Meet the athletes
Meet the athletes
Even winners have their doubts, but after making the Sky Sports Scholarship scheme Ellen Keane is in a great place to continue dominating on the world stage.
The 22-year-old from Dublin is already a record-breaker, having become Ireland's youngest Paralympian at the 2008 Beijing Games aged just 13.
She has gone on make three finals at London 2012 and secured a stunning bronze in the SB8 100m breaststroke at the Rio Paralympics. She also made the finals of the S9 100m backstroke and Butterfly finals.
"I had such a strong mindset in Brazil last summer to win and I felt I had to get that medal," Keane said.
"I was anxious, and I was so happy to win the medal and see the joy it brought everyone".
"Being a Scholar is amazing. I had been struggling with belief in myself over the last two years and this is something I needed. For such a big company like Sky to back me has given me a huge confidence boost going forward."
"I'm so grateful and excited. When I went to the Scholarship interview I was so overwhelmed that I had even got an interview out of everybody that applied."
1) Born: 6 April 1995, Dublin
2) Three-time Paralympian
3) Made three finals at London 2012 Paralympics
"I was so nervous and needed to be calmed down! I wanted it so badly I didn't get my hopes up. When I got the email to be accepted I started crying!"
Keane, born with an undeveloped left arm and competes as an amputee, is thrilled about what lies ahead with four years of financial and development support to tap into.
She added: "This year I have a European Championships at home in Dublin and that's a top goal. It's an event that's not happened in Ireland before so that's a big opportunity for me and the team.
"As a Scholar, I'm so excited to see where it takes me to grow as a person and athlete."
Marta Bassino loves flying on a set of skis and a motorbike and cannot wait to see how being a Sky Sports Scholar can boost her career on the slopes.
The 21-year-old alpine skier from Piedmont in Italy was the 12th Scholar to be unveiled and the second from outside Great Britain and Ireland.
Bassino said: "I feel so happy to become a Scholar. This is a great opportunity for me to know myself and to discover so many other things about myself. I want to perform to the best of my ability and the Scholarship programme will really help me with this.
"My big dream is to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. Next year's Games in South Korea is my main focus and I'll be aiming to qualify for the first time.
"I have to do really well for the rest of the World Cup season which starts at the end of October. All I can say is that I will be doing my best."
1) Born Feb 27 1996 in Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
2) Favourite food: Pasta with mushroom, pizza and chocolate
3) Best achievement: Made her first World Cup podium in giant slalom at Sölden 2016.
Bassino, also known as the Snow Princess, first skied at the age of two. With an older brother already skiing and having a dad as a ski instructor, there was only one career she was heading for!
"I don't remember starting out but I've seen pictures of me in a pink ski suit," added Bassino who made her World Cup debut in March 2014 at the age of 18.
"I do remember going fast though and having very happy memories. I just love the sport - whether it's for fun or competing.
"I feel free when I ski and I love going fast. I don't ever get scared but I do get lonely sometimes. When I'm skiing, I think of only what I'm doing and how I'm skiing. I get really focused.
"I also ride motorbikes, although my dad doesn't like me doing it! It's that feeling of the wind in my face and hair and feeling free. I have no thoughts on anything else and in that moment it is just me and nothing else. It's the best feeling I have ever had."
Bassino is excited about improving over the next few years with the help of Sky's support through finance, mentoring, media training and work experience.
"Every year I have got better," she said. "When I was 15 I was in the regional team, then it was the Italian team, the European Cup, then the World Cup.
"Every year there's been something more and I can't wait for that to continue. I knew I was good when I did the European Cup in 2013 and my dad has always encouraged and really helped me.
"The media training will be great for me. I would like to be more confident in front of camera and being a Scholar can really help here. I don't like interviews because I'm a private person and don't really feel comfortable.
"When I started five years ago I always tried to say 'no' to interviews but now I understand it's needed. I'm also going to continue with a nutritionist and have more physio preparation."
For a professional athlete already with her own fan club, it's likely this Italian skier will be climbing many more podiums.
"I have a motto that says it's our 'personal choices that guide us in life and make us who we are'," she said.
"Our destiny is the result of all our choices - everything we choose to do every day. I chose the Scholarship and the Scholarship chose me. That gives me huge motivation and knowing I'm good at skiing will hopefully help me get good results."
Molly Thompson Smith is scaling new heights in more places many people would care to imagine.
The fearless Sky Sports Scholar has already won 24 national titles as an indoor sport climber and began her first senior season at the age of 19.
This is a sport not for the faint-hearted and Molly is taking it in her stride and cannot wait to reach new peaks as a Scholar.
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity with Sky," she said. "It's not only going to change my life as a performance athlete but will teach me skills that I can use off the wall too.
"I feel very privileged to be a part of the program coming from a minority sport that lacks funding or media interest and I'm lucky to have this partnership with Sky to hopefully change that.
"Having such a well respected and huge platform such as Sky, and support from mentors and the rest of the team, will allow me to promote climbing and myself to a wider audience.
"Climbing is a sport in which becoming a pro is a difficult feat, so having the program's resources will give me the best chance to see how far I can push myself, and even make a career out of my passion.
"It felt risky and ambitious to want to turn my climbing into a career, but I feel much more comfortable and excited to accept the challenge with the help of Sky.
"I'm also eager to meet the other Scholars and hear about their journeys and learn from them too.
"I'm coming into this opportunity ready to take as much on as I can and learn what it takes to get to the next level. Hopefully I will have the opportunities to carry on being involved in sport and broadcasting after I've finished competing."
Molly became the youngest senior national champion for lead-climbing aged 15. Her world ranking has never been outside the top 10 at junior level having been No 1 in 2014.
1) Born: 7 November 1997, London
2) Favourite indoor place to climb is Imst in Austria
3) Youngest senior national champion for lead climbing aged 15
"My best achievements so far would be winning my first European Youth Cup in 2014 and then just missed out being European champion a month later," she added.
