Team Bath Netball Superleague star Rachel Shaw plus badminton player Alex Lane and swimmer Anna Hopkin, both reigning national champions in their respective sports, are the latest Team Bath athletes to be named as MJ Church Ambassadors.
They will join the likes of Paralympic silver-medallist Piers Gilliver (wheelchair fencing) and Olympians Ben Fletcher (judo) and Joe Choong (modern pentathlon) in bringing Team Bath’s partnership with MJ Church alive by attending events and inspiring the company’s staff and their families, as well as customers and stakeholders, to participate in sport and healthy activities.
In return the Marshfield-based Civil Engineering, Plant, Transport and Waste Management Contractor will provide the athletes with a bursary towards their training and competition expenses.
England international Shaw was voted as Team Bath Players’ Player of the Year for the 2017 Superleague season after a series of influential and dynamic performances at goal-attack. A crowd favourite, she is this week helping young players improve their game during the Blue and Gold’s half-term holiday camps.
“I have to say a massive thank you to MJ Church for choosing me as an Ambassador,” said Shaw. “We have a big season coming up and I am very much looking forward to representing MJ Church on the national Superleague stage.”
University of Bath Sports Performance student Lane, who last month became the first University student to win a men’s singles title at the English National Badminton Championships, says the support of MJ Church will help massively towards chasing his goal of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Badminton has no central funding at the moment, so as a singles player you are reliant on sponsors and backers to help you compete at international level and pick up world-ranking points,” explained Lane, who also receives a Trendell Sports Scholarship and is coached at the Sports Training Village by Pete Bush.
“You have to compete in 15-20 tournaments a year for two years to qualify for the Olympics and each of those costs around £500, plus travel expenses, so to have the backing of MJ Church is invaluable. I’m incredibly grateful for their support and very much looking forward to working with them.”
Hopkin, who studies Sport & Exercise Science and is coached by Mark Skimming, won 50m freestyle gold at this year’s British Swimming Championships and represented Great Britain at the World University Games in Taiwan, narrowly missing out on a medal in the freestyle relay.
She is now targeting a place at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and said: “The support and funding from MJ Church is incredibly important in ensuring I achieve my goals over the next 12 months.
“The funding will enable me to travel to overseas competitions in order to gain experience competing against some of the best in the world, which will prepare me for major competitions in the future.
“It is a great honour to be recognised by MJ Church and chosen as one of their Ambassadors, I am extremely grateful for their support.”
Tom Church, director at MJ Church, added: “Over the past year the Ambassadors have been introduced throughout the company and have inspired many of our employees and their families to take up or return to sports. Introducing new sports such as badminton will create much interest as it is very accessible for young and old alike to take part. We look forward to welcoming the new athletes onto the team.”
Gilliver, Choong and Fletcher were among the first wave of MJ Church Ambassadors and will continue in that role during the year ahead, as will British 110m hurdles champion Dave King and England women’s rugby international Sydney Gregson. Two more Ambassadors will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
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