MY PRIDE, MY JOY, MY DREAM

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This is my story, the story of one dream fulfilled and another that I am still chasing. It is a dream, not just for me but for British sport and for British society that I need help to realise.

In 1984, I made history as the first black British woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal. That javelin triumph in Los Angeles felt like the highlight of an incredible roller-coaster journey, which saw a six-year-old girl come to England from Jamaica, work feverishly in athletics and overcome all kinds of trials and tribulations en route to becoming a global champion. That Olympic gold nestles proudly with risk manager, it stands not just as the culmination of the old dream, but also as the symbol of a new ambition to help kids on the path to the same joy and fulfilment which sport gave me.

25 years after that victory, I launched the Tessa Sanderson Foundation & Academy and I can honestly say that its success in inspiring hundreds of kids to achieve so much in sport, to discover new educational opportunities and to even change their lives over the past five years has given me every bit as much pleasure and satisfaction as that gold.

In one of London’s poorest boroughs, the Olympic borough of Newham, we have been opening up new pathways of opportunities and possibilities for youngsters, whether they be disabled or non-disabled and from whatever background, while bringing the community together in a fashion not seen before.

 

“TSFA have been making the Olympic legacy happen and I think we are unque”.

Pardon a little boast here but I think it’s about time we at the TSFA blew our own trumpet a bit. Everybody has talked about the crucial importance of the Olympic legacy after 2012 but how many organisations in London have merely paid lip service to the concept.

Not all of these kids are going to win gold medals or compete for Great Britain, like the Olympians and Paralympians we have already helped produce and hope to see enjoying success in Rio in 2016, but the TSFA is helping give them a better chance in life, nurturing confidence in themselves, offering them a better chance of finding a job. We’ve reached out to them.

In a short time, we’ve achieved extraordinary results, creating a talent development project for young people in the London borough of Newham, backed by world-class coaching talent, which should be a model for all to follow. I believe that, as well as the hundreds who have come through our sports Academy, some of whom have become champions at sports as diverse as archery and fencing, we have probably involved 14,000 or more individuals of all ages in our activities, ranging from fun runs to school projects.

 

“Many are now queueing to get involved with our Academy to make sure our newest projects take off, and to share our vision and mission”.

Yet this is just the start. I’ll let you into a little secret. I’ve worked even harder at making this a success than I even did when I was training so feverishly to become a javelin champ all those years ago.

21Making the TSFA work has been a labour of love but an incredibly demanding one. I’ve been to the brink and back at times to keep everything afloat and I would estimate I’ve spent about £100,000 of my own money down the years to bolster some of the projects.

I’ve banged on countless doors, We’ve tapped up everyone from school head teachers to leisure centre bosses to local hospitals, in order to facilitate our expertise and nurture new talent. It has been worth all the hard work but partnerships with other organisations is a key player in keeping TSFA flourishing along with the small, incredible band of people who make this exciting project work on a daily basis. Thank you.

TSFA is always seeking to expand and to meet the needs of the untapped wealth of talent not just in East London & Essex, but with youngsters all over the UK. Many are now queueing to get involved with our Academy to make sure our newest projects take off, and to share our vision and mission.

I do hope when you read on these pages about our successes, our ambitions and the stories of the athletes that we have inspired and assisted, you will understand why it is so important to keep the TSFA thriving and achieving, soaring – as the Olympic motto would have it – faster, higher and stronger.

 

TESSA SANDERSON-WHITE CBE