"Making my first senior World Cup final this summer was amazing, as well as being the first Briton in my discipline in 14 years and only the second female. It was exciting to be a part of British climbing history and it's so exciting to see how far I can take it.
"I'm more motivated than ever to train as hard as I can and make the most out of Sky's support to achieve my goals of being the world's best and someone who is pushing the limits of my sport.
"I'm hoping to train full time wherever the best facilities are - mainly in Europe - and start preparing for Olympic Selection for 2020. I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking on two more disciplines and learning how to perfect my training, competition preparation and nutrition so I can be the athlete I want to be for Japan.
"I'd also like to win world titles in the boulder and lead disciplines, and be consistently at the top of competition climbing. I also want to inspire people to take up climbing whether it's indoors and out.
"The climbing lifestyle and community is one I'm very proud of, so to be an important figure inside that is my long term goal."
Francesca Summers is determined to inspire the next generation of sport stars, as well as get her hands on more silverware in the fascinating sport of modern pentathlon.
The 21-year-old from Dorking has already tasted lots of success having shone as a teenager, winning five medals from her U17 and U19 major championships.
"I have had an incredible amount of physical and mental challenges throughout my sporting career," Summers said.
"I have however been able to use them to develop and strengthen as an athlete and I would like to pass on these experiences to other athletes I meet as a Sky Sports Scholar.
"I would also like to utilise these in my quest to represent GB at the next Olympics in Tokyo. Because of our country's history in the sport - we won gold and bronze in Sydney in 2000 Olympics, bronze at Athens 2004, silver in Beijing 2008 and silver in London 2012 - it is never good enough just to go to an Olympics.
"The planning, preparation and expectation is to make the podium. This comes with huge pressure but this is high performance sport where you are up against the best in the world.
1) Born: 13 Feb 1996, Dorking
2) Youth Olympics silver medallist in 2014
3) Competed in senior World Cup in USA in 2017
"To represent your country is one of the greatest feelings and it's a great honour. To represent Team GB at the Youth Olympics in China in 2014 was really special. To win silver was just fantastic.
"In my first year at the U21 World Championships aged 19 in 2015 in Mexico City, to be crowned world champion was a big surprise and an unbelievable moment. When the national anthem faded and the reality sunk in that I was world champion seemed so surreal."
Summers has been getting used to the podium since she started the sport that involves five events - fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping and a final combined event of pistol shooting and a 3,200m cross-country run.
She also made her World Cup debut in March 2015 and competed for GB at the 2015 European Championship in Bath.
"Getting a place on the Sky Scholarship program will give me an opportunity to further my learning and understanding of sport in a totally different dimension, which I am looking forward to exploring," Summers added.
"The opportunity will also allow me to meet with new people who view sport in a completely different way than I do as a competitor and also to meet a variety of athletes who excel in different sports.
"In sport we are always looking for an edge to get ahead and Sky's support is a very welcomed advantage to me over my competitors and I am extremely blessed to have this support."
"Being acknowledged in this way by Sky, being held up as a potential future Olympian and helped and supported by Sky is a big confidence booster. As an international athlete I have had an incredible journey so far, I have experienced and learned so much and I've grown as a sports person and as an individual.
"During the next four years I am hoping to be able to utilise many of my experiences as an athlete within my role as a Scholar.
"The power of female sporting role models has already played a very important part in my sporting success. If I can repay some of what has been given to me by becoming a role model to the next generation of sports stars nothing would please me more."
Daniel Altmaier is the first Scholar outside of the UK and Ireland to be unveiled and if his tactics and ambitions are anything to go by, it won't be long until he's grabbing even bigger headlines.
The 19-year-old tennis star from Kemper in Germany has slowly made his way up the rankings and should continue to do so with the help of Sky's finance and developmental and mentoring support.
"My big goal is to win a Grand Slam," said Altmaier. "My big dream would be to win at Wimbledon. I also want to be a good example for younger kids to do the right thing and to learn from other mistakes and do better.
"Being a Scholar is such a great opportunity. I'm really looking forward to these next three and a half years. It's a huge experience and it's going to really help my development in tennis.
"I met Tony Lester (Head of Scholarships) in Munich and he was really interested in my story and my career and it means so much for me to be chosen.
"The money will really help me but it's not the main part. It will be more about who I meet at Sky and learning to act in front of camera.
"I will build up some great contacts at Sky and meet a lot of hugely experienced people. I just want to learn as much as possible."
1) Born: 12 September 1998, Kemper, Germany
2) Played at ATP Antalya in 2017 after coming through qualifiers
3) Cracked top 300 in 2017 after reaching semi-final in Bangkok at Challengers event
Altmaier reached a career-best ranking of 210 in the world this summer, boosted by two impressive qualifying wins on his ATP main draw debut at the 2017 Geneva Open. He lost in the first round to American Sam Querrey.
He also made the quarter-finals in his first ATP tour-level tournament in Turkey thanks to two victories decided by a third-set tie-break.
"I have developed my career step by step," added Altmaier who begun playing tennis aged five and is now based in Berlin.
"It wasn't one big tournament and I was there suddenly. It's been a slow build-up.
"Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are the top players I most admire. Stan has a similar game to me where I like to control things!
"I don't like defence and just waiting for my opponent's mistakes. I like to be the actor on the court where I control the game. I'm aggressive and different and I like to be unpredictable, but not in a wild way - just a tactical way!"
Being a full-time tennis player and now a Sky Sports Scholar, it will be a busy few years for Altmaier but when he needs downtime there's only one thing he's going to swap his racket for.
"Fishing is one of my passions," he said. "I've been going with my dad since I was six. It makes me feel so relaxed close to the water. I've never fished in the sea so it's more likely to be in a river or lake.
"Sometimes I do think about fishing on the court. But I absolutely love tennis - that's my business and that's my life."
Being chosen as one of the new Sky Sports Scholars has fired up Emily Appleton to boost her own career and become a role model for women in sport.
The 18-year-old from Surrey is a rapidly rising star on the junior circuit having won the prestigious Costa Rica Coffee Bowl in singles and doubles earlier this year and making the quarter-finals in the singles and doubles at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Her results in 2017 have pushed her up to a career high world junior ranking of 10 after starting 2016 ranked 303.
