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Just Imagine: Jess Ennis-Hill and fellow GB stars ponder non-Olympic careers

17th Ionawr 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014: GB athletes including Jess Ennis-Hill have been discussing what life might be like if they had not been able to become professional athletes with their chosen sport. The activity is part of the National Lottery’s new ‘Just Imagine’ campaign to raise awareness of the massive impact that £31 billion in Good Cause funding has had across the UK since the first National Lottery draw 20 years ago this year.

The National Lottery and UK Sport have surveyed GB athletes across a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports to find out what careers they may have followed if they had not been able to become full-time sports competitors. Whilst the full survey results will be released later this year, The National Lottery has released selected imagery and video with a number of athletes imagining what their ‘alternate lives’ might look like.

Olympic gold medallist Ennis-Hill is pictured posing as a sports psychologist, a career path she feels she would have liked to have followed had she not become a professional heptathlete. She also discusses her thoughts in a video released online:

Ennis-Hill said: “Before Lottery funding was introduced many athletes had to hold down full time jobs and fit in training in between so it is interesting to think about what my life would be like if this were still the case. I have a degree in psychology and am interested in all aspects of sports development so I think I would have liked to pursue a career in sports psychology. National Lottery funding has had a massive impact on my career as well as the careers of many other British athletes and I’m really grateful to everyone who plays.”

Other athletes discussing what life would be like without Lottery funding and the career paths they might have taken include rising athletics stars Adam Gemili, who would have followed a career in football; Katarina Johnson-Thompson, whose love of home makeover TV shows would have inspired her to become an interior designer; and Paralympian Sally Brown, who would have followed a career in the arts. They discuss their thoughts in a video released online:

Footage released earlier in the Just Imagine campaign also featured various members of the GB Cycling squad, including Becky James, Ed Clancy and Jason Kenny, discussing just how important Lottery funding is to their lives and in enabling them to compete at the highest level.

The National Lottery funds 1,300 elite athletes through UK Sport, enabling them to train full time and have access to world class facilities, coaching and medical support. Since the funding was introduced it has changed the face of British sport. Team GB won just one Gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics, compared with 65 medals including 29 Golds at the London 2012 Olympics.

Grassroot sports has also benefited, with more than £6 billion been invested into local sports clubs and facilities around the UK.

The imagery and videos have been released on on Day 6 of the ‘Just Imagine’, an innovative digital and social media campaign that is using a range of techniques to encourage the public to consider an alternative reality of what might have been if the National Lottery had not funded £31 billion across more than 420,000 arts, sport, heritage and voluntary projects across the UK. The first phase of the campaign sees 31 items released daily through January – one for each day of the month and each £1 billion of funding.

To enable people to learn more about National Lottery funded projects in their area, the National Lottery has launched a ‘Good Cause Finder’. To see projects in your area, or to find out more about Just Imagine January, visit


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Jess Ennis-Hill video link:
Jess Ennis-Hill video embed code:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
GB Athletes video:
GB Athletes video embed code:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
For press enquiries relating to the Just Imagine campaign:
Jim Williams 07814 068 349
Alex Bake 07552 289 290

For press enquiries relating to the National Lottery:
Michael Thompson, Head of Media at the National Lottery Promotions Unit, on 07734 295745.

Twitter: @lottogoodcauses #JustImagine
About the National Lottery Promotions Unit
The National Lottery Promotions Unit (NLPU) is responsible for raising awareness of Lottery funding to Good Causes. Amongst other initiatives, NLPU manages the National Lottery Awards.
National Lottery funding is awarded through 12 distributing bodies: Big Lottery Fund, UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport NI, Sport Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Arts Council NI, Creative Scotland and the British Film Institute.
Over £31 billion has been awarded to good cause projects across the UK since the launch of the National Lottery back in 1994. Currently, £33 million of good cause funding is raised every week by National Lottery players.