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25 Iconic Olympic and Paralympic medallists say thank you to National Lottery players for helping transform British sport

24th October 2019

A whole host of inspirational Olympic and Paralympic medallists from the past two decades, including Sir Chris Hoy, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Nicola Adams OBE are today (Thursday 24 October) gathering at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, to celebrate The National Lottery's 25th Birthday and its transformative effect on Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s medal success since 1997, when funding was first awarded to elite athletes.

A total of 25 medallists (both current and past legends) will attend the event, showcasing the 864 medals won by Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians since National Lottery funding for elite sport began in 1997. The activity has been set up to say thank you to National Lottery players who support the athletes to commit full time to their sport through grants provided by The National Lottery.

To date over 5,000 elite athletes have benefitted from National Lottery funding, enabling them to have access to some of the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world. Recipients, past and present, include Dame Katherine Grainger, Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson, Christine Ohuruogu MBE, Nicola Adams OBE and Max Whitlock MBE, as well as winter sports stars like Lizzy Yarnold OBE and Kelly Gallagher MBE.

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson

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. The impact of National Lottery funding has been truly significant, changing the face of elite sport in the country, and driving world-class performances across a wide variety of sports.

One of Great Britain’s most successful athletes, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 gold medals, over the course of a glittering 27-year career in top-flight athletics as a wheelchair racer and winner of The National Lottery’s Lifetime Achievement Award, says the impact of National Lottery funding is instrumental to Great Britain’s sporting achievements.

“The success we have as a sporting nation and Olympic and Paralympic support is down to every single person who has or will buy a National Lottery ticket. So, thank you so much The National Lottery and National Lottery players who have truly transformed the face of British sport and turned Great Britain into a powerhouse of medal success.”

Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans

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.”

Chris Hoy and Nicola Adams

The activity is part of a season of events to celebrate The National Lottery’s 25th Birthday. The events happening throughout October and into early December will 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.

Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage, culture, film, charity and community.

The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK. Since The National Lottery began, over 565,000 individual grants have been awarded across the UK. That’s the equivalent of 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district.

The 25th Birthday National Lottery activities are a great opportunity to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

Olympic and Paralympic athletes available for interview:


Sir Chris Hoy

Dame Katherine Grainger

Nicola Adams

David Smith

Jeanette Chippington

Rhona Howie (nee Martin)

Lizzy Yarnold

Christine Ohuruogu

Jenny Jones

John Walker

Sarah Stevenson

Kate Howey

Samantha Murray

Kate Richardson-Walsh

Helen Richardson-Walsh

Claire Cashmore

Dave Ellis

Aaron McKibbin

Helena Lucas

Saskia Clark

Max Whitlock

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson

Kelly Gallagher & Charlotte Evans (guide)

Lee Pearson

Matt Skelhon


Written Olympic and Paralympic features available for media use


Dame Katherine Grainger, UK Sport - The Olympic gold medal-winning rower and current chair of UK Sport available to talk about the way British elite sport – and her own career - has been transformed by National Lottery money.

Sabrina Fortune, Wales - Sabrina Fortune is a British Paralympic track and field athlete from Wales competing in category F20 throwing events. Fortune won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put.

Lauren Williams, Wales - Lauren Williams is a British taekwondo athlete (who represents Great Britain). She is a double European champion as she won the 2016 European Taekwondo Championships and 2018 European Taekwondo Championships both in the 67 kg weight category. Dubbed ‘the Caravan Girl’ because she lived in a mobile home when she moved from Wales to Manchester to train at the National Taekwondo Centre.

Ellen Buttrick - Ellen Buttrick is a Paralympic rower, who talks about conquering the sport with a degenerative eye condition.

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Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25

Notes to editors

Pictures, interviews and case studies of people and projects who have benefitted from National Lottery funding are available on request.

For further information, case studies and images, please contact:
Elle Rigby on 0207 211 3927 or email elle.rigby@lotterygoodcauses.org.uk

The National Lottery’s Birthday celebrations are running for a six-week period (from 14 Oct until the beginning of December). There are some incredible activities planned across the UK to celebrate the good causes that have been made possible thanks to National Lottery players over the last 25 years.
Since The National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community.

The 25th birthday is a moment to celebrate the extraordinary impact The National Lottery has had on the UK, and to say thank you to National Lottery players for contributing around £30 million to good causes every week.

The National Lottery has made more than 5,500 millionaires but its primary purpose is giving to good causes - over 565,000 individual grants have been awarded across the UK, that’s the equivalent of 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district.

A total of 25 medallists (both current and past legends) attended a thank-you moment with the public, in London, showcasing the 864 medals won by Olympic and Paralympic athletes since National Lottery funding began.

89% of Team GB and ParalympicsGB medallists in Rio 2016 received National Lottery funding via UK Sport.[1]

National Lottery funding is responsible for the biggest period of civic regeneration since the Victorian era. Sustrans’ The National Cycle Network, Angel of the North, The Eden Project, The Millennium Stadium (to name a few) wouldn’t exist without National Lottery funding.

The majority (70 per cent) of National Lottery grants are for £10,000 or less, helping small projects make a big difference in their community.

[1] Camelot Media Briefing Sheet June 2017