Getting on the Scholarship program is one of her biggest achievements for Emily.
"I feel hugely honoured," she said. To be involved as a Scholar with all of these other incredible athletes is really special and it inspires and drives me to continue to work hard to be the best that I can be.
"It has also given me huge confidence to know that Sky believe in me and my abilities as a tennis player and this has given me even more incentive to achieve my long term goals.
1) Born: 1 September 1999, Chertsey
2) Making 2017 Australian Open Junior Q-F (singles and doubles)
3) Was holder of British titles in all four age groups - U12, U14, U16 & U18
"As a Scholar I would love to become an ambassador for the program and for tennis and women in sport in general and to be able to help raise the profile of the game.
"I am also very excited to learn more about Sky and all the things it can offer me and that I can become involved in. I also hope it will give me a chance to learn more about the other Scholars and their sports so I can start to follow their progress and success."
Making the second round in this year's Wimbledon girls singles and doubles has also given her a taste of the bigger stages on offer.
"I want to become the best that I can be and hopefully becoming one of the best in the world," Appleton added.
"Having reached the top 10 in the world on the junior circuit and playing all of the junior Grand Slams I would love to be able to make a successful transfer into the women's game.
"I will be working so hard for a top 100 ranking and a place in the women's Grand Slams over the next few years."
Freya Anderson has big ambitions in the pool as she embarks on a new chapter in her career as a Sky Sports Scholar.
The 16-year-old stormed to her first senior British title in the 100m Freestyle in April this year and made her senior debut at the World Championships three months later.
"As a Scholar I hope to get more confident and use all my given resources to better myself and work with the Sky team," Anderson said.
"As an athlete I hope to make the Commonwealth team, go to the Worlds in 2019 and then hopefully I'll be in Tokyo for the Olympics."
Anderson, who swims for Ellesmere College Titans in Shropshire, is now preparing for three years of Sky backing with financial support, a mentor and developmental and media training to boost her quest for success on the international stage.
1) Born: 4 March 2001
2) European Junior Champion in the 100m freestyle in Hungary in 2016
3) Awarded 'Emerging Swimmer of the Year' by British Swimming in 2016
"When I heard I got on the Scholarship program I couldn't believe it," she added. "I remember getting the email and struggled to process the news! I am so grateful for this opportunity to better myself in my sport.
"I initially felt nervous but meeting more people from Sky I have become more confident."
Hopes are high for the English sprinter and she should draw inspiration from former Scholar and GB team-mate Siobhan Marie-Connor, silver medalist at the Rio Olympics.
At the age of 16, Anderson has already built a reputable CV.
"One of my best achievements was in 2016 when I was 15 at the European Junior Championships," she said.
"No one expected me to win, not even myself, but it gave me a lot of confidence and started my journey.
"I also loved going to my first senior World Championships in Hungary this year. It was the best experience to learn from all the seniors and finishing 12th was more than I planned for!
"Becoming world junior champion in August was also amazing. It was a shock after being injured for six months but I definitely won't forget that moment!"
Swimmer Max Litchfield is fed up on just missing out on podiums and believes being a Sky Sports Scholar can make a huge difference.
The 22-year-old English star revealed he was "over the moon" and "honoured" to have been chosen ahead of many other world class athletes.
"Looking back at the last set of Scholars and what they have achieved in their careers it is a huge boost for my confidence," said Litchfield who is based in Sheffield.
"I'm hoping that being on the program I can go on to win medals and make the podium on the world stage!
"My greatest achievement so far has to be my Olympic debut in Rio. I was an underdog and I swam a PB in the heats and the final to finish fourth in the 400IM.
1) Born: 4 March 1995, Sheffield
2) Fourth at 2016 Rio Olympics in 400m IM final
3) Second at 2016 World Short Course Championships
"Although this wasn't my fastest ever swim, I still feel it's my best. It was fourth again at this year's World Championships in the 200 and 400m medley, breaking British and Commonwealth records.
"This fourth place curse is something I need to break over the coming years! Hopefully with the expert help on the Sky program and the experience of the mentors and other staff I will be able to develop my skills and expertise.
"I'm also hoping to understand my event and sport as well as other sports more clearly. This will allow me to achieve my goals as a Scholar and an athlete.
"I want to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and as a Scholar I would love to develop a plethora of skills that will help me with career opportunities after my swimming career."
Andrew Pozzi cannot wait to grasp the new opportunities as a Sky Scholar to help him become a hurdling legend.
The 25-year-old from Stratford-upon-Avon struggled with long-term injury problems after London 2012 but is now set to build on a stunning 2017 thanks to a variety of support as one of the new Sky Sports Scholars.
"I was elated when offered a place on the Scholarship program," Pozzi said. "When I read and heard more about it, I was so excited at everything it could offer my career and support my progress in moving forward to the next level.
"I take great confidence in knowing that I have the support, expert knowledge and experience from the program and its team for the next few years, offering me the chance to achieve my goals and work towards realizing my potential."
Pozzi grabbed the headlines in March this year in Belgrade with 60m hurdles gold to send a loud message to the world he was back in top shape.
"The best achievement of my career so far was winning those Indoor Championships. After so many injuries and setbacks in the last four years it was an incredible moment to take my first international championship title.
"I spent the entire indoor season as the leader setting the three fastest times in the world so to back that up when it mattered made it all the more important.
"Looking back, getting fourth at the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul when I was 19 in my first season as a senior was amazing.
"I finished behind two Olympic champions and at that time in my career it gave me the belief that I belonged on the world stage.
"Another big boost for me was qualifying for London 2012 when I won my first senior British title in front of all my friends and family in front of a packed Birmingham crowd.
1) Born: 15 May 1992, Stratford-Upon-Avon
2) Former British Junior Record holder (60m and 110m Hurdles)
3) European 60m hurdles champion in 2017
"At the beginning of that season I wasn't expected to qualify for the Olympics so to do that and be Britain's leading hurdler was a huge step forward."
