SPRINTER Owain Lloyd Hughes revelled in rubbing shoulders with three British sporting heroes after being singled out to attend a special parliamentary reception hosted by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson at the House of Lords.

Lloyd Hughes’ athletics career is supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, and the talented athlete from Ystradgynlais was one of 15 hand-picked to go to the event in Westminster.

Cardiff’s Grey-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic champion, was joined by former Olympic champion Mohamed Sbihi and five-time Paralympic medallist Natasha Baker at a reception that celebrated the impact of SportsAid and Entain’s funding in transforming young careers.

Lloyd Hughes, 19, had the unique opportunity to absorb Grey-Thompson, Sbihi and Baker’s eminent insight and enjoy a day in the capital to savour at the iconic political venue.

And Lloyd Hughes, who harbours Paris 2024 ambitions in his 100m event, said: “Hearing Tanni, Natasha and Mo speak was inspirational. I think going through the same path of what they’ve been through before and having support off Entain and SportsAid has been a brilliant help.

“Luckily in lockdown, I was able to keep my fitness up by fitting a home gym. Without SportsAid, I wouldn’t have been able to afford that and it was a massive help to keep me strong, particularly when I was injured.

“Travelling back and forth from home to the track in Newport – I know it’s boring, but using the money for travelling has been massive.

“I was really struggling to afford training by travelling four, even five times a week there, and my physio is also in Cardiff so travelling there when I’ve been injured wouldn’t have been possible without SportsAid.”

Lloyd Hughes, who found his sprinting legs from playing rugby, had the chance to mingle with the other SportsAid and Entain-supported athletes before listening to speeches from Grey-Thompson, Sbihi and Baker to cap a memorable two hours.

And Grey-Thompson, who racked up a stunning 16 Paralympic medals between Seoul 1988 and Athens 2004, said: “Sport is so important to British society – not just medal success, but giving young people that chance to be the best that they can be.

“My career and so much of what I did was based on the support I had from SportsAid, and it’s amazing to see that support going back to young athletes going forward.”

SportsAid alumni won a staggering 14 gold, 19 silver and 14 bronze medals for Team GB this summer while, in the Paralympics, they claimed 26 gold, 33 silver and 35 bronzes as the revolutionary impact of the funding was showcased on the biggest sporting stage.

More than 400 athletes across Team GB and ParalympicsGB in Tokyo had previously benefited from SportsAid funding and Baker, who scooped silver at Tokyo 2020, said: “I can remember receiving my first grant from SportsAid and it made a massive difference.

"Not just in a monetary sense, but it opens up a lot of doors and enables you to do things that you wouldn’t have been able to do without that money.”

Rower Sbihi, who added bronze in the men’s eight to his coxless four glory in Rio, added: “Having the support and confidence in me through SportsAid helped me bridge that gap to the next level.

“I was able to represent GB as a junior and 18 years later, here I am sat talking to the young athletes.”

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