Isle of Wight sailors Oliver Evans and Toby Atherton.

A scheme set-up to help future Isle of Wight sports stars reach their full potential has been launched for 2019.

The Talented Athlete Programme, run by the Isle of Wight Council’s sports unit, is now open for applications.

Successful applicants will be able to use the council’s leisure centres free of charge and receive discounts in selected local retailers, physio and chiropractic services, as well as discounted fares on Wightlink and assisted bus travel with Southern Vectis.

Last year’s programme helped 75 athletes, providing support worth an estimated £150,000, across 27 different sports.

Councillor John Hobart, Cabinet member for environment and heritage, said:

“The scheme relies on the generous support of our sponsors who include Cowes Chiropractic Clinic, Wightlink, Southern Vectis, the council’s 1Leisure service, Sarah Fenwick Sports Psychology and Love Running.

“I would once again like to thank them for supporting budding sports stars on the Island.

“I would urge our home-grown athletes to apply for the scheme so they can concentrate on their sport and making the Island proud.”

The programme has supported a number of Island stars including Rio Olympics athlete Jessica Andrews (now Jessica Martin), Commonwealth Games hammer thrower Andrew Frost and the current British number one discus thrower Nicholas Percy.

Wightlink marketing and innovation director Stuart James added:

“For young people currently competing at a Hampshire county level or above, the scheme provides support to access and train for top-level competition within their chosen sport.

“It also offers the same support for adults who are representing England or Great Britain, or those who are recognised by their sport governing body as a potential talent.”

The Island’s ladies’ British champion shooter, Shelley Moss, said:

“So far this year I have achieved a massive goal in my shooting – I won the title of British Champion in ladies’ 10m air pistol at the British Championships and I also came third in the English Champions for Ladies sport pistol.

“The talented athlete scheme has had a great impact on my shooting.

“I am consistently travelling to and from the mainland for training weekends and competitions so this is a great saving that I can put towards entry fees and supplies etc. I also use the 1leisure membership to help with my strength and conditioning training which has had a noticeable impact.”

To check your eligibility against the current criteria and to obtain an application pack, you can visit: www.iwight.com/sportsunit or email [email protected]

The application process closes on 31 January 2019 and the successful applicants will be notified in February.

The scheme is applicable to Isle of Wight residents only.