Not making the final at this summer's World Championship in London was a blow, but with the help of Sky, Pozzi has big targets for the next four years.
"I plan on consolidating my position as one of the World's leading hurdlers in the build-up to the 2020 Olympics with the aim of winning a medal in Tokyo," he added.
"There are several important steps on the way starting with the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham next year.
"It will be a busy 2018 with the Commonwealth Games in Australia and the European Championships in Berlin. In 2019 the World Championships are in Qatar and this will be my first opportunity to win a world medal and for me an important step in showing readiness for Tokyo.
"As a Sky Sports Scholar, I will be looking to improve my personal best year-on-year from 13.14s to under 13s, putting me among the best in the world of all time."
Joe Fraser wants to get flying inside and outside of the gym and take full advantage of what being a Sky Sports Scholar really means.
Former Scholar and gymnast Sam Oldham has provided plenty of knowledge and inspiration for the 18-year-old from Birmingham.
"It will be brilliant to have such an amazing team around me that all want the best for me," Fraser said.
"Sky will help me gain confidence when speaking to the public and in interviews. I have trained with Sam Oldham for a few years and seen how much the program has helped him grow as a person and as an athlete. Seeing how much it helped him, I look forward to our journey together.
"Over the next few years I am focused on European championships, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games.
"I want to contend for a medal so I will be working hard to achieve these targets. As a Scholar I want to develop as a much more confident person. With the amount of media training and financial support I will be able to push myself to get the best results.
1) Born: 6 December 1998, Birmingham
2) Won three golds, a silver and two bronzes at junior European Championships
3) British National Champion in All-Around in 2017
"I would like to say thank you to the Sky Scholarship program for wanting to be on my journey. I look forward to the future!"
If what's happened so far in Fraser's life, what lies ahead should be fascinating. He won gold at the 2015 European Youth Olympics and the 2016 junior European Championships.
In his first year as a senior in 2017, he won the All-Around title at the British Championships and was selected for the 2017 European Championships, finishing a respectable fifth in a very competitive field.
"In 2015 I became the European Youth Olympic Champion in the All-Around, Team and the Parallel Bars. I also won silver on the pommel horse and bronze on rings," he added.
"It was such an amazing championship and to finish the competition I was nominated as the Team GB's flag bearer for the closing ceremony which was a real big honour.
"Becoming the senior British champion this year was such an unreal achievement as it was my first year in this category.
"To have made such an impact on the nation was a confidence boost having competed against other gymnasts that I have idolised my whole life. These are Olympic medalists and I'm in the mix with them. It's such a great feeling."
Imani Lansiquot is used to flying over short distances but GB's rising sprinting star is also fired up to impress off the track as a Sky Sports Scholar.
The 19-year-old is making great strides and having captained the GB team at the 2016 World Juniors has gone on to become the second fastest British teenager in history over 100m.
"To think that Sky believe in my talent just magnifies my own confidence on the track and in my life," Lansiquot said.
"I feel completely honoured. To have the backing of a company such as Sky is immensely prestigious.
"After training for six years, it's an amazing feeling to be rewarded with such a special partnership. I really believe it will push my career to higher heights."
1) Born: 17 December 1997, Peckham
2) Ranked No 1 in Britain for 100m and 60m as an U20
3) Second fastest British junior with 11.17s
Hopes are high for the runner from Peckham in South London. She ran four Olympic Standard times in 2016 in the 100m and was fourth at the trials before Rio.
She added: "In the next four years, I plan to mature and learn as much as I can. With Tokyo in sight, and the completion of my degree, these years are crucially formative as an athlete and a young woman.
"I look forward to not only having the financial support to fully enhance my development as an athlete, but also to learn some real life lessons about the corporate world and develop my ability to work with the media.
"I'd love to be able to truly inspire and relate to young women like myself in sport."
Samantha Kinghorn has plenty of targets despite having already become the fastest wheelchair racer in Britain.
The Melrose athlete has joined the Sky Sports Scholarship program and cannot wait to utilise what it offers.
"I was so excited when I was told I had a place. I couldn't believe it as it's such an amazing team," she said.
"Wheelchair racing is an individual sport but when I race it's always really great to know I have support behind me so a team like Sky will make me so more confident.
"The financial benefit is such a great thing and means I can just concentrate on training and not having to make money on the side. Being mentored will also help me look into the future more and help me prepare which is so important."
Kinghorn has been grabbing the headlines for a few years having been crowned triple European champion in 2014 and won bronze at the 2015 World Championships.
She also made the finals in the 100, 200m and 800m at the Rio Paralympics last summer.
1) Born: 6 January 1996, Melrose
2) Triple European gold medalist in 2014
3) Fastest ever female British wheelchair racer in history
"Getting my first GB call-up at the European Championships two years ago was amazing," Kinghorn added.
"I won three golds and the whole experience was amazing. To be part of the team was great and to have a home crowd in Swansea made it even more special.
"The London World Championships this summer was another amazing event for me. I won 200m gold with a world record, I won bronze in the 400m and I was fifth in the 800m.
"This was the greatest experience by far. There is no greater pride for me than to pull on my GB vest and represent my country. To win my first major medals and to exceed everyone's expectations was also an amazing feeling."
So what lies in store for the queen of the track with another Paralympics less than three years away?
"I am looking to qualify for the Commonwealths in Australia next year. My event won't be there so I only have a 1500m and the marathon to go for. Then it will be straight back to sprints and aiming for the 2019 World Championships.
"Then of course it's the big one and the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 where I hope to win a medal.
"I'm also keen on working out my future after sport by working with my athlete mentor and trying to balance my sport and studies. I'm so excited to meet the rest of the Scholar team and I hope to have a great relationship with Sky over the next few years."
As a child, I was very hyperactive and found myself getting into 'trouble' at infant school for being noisy and pretty active! From jumping around the playground to looking for things in the class room to jump off!
My teacher suggested to my parents that they take me to our local leisure centre and get me introduced to a real gymnastics teacher in a bid to harness all my pent up energy. Right from the beginning, I loved it.
