ipswich Sports Foundation to assist her with reaching her potential as a world class athlete.

Helen said: “The grant saw me on my way to a great performance in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on 27th September, where I travelled over with England athletics and represented Team England in the international team challenge. I had an unfortunate injury in the build-up to this marathon which took three weeks to resolve, with eight weeks to go till race day; I was left with little choice but to have lots of emergency physio treatment almost daily and massage. As a result of the team Ipswich grant I was able to off set this expense and afford the necessary treatment to allow me to train through the injury and do enough to still reach the start line and run a personal best of 2.41.08, and was first British lady to cross the finish line. I found this support invaluable. Thank you team Ipswich”

The Team Ipswich Sports Foundation has one clear aim - to assist aspiring and talented athletes in Ipswich who need a helping hand to reach their potential. Unfortunately our future champions, the talents of today who have the potential to become Olympic and Paralympic stars in London 2012 and beyond, often miss out on grants. This is because the majority of public funding goes to established sportsmen and women who are already competing nationally and internationally.

Grants from Team Ipswich Sports Foundation aim to support local athletes who are recognised as an athlete of potential. Grants may be spent on costs associated with training or competition and have already supported a number local athletes, such as Helen who have gone on to succeed at a international level. Money is raised through high profile Team Ipswich business fund-raising events attended by sporting celebrities such as Steve Cram MBE, Ronnie Irani and Sharron Davies MBE and through donations from local businesses. Application are assessed and grants allocated by a board of trustees on behalf of Team Ipswich.

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Direct support is available for talented and aspiring through Team Ipswich, the Borough Council's sports service. Team Ipswich and its sponsors support the Elite Squad, several senior international sportsmen and women. These athletes are ambassadors for Ipswich and compete nationally in Europe and World Class competitions. A package of benefits, developed in association with local businesses, is providing essential support to assist them with the day to day pressures of training and competing.

Support is also available for developing athletes who compete in or coach at a national age group category, national championship level or sports development level. The developing squad receive free use of Team Ipswich sports facilities in support of their training and competitive ambitions.

Both developing and Elite Squad athletes must be recognised by their National Sports Governing Body. To obtain this vital support the athletes must either; live in Ipswich, be in full time education/employment in Ipswich or be a subscribed member of a club within Ipswich. Ipswich is defined as the Boundary of Ipswich Borough Council. Further information about the Elite Squad and Developing Athlete support is available from the Team Ipswich website.