Richmond athlete Alice Patterson wouldn’t have even considered triathlon if she hadn’t got bored of swimming lengths all day.

But having found, or stumbled into, her calling in sport, a chance to represent Great Britain is firmly in the stride of the 18-year-old.

The Esher College student has already had an opportunity to run for her country as a junior in the European Cup, an important stepping stone in her route to the top.

Yet the hard work is only just beginning for the promising teenager, knowing full well exactly what she wants to achieve before she hangs up the goggles, saddle and running shoes.

“I’ll hopefully be able to represent Great Britain in a major championship, and the ultimate goal is the Olympics and Commonwealth Games,” said the Optima Racing Team clubwoman.

“I started swimming from a young age, because my mum swam when she was younger. I got fed up of swimming up and down a pool doing one sport, so I joined my local triathlon club and since then I’ve been doing triathlon.

“I’ve trained loads, started off in a local club and then when I wanted to become more serious I moved to a more competitive club where I became even better.

“Competing in the European Cup was a great opportunity and I hope to do more things like that representing GB in the future.

“Next year I’ll be going to university, so I hope to continue to a high level there, but I know it’s not always easy to be able to keep everything together.”

Her cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport’s system.

Backed by £5.5 million of National Lottery funding, Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills.

Patterson was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at The London Stadium, offering media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents.

The youngsters from all over the country were joined by sports stars Maggie Alphonsi, John McAvoy and Jake Wightman, with the latter offering his support for the SportsAid programme.

“When you’re young the funding opportunities are pretty slim, so to know that there are people out there that will help you fulfil the potential that you feel like you have when not a lot of others are doing that is pretty vital,” he said.

“I hope they’ve gained a lot from us athletes being here, because it wasn’t that long ago that we were in that position. Every single one of them has got a good platform to go for success.

“Being a part of something like this, they’re already a pretty good way along the path of being successful athletes. I hope they can come away believing that can happen thanks to Backing The Best.”

Backing The Best is helping talented young athletes facing financial pressure to pursue their sporting ambitions.

The programme, managed by SportsAid for Sport England, is supported by National Lottery funding. Visit to find out more