RISE OF A GYMNAST
As I progressed as a gymnast, I was entered into a schools area gymnastics competition through the gym coach who'd welcomed me as an infant. I went on to win the competition and after trials I joined the Nottingham Gymnastics Club.
I was selected to compete for GB for the first time aged 12 in Austria. I won the competition and around the same time Notts County Football Club offered me, and I duly signed, a four-year contract to take me up to scholarship age.
London won the 2012 Olympic bid and I felt I needed to make a serious choice between the two sports and despite interest from Nottingham Forest and Derby County, I chose gymnastics over football.
I was selected for the GB Junior European Team aged 15 in 2008, but halfway through my final floor routine, I broke my wrist. I still managed to continue and finish the routine to help us take gold; the first time Great Britain had ever won gold at any championships.
I went to the Beijing Games as part of the UK Sport "Ambition 2012 Programme" to get a taste of an Olympics. With extra funding after China, the GB Junior squad was based at Loughborough University, meaning I could move home and train full-time with Sergey Sizhanov, my childhood coach, again.
The Junior European Championships followed in 2010 where I took three golds, Individual All Around, Team gold and High Bar gold.
As European Junior Champion, I was selected for the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore and I came home as Youth Olympic High Bar Champion - I also took silver on Pommel.
Seniors was next and I made my European Senior debut in Berlin in 2011, aged 18, where I made the high bar final and finished just outside the medals in 4th.
Top 5 achievements
- Representing GB at London 2012 & winning first men's team medal in 100 years
- First British man to win major champs medal on High Bar at Moscow European Champs (2012)
- Recovering from ligament reconstructive surgery after injury at Commonwealth Games (2014)
- Junior European All-Around & High Bar champion making me a four-time junior European champion (2010)
- High Bar champion & Pommel Horse silver medalist at first Youth Olympics in Singapore (2010)
LONDON 2012 IN DOUBT
I competed at the World Championships 2011 in Tokyo. I had a collarbone injury but during the competition it got worse and developed into a stress fracture. I missed full training for four months, putting my 2012 Olympic selection in jeopardy.
My last chance to force my way into the Olympic team was at the 2012 British Championships. I had the competition of my life and sealed my place in the team for London. After all my hard work, my highs and lows, I was just so happy.
I have since followed up my Olympic bronze medal by becoming the first British male gymnast to win a medal on high bar at a major championships by winning silver at the 2013 European Championships in Russia, a country known for top-level gymnasts.
Sky Sports presenter Geoff Shreeves has been helping Sam develop in his career
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
The Scholarship is an amazing scheme. With the other athletes that are involved, it's an honour and a privilege to be picked alongside them to be part of this.
The last few years have been a real rollercoaster. During this period I have experienced complete polar opposites. From being in the best physical shape of my career to having my horrible ankle injury.
The 2014 European championships ended up being a great event for me and I came away with two silvers and it motivated me to push on for the World championships in China.
Sky has been great with promoting and celebrating my achievements. I spent a morning at Sky Sports News HQ chatting with Jim White on live TV which was a great experience. I have also visited my local Sky Call Centre in Derby where I gave a talk to 20 employees.
My short advert also came out in the summer of 2015 which was awesome! The actual gymnastics footage was great and I had really good feedback from within gymnastics community.
The partnership with my mentor Geoff Shreeves began around this time and I have to say it's one of the best parts of the program. He was worried at first that he knew nothing about gymnastics but I reassured him that we would get on just fine.
One of my biggest worries was the media aspect of being an athlete. To have someone with that experience on the other end of a phone is invaluable and without Sky and their unbelievable resources I would not be able to have that kind of help.
Sam is hoping his injuries are behind him and he can impress in Brazil in the summer
The injury I suffered at the Commonwealth Games was very tough for me and having Tony Lester and Geoff to talk to at this point was really reassuring for just my headspace more than anything.
At the end of the year Geoff invited me to a Manchester United game where I had the chance to look behind the scenes and watch the rehearsal. He also arranged for me to chat to Jamie Rednapp, who suffered a similar injury to mine, we discussed the ups and downs and this was great experience for me.
The funding has also been a great help. I was able to lease a Game Ready machine for months, which has made a massive impact on the speed of my recovery.
In a sport like gymnastics we just don't have equipment like that you can borrow. So without the financial support this is something that just wouldn't have been possible for me to do.
My media sessions have also been incredibly helpful and I benefited from it straight away. I had two public speaking events scheduled after the session. One was for Sportsaid, which was a motivational speech.
The second was at Nottingham Forest Academy, taking to young players about what it takes to make it at the highest level. Sky came along to this and got some cool footage from it.
Sam was in fine form for the European Championships in Montpellier in the spring of 2015
WHO AM I?
As a very active child, my mum encouraged me to put my energy into sport so at seven I took up figure skating. I always fancied trying another ice sport, so as a hobby I took up speed skating aged 12. I loved it.
It was my bit of fun for the week. Once a week I could get on the ice, I didn't have to be elegant and appearance focused, I could stick a helmet on and bomb round the ice and feel the wind in my hair!
At 15 I did less figure skating, I entered the British Championships for speed skating and was fortunately selected for the British team. I couldn't believe it as I had never been on the development team so the national squad was a big step. Especially seeing as you had to relocate to Nottingham to be part of this amazing opportunity.
After a lot of thought (and encouragement from my mother) I decided to pack up and leave my little town in Scotland and move to the city of Nottingham, not everyone receives such a great opportunity and I am very lucky that I did.
Top 5 achievements
- Triple gold at World Champs (2017)
- Breaking 500m world record in Salt lake city (2016)
- European champion overall (2015)
- World Cup champion (2016)
- Olympic finalist in Sochi (2014)
HOW DID YOUR CAREER DEVELOP?
I competed in my first senior World Championships that same season and I then knew that I had to target skating in Vancouver 2010. A few years down the line and I had qualified for the Olympic Games. This was such a mind blowing experience; this led to a massive change in my attitude.
