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Jess Ennis-Hill shares tips with Sheffield students

11th December 2013

Olympic Hero Jess Ennis-Hill visited Sheffield Hallam University yesterday to meet students involved in a landmark initiative to get more young people playing sport.

The Olympic Gold medalist heptathlete took part in an athletics class and shared her inspirational story with the group, who all take part in social sports sessions which have helped the university become one of the most active in the country.

The sessions are part of Sport England’s £8 million National Lottery funded Active Universities programme, which provides a range of sporting opportunities for students outside of formal competitive university teams.

Jess visited the university as part of The National Lottery’s tour of London 2012 athletes to community groups in their local areas. She said: “I really enjoyed meeting everyone and it is great that Sheffield Hallam has so many people who enjoy taking part in athletics and other sports.

“Athletics is a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am today without National Lottery funding. I think it is really important too, to support projects like this one which create opportunities for people at all levels to get involved with sport. Everyone who plays the National Lottery should be proud of the difference they are making to people from all walks of life.”

Sheffield Hallam was one of 41 universities to be awarded National Lottery funding in 2011 to widen sports participation through Sport England’s Active Universities programme. The project has been a huge success, with almost 2,000 students taking part in the first year alone. A wide range of sports are on offer including wheelchair basketball, martial arts, swimming and netball.

Frazer Johnson, Sport Development Manager at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We have been honored to welcome Jess Ennis-Hill to our university. She is a local hero and a role model for our students.

“We have a strong tradition of high level sport at Sheffield Hallam but we are just as focused on encouraging people of all abilities and interests to get involved with the many activities we offer.

“The funding we have received has enabled us to increase the number of sports we offer to 23 and put on sessions on a more informal basis so that people who aren’t members of university teams can also enjoy the associated social and health benefits.”

The Active University programme is part of Sport England’s work to tackle the drop off in sport participation which tends to occur in late teens and early 20s.

More than £6 billion of National Lottery funding has been invested in sport in the UK since it began in 1994, with Sheffield benefiting from more than £87 million.

Jess Ennis-Hill is one of 1,300 elite athletes supported by National Lottery funding through UK Sport. The funding allows athletes to train full time and have access to some of the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world.

Notes to editors

• The National Lottery raises £33 million every week for a wide range of sports, arts, heritage, charity and community projects across the UK
• The 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
• Jess Ennis-Hill is a member of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme, which enables elite athletes to train full time and have access to some of the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world