One of Britain’s highest hopes for future high jump Olympic success has received a £1,000 SportsAid award courtesy of The Rendezvous Casino in Southend.

Poppy Lake, aged 19, who attended St Michael’s school then Southend High for Girls, where she soon became the athletics team captain, has won multiple local and national awards. She has also achieved international success representing England, winning a gold medal at the Schools International Athletic Board games in 2012 and more recently a silver medal at the highly acclaimed Welsh Athletics International competition in 2013.

But as a student with little international experience to attract sponsorship, Poppy relies solely on her family for financial support. And with on-going costs incurred for travel to and from training in London, international travel to compete at the highest standard, as well as kit, competition fees and general living expenses, the support from The Rendezvous Southend could not have come at a better time.

Poppy says:

“I am so very grateful to The Rendezvous casino for their incredibly generous donation which will allow me to pursue my dream of representing England at the World Championships and the Olympic games. Committing to sport at a high level, at a young age, can be a real challenge. This donation will help me make this commitment not only for financial reasons, but thanks to the extra vote of confidence outside my support group, which has given me a real psychological boost.”

Inspired by her Southend High PE teacher Sue Simpson, who she describes as ‘the heart and soul of the sports team’, Poppy spends on average 20 hours a week practising her jumping and dedicates a further eight hours to the gym to ensure peak fitness levels. A keen student at Loughborough University, she spends the rest of her time in lectures or studying, leaving her no time to seek employment to support her passion for high jumping, in which she invests multiple thousands of pounds over the course of a year.

 Local young athlete receives funding to pursue olympic dream
The donation has also given Poppy some mental encouragement following a difficult few months suffering from Glandular Fever, meaning she has been unable to train or compete, leaving her with serious doubts about her future in athletics. Having been given the all clear from the doctors just last week, Poppy is now seeking summer competitions in Europe, for which the funding will all come directly from the casino’s donation.

The donation is part of The Rendezvous Southend’s ongoing commitment to SportsAid, a charity that helps young sports people overcome the financial challenges they face in their bid to become Britain’s next generation of sporting heroes. These athletes are typically aged 12 to 18 and are among our brightest hopes for future Olympic and Paralympic success.

Johanna Johnstone, Venue Director at The Rendezvous Casino Southend says:

“It is incredibly rewarding to be able to praise a local youngster’s tough efforts in the form of funding. Poppy is clearly a very talented young athlete and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to help her pursue her passion. We take great pride in our charity work, especially when it comes to supporting our local community.”

Chief executive of SportsAid Tim Lawler says:

“The donation from ALEA casino is set to help Poppy train harder and compete more effectively so she can put all her efforts into getting the results she needs to move up and realise her potential. It provides the right help and recognition at the right time, enabling SportsAid’s donors to see the impact of their support through the hard work and progress of these young athletes. Caesars Entertainment UK has been amazing, enabling us to provide thousands of pounds worth of donations to support young athletes all over the UK.”

Since 1976, SportsAid has helped many of nation’s most successful sportsmen and women. Some of the best known former SportsAid recipients are Sir Chris Hoy, David Weir CBE, Mo Farah CBE, Dame Sarah Storey, Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, Sir Ben Ainslie, Jonnie Peacock MBE, Tom Daley, Ade Adepitan MBE and Sir Steve Redgrave. The charity’s patron is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.