After the Games I decided it was time to become a different level of athlete.
I now wanted to not just go to the Olympics, but I wanted to go there with a medal-winning chance. I knew a lot had to change and I met with all the members of support staff to discuss the different little changes I could make to get myself there, I set a yearly plan and finally I changed my mind-set; I decided it could be me and that I had to give myself the best opportunity I could.
I believe that if a person does everything they possibly can to become an Olympic medallist and it doesn't work out, then you cannot be disappointed. I will never be someone that will say 'I'm going to win a medal at the games', but I can guarantee I will do everything I can to give myself the best chance possible.
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
It has helped me in more ways than I believed possible. Coming from a minority winter sport I feel privileged to be a part of the programme and have the opportunity to build such a close relationship with Sky.
I feel more confident in my ability, believe in my talents and also feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera which is a big thing for me. Thanks to the training I've had and the insights experienced at their studios in Livingston - my old stomping ground, I've been able to go behind the scenes and gain unique learning experiences.
What's more is I've been able to share my experiences with young people - something I again wouldn't have been able to do and something that I love doing. Not only can I share my experiences and offer advice but it also gives me the chance to encourage participation in speed skating, which is super exciting and something that is so important for the sport to ensure there is a future!
Sky has helped my confidence to grow on and off the ice. Through Sky I have been able to meet some great sportsmen and women, who I can learn so much from! The best one of all being my mentor Will Greenwood, it was great to talk through the 'failure' in Sochi with him…
Sky also helped me take part in one of the best experiences of my life - Riding the Dales. Aside from the obvious great publicity for my sport and me as an athlete, this really helped me to overcome what happened in Sochi and take my mind away from skating for a while.
It was great to have a challenge off the ice for a change. I really learnt a lot about myself during this challenge. It was also a great insight into Will's determination and that really motivated me, seeing that level of grit in a retired sportsperson was inspiring.
I'm constantly looking at ways to better myself and my training, so it's amazing being able to be more innovative. I'm also able to pay for any testing I need, nutrition, and all the latest technology in recovery methods.
The really great thing about being a Scholar is that they have really helped in getting short track promoted and out into the public eye. Hundreds of people have taken up short track since Sky has helped promote the sport.
WHO HAS HELPED?
How did I do this? Simple, and the key is relationships and the support the team and I now have. As a team specifically, we have developed a fantastic bond over the years and having known most of them for longer than I can remember, it really does make all the difference on and off the rink.
But the beauty is that it doesn't stop there. I have amazing family and friends, representation that help me from a management front and now Sky who placed their faith and trust in me and my ability.
Together, it is all of these people in my circle who help me do what I do on the ring and this season, I hope I repaid a small amount of their faith when I made history at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships becoming the first female Briton to win two medals.
But it doesn't stop there! With Sky's continued support as well as the support from all others, I want to continue to progress, improve and prove myself. It's always about being better for me and I hope with Sky I can do exactly that and realise my potential!
I am one of the youngest in the GB Boxing Podium squad and train in Sheffield full-time at the EIS. I have been competing since I was 11 and have been involved in the sport for as long as I can remember.
Bradford College have been very supportive and deferment arrangements have allowed me to continue with my sports coaching degree when my schedule allows. I am fully committed to gaining a degree alongside my sporting achievements so I can fulfil my long term aim of working with children in sport and inspiring others, no matter what their background.
I will focus on proving that I am the best in the country year after year and treat every contest as if it is my Olympic final, be it the regionals of the National ABAs or an international contest.
Every win gets me a step closer to achieving my ultimate dream of a podium spot at the Olympics. Attending the London Games as a training partner for the team in 2012 was amazing and heightened my determination to make it.
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
Being on the scheme, I have not only improved as an athlete, but as an all-round individual. Sky has helped me to promote myself, not just to the boxing audience, but to Sky viewers in general. I believe I have been able to attract more people and viewers to boxing and have raised awareness of amateur boxing by writing blogs and featuring in videos created by Sky Sports News and Ringside Boxing team.
It's been fantastic to see a different side to the boxing shows other than just what;s happening in the ring. I have built up an excellent relationship with my mentor Johnny Nelson. He is always on hand to offer advice.
I feel completely comfortable about contacting him for a catch-up or chat. There are many ups and downs in boxing and Johnny has the experience and knowledge and has helped me, particularly during the tough times.
Top 5 achievements
- European bronze winner
- GB national champion
- Tammer tournament champion
- Feliks Stamm champion
- 2 x Senior ABA champion
I feel extremely fortunate to receive media coaching. It has taught me so much and I am certain it will benefit my career and has already made me feel more comfortable about presenting myself to an audience.
The financial aid has of course been enormously beneficial. I've been able to commit to my chosen sport full time and got access to the best possible facilities and equipment available for training and competition. It has enabled me to use the services of some top coaches and other sporting professionals.
I was able to go to Spain for a week-long training camp in 2015 to the MGM Boxing Gym where I got valuable experience training in the heat alongside pros and observed experienced fighters in full training during the lead-up to big fights.
WHO ELSE HAS HELPED?
I have attended regular sessions with a psychologist who has helped my confidence and mindset in the build-up to a fight, as well as during training sessions and camps. I also take part in Hot Yoga sessions on my rest days and I'm able to have sports massages.
It has been helpful to hear from and share experiences with my fellow Scholars, many of whom I class as friends. It has been great to have a group of friends on the same team as you, who work just as hard and sacrifice so much to be where they are. You never feel alone and we all support each other.
Without the Sky Scholarship scheme I would not have met Sir Chris Hoy and hear about his journey to the top of his sport (highs and the lows) to Olympic gold. It was very inspiring and spurred me on to work even harder in the gym. He helped me understand what it takes to become a champion and appreciate that with hard work and dedication, dreams are achievable.
WHO AM I?
I am a sprinter, long jumper and relay runner. I have been competing at City of Portsmouth Athletics Club in able-bodied competitions and haven't looked back since being invited to a Talent Introduction Day in 2012 where I was classified to compete nationally as a T38 athlete.
