National Lottery Olympic and Paralympic event

Golden gratitude

Iconic athletes thank The National Lottery on its 25th Birthday

Some of Scotland and the UK’s most decorated Olympic and Paralympic athletes have gathered to say thank you to National Lottery players for supporting their iconic careers and helping transform British sport.

A total of 25 medallists from the past two decades, including Dame Katherine Grainger, Sir Chris Hoy, curling sensation Rhona Howie (née Martin) and British snowboarder and Young Ambassadors champion Jenny Jones, were among those to gather at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to celebrate The National Lottery's 25th Birthday.

Transformative effect

To date over 5,000 elite athletes have benefitted from National Lottery funding since 1997 and 864 medals have been won by Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians in that time.

Sports stars used the gathering to recognise The National Lottery’s transformative effect on Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s medal success. Over the years, grants have allowed many Scottish athletes to commit full time to their sport further supporting the work of the wider sporting system including Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs).

At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, before National Lottery funding began for elite sport, Great Britain ranked 36th in the Olympic medal table, with just one gold medal and a solitary female medallist. At Rio 2016, after almost two decades of funding from The National Lottery, both the Olympic and Paralympic teams finished second in the medal table.

Driving force

Britain’s most decorated female Olympian and now Chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger, feels lucky to have experienced the world of elite-level sport both before and after its transformation by National Lottery funding.

“I came into sport during an incredible period,” says Katherine who won a place in the British under-23 rowing team in 1997 and went on to medal at every Games from Sydney 2000 through to Rio 2016.

“It’s easy to think National Lottery funding has always been there, but I remember the struggle athletes experienced to fully commit to their sport before it came along.

“The National Lottery has been the absolute driving force in making GB a true world leader in Olympic and Paralympic sport. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to every National Lottery player for making all of our inspirational Olympic and Paralympic medal moments come true and long may this continue.”

Extraordinary performances

Among the attendees joining the celebrations was Lottery-funded curling sensation Rhona Howie (née Martin) who skipped the British team to gold at the Salt Lake City 2020 Winter Olympic Games, and Scotland’s most successful Olympian Sir Chris Hoy.

British snowboarder Jenny Jones, who set the country alight with slopestyle fever when she produced a spectacular display at Sochi 2014 to take Olympic bronze, also paid tribute to The National Lottery. The first Briton to win an Olympic medal on snow, Jenny is also a supporter of sportscotland’s Lottery-funded Young Ambassadors programme, having hosted national conferences to help train the next generation of sporting ambassadors.

sportscotland chair Mel Young said: “The impact of National Lottery funding on Scotland’s sporting system has been significant over the years. We’ve seen so many Lottery-funded athletes put in extraordinary performances on the world stage in summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic events.

“We are committed to helping high performance athletes be the best they can be. The long-term investment from The National Lottery, alongside support from the wider sporting system, allows us to help them continue to succeed and inspire others to get active."

The activity at Olympic Park is part of a season of events to celebrate The National Lottery’s 25th Birthday and the £40 billion that has been raised for good causes.

The events happening throughout October and into early December reflect The National Lottery’s 25-year legacy, celebrating projects and people who have benefitted from National Lottery funding over the last quarter of a century, including elite level and grassroots sport.

Find out more

  • Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting The National Lottery Good Cause website and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25

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