Once I started competing at the start of the 2012 season I came to the attention of UK Athletics again by achieving results which ranked me top in the UK in my category in the 100m, 200m and long jump.
I was sent to Croatia to be classified to compete internationally and was put on the list of athletes to be considered to compete at the 2012 Paralympics and invited to start training with the GB Women's relay team. I was only 15.
I made my international debut at the European Championships in Holland where I won bronze in the 100m and 200m and was described by the UK Athletics head coach Peter Erikson as "phenomenal".
I qualified for London 2012 and was the second youngest athlete.
Top 5 achievements
- 100m relay bronze at London Paralympics (2012)
- 2 x bronzes in first European Champs aged 15 (2012)
- Making shortlist for BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year (2012)
- Part of world record breaking 4x100m relay in Doha (2015)
- Chosen to be a Sky Academy Sports Scholar
I want to inspire other disabled young people to realise their potential, particularly in the sporting arena and to win a Paralympic gold medal.
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
After being awarded the Scholarship I moved to Oakland's Athletics Academy in St Albans where I live during the week and was introduced to my coaches Jonas Dodoo (sprint) and Julie Holman (long jump).
Being a Scholar has given me the confidence and financial ability to make this dramatic move and I haven't looked back since!
I did not have a particularly good 2013 and I felt that if Sky believed in me enough to award me a Scholarship then I felt I should believe in myself and that is what I did and threw myself into my new life in St Albans.
I have really enjoyed living and training at Oakland's where I have trained with some of the UK's best young athletes. It's been so inspirational and has made me even more determined to be successful.
My coaches have been amazing. With Julie's patience and understanding of how my body works I began to learn the art of long jumping. I have only been training since the beginning of 2014 so I still have a lot more to learn.
The Bursary from Sky Academy has also enabled me to go warm weather training to Tenerife a few times and also to San Diego. My cerebral palsy means that during cold weather my muscles get stiffer and training becomes less effective.
The warm weather training really helps with this and also gives me the opportunity to focus on and consolidate my training. I am also fortunate enough to have Di Dougherty from Game Changers as my mentor. It is great to have this support and receive the input of someone from outside the world of athletics.
I couldn't be more grateful to the Sky Sports Academy for the support and opportunities it has given me. The move to St Albans encouraged me to grow up earlier than I would have done otherwise.
I feel that I am a lot more mature and aware of myself and what I need to do to be successful. Hopefully I will be able to repay all this support this by continuing to work hard and improve.
I joined a family-run 'learn to swim' class when I was seven and after joining Keynsham swimming club, I really took to the sport. After moving through the groups I was soon competing.
Next up were the regional youth and age-group program at the University of Bath and I trained in this squad for four years with a variety of coaches. I won six national titles and qualified for my first European Junior Championships as the youngest member of the team at 14.
At the Bath ITC (intensive training centre) I became triple European Junior champion and qualified for the 2011 FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai. This was my first senior international meet and I made the semi-final in my favourite event, the 200m individual medley.
Top 5 achievements
- Olympic silver medal in Rio (2016)
- 6 x medals at Commonwealth Games, incl gold in 200Im & Games record (2014)
- Commonwealth record holder 200Im, GB record holder 200Im, 100Breast
- World Record 4x100 Mixed Medley Relay (2015)
- Gold & bronze winner at World Champs in Kazan (2015)
2012 was a great but challenging year. In my first Olympic trials, I wanted to make the team in the 200IM as I had done the year before for Worlds. I had a lot of nerves and I didn't know how to handle the occasion. I missed out in that event and both slots were filled.
I thought my Olympic dream was over but focused my efforts on the 100m breaststroke and at the second trials I qualified as the youngest swimmer on the GB team.
Sometimes things happen for a reason and I managed after the heats to be ranked No 1 in the breaststroke in the country which, subsequently, enabled me to swim in an Olympic final in the relay. The disappointment of not qualifying first time round taught me a lot and really toughened me up.
Since the 2012 Games, I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which I'd had for the previous 18 months but went undiagnosed. Since being on the right medication and being able to keep a healthy body and weight, I have felt lots better.
Rio was an amazing Games for me. I just missed out on gold in the 200m individual medley final after setting a new British record.
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED YOU?
It's been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am very lucky, proud and honoured to have been selected to represent and be supported by Sky Sports as one of their Scholars. It has been amazing to be part of such a great group of athletes.
Sky are such a huge brand in the world of sport so to be associated with them and to have their support with so much to offer is incredible.
Since the programme started, I have become friends with the other Scholars and we are able to follow each other's journeys and share our stories and experiences.
Last year we had cycling day organised by Sky where Sir Chris Hoy taught us how to ride around the track and also delivered a hugely inspiring talk. I feel so lucky to have been there.
I've also been able to improve my interview techniques and communication skills through one-on-one lessons with some of Sky's leading mentors. This is an area, which is massively important in our lives and without Sky's help, we wouldn't have been given this support.
With the financial support, I was able to attend altitude training camps in the lead-up to big competitions, I was able to travel to international competitions and race the best in the world. I had everything I needed to stay healthy - nutrition and supplements - and I was able to buy all the training and racing equipment I needed.
It meant I've been in the best physical state and mental state knowing I had been able to do everything right to get the best performance out of myself.
My mentor is Anna Woolhouse who is a SSNHQ presenter. I have got to know Anna and see first hand the commercial side of sport and what she does. It is so exciting and definitely something I would be interested in pursuing after my swimming career.
Being a Scholar has also boosted my profile which is great for me but also for swimming.
I am very passionate about swimming and I love my sport. I feel very strongly that it is a vital life skill and I would love to see a rise in participation and in more children leaving school with the ability to swim 25m.
I think being associated with Sky gives me a platform to hopefully put my message out there and hopefully inspire some people to take up swimming and hopefully enjoy it as much as I have.
BMX is my life and I've been riding and racing since I was very young.
Growing up in south London is tough and it could be so easy to feel that as a young person one's horizons are very limited. But being involved with the BMX Club at Peckham gave me so much to strive for.
It made me believe in myself and my ability. It also taught me how to share and to work in a team, competing, but also always wanting the best for the other riders too.
The discipline of the sport has helped me achieve more at school because you need to be dedicated, not give up if you have set-backs and always push yourself that bit further.
Top 5 achievements
- U16 boys world champion (2012)
- 2 x National champion
- 3 x British champion
- 3rd at European Series in Belgium
- 4th at European Series in France
WHAT INSPIRES ME?
I feel I am looked up to as a role model for kids in my local community, inspiring them and other riders, and I dream of helping other young people find their way in life, both within the wider community and within sport itself.
BMX racing is a sport accessible to so many, wherever you live or what opportunities you may feel aren't there for you. It is something that can appeal to youngsters without much vision of the future who may lack confidence.
It is a family sport and riders range from 4-year-olds to adults, girls and boys. I am honoured to be an ambassador for the Sky brand, promoting the development of sport within the community and helping to put BMX on the map and helping to change the stereotypical negative image that people have of kids on their BMX.
Having Darren Campbell as my mentor has meant a great deal to me. He's a calm and supportive character with so many ways to help. I know I can always talk to him anytime of the day for any reason.
I've learnt a lot by the way he deals with things and especially how natural and confident he is in front of the camera. For a man of his calibre to be only a phone call away is crazy if you ask me!
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
Being a Scholar has had so many benefits. I moved to Manchester to be part of the British BMX programme based at the Velodrome where I've been able to focus purely on training and recovery. The support I have is unbelievable.
I have a strength and conditioning coach, a masseuse and physiotherapist which all helps recovery so that I can be the best I can on the track. With my two recent career threatening injuries this additional support has played a massive role in my rehab process.
The support is something I could have only dreamt of, giving me once in a lifetime opportunities. Having the backing of such a huge company has really helped boost my confidence.
I have also attended two media sessions which have been very insightful and helpful. I feel much more confident and the media techniques I've learned are constantly rehearsed before I go in front of a camera, which allows me to portray my natural personality. This was something I used to struggled with.
I was recently asked to give a speech at a Primary school's Sports Award presentation evening. My second media session had been arranged for just before the presentation so I was able to plan the speech and I was able to deliver it without looking at my notes. I received really positive feedback - the school even said I had been the best speaker they had in six years!
The funding has also been great. My BMX equipment is the best money can buy. A set of wheels cost me £600 plus another £500 for ceramic bearings inside the hubs and bottom bracket. These give me the edge by allowing the bike to roll with less resistance.
Since I've been living on my own in Manchester being able to comfortably support myself, which takes all the worries away and mean I can fully focus on training. Before I moved to Manchester the support was also a weight off my mum's shoulders. I was able to contribute to the food shop and also things like travelling to races.
Another benefit is what Sky has been able to do to my image. I recently featured in a Sky Academy advert and this was amazing. It reached out to so many people and I received huge support from among the BMX community.
My sport is being promoted on a huge scale and this is fantastic and I'm grateful for this opportunity to be the face of it.
WHO AM I?
Since a kid I've always thrown myself into all sport. When I was four I played football at my local leisure centre with a boys' team, switched to gymnastics at six and continued for seven years.
I then played more competitive football for my local club and during high school I threw myself into everything - even cross county. I then joined Blackburn Harrier athletics club doing hurdles, high jump and whatever else my club was short of.
I have achieved many things I've only ever dreamed of. I'm the British record holder in women's pole vault - indoors and outdoors. I've jumped 4.87m, placing me fourth in the all-time standings, won European Indoors gold and World Indoor bronze medals and was sixth in my home Olympic Games. I was also fifth in the final in Rio in 2016.
Top 5 achievements
- European champion (2013)
- Jumping 4.87m - 6th on World All-time list
- Two-time Olympic finalist (London & Rio)
- 8 x British champion
- British indoor & outdoor record holder
I love my sport and especially my event. I love telling people about pole vault, inspiring young kids in schools or athletics club to get involved in my sport or any sport is the most rewarding thing.
I've witnessed how effective role models can be. David Beckham was my childhood hero and he inspired me massively, he showed me commitment and good sportsmanship is key and he is still my hero. If I could inspire just one person to take up sport then it would be worth it.
Although London 2012 was a great experience I feel the next few years are more important for our sport than any before. We have a great opportunity to create a legacy.
I really feel our legacy should be kids and getting them down the track involved in athletics, or any other sport. I truly believe that sport gives us valuable life tools such as dealing with tough scenarios and setting personal goals.
HOW HAS BEING A SKY SCHOLAR HELPED?
Being involved with Sky is such an honour. Being able to represent the company would obviously promote me as an athlete but more importantly would inspire many other youngsters to get involved in sports.
Sky has given me multiple opportunities to experience different things, including a behind the scenes tour of the studio to seeing what goes on behind closed doors. It enabled me to see what kind of jobs Sky offers and what life could be like after sport.
I feel with Sky behind me, increasing my exposure I can help inspire kids. I have seen what Sky have been doing with Jessica Ennis-Hill and how she has been inspiring . Sky is the perfect partner for me, the more people behind me that have an understanding of sport and exactly what it takes to be the best, the better.
Sky have already given me some great opportunities and I'm looking forward to more in the future.
Financially. Sky has enabled me to buy some essential recovery equipment including an ice machine and a compression machine. These have helped me recover from my injuries as quickly as possible and get back training hard. These will 100 per cent help me get to where I want to be at the Rio Games.
WHO HAS HELPED?
I have also had the opportunity to work with Darren Campbell. He's been such an amazing role model to me over the years and I was so glad when he was chosen to be my mentor. I was so excited to have him helping me out.
We've chatted a lot about pressure, dealing with injuries and coming back stronger, which has helped me so much.
WHO AM I?
2015 was officially my first year as a senior athlete and my coach and I have had an eight-year plan, which initially focuses on qualifying for a middle distance final at the Rio Olympics. My experience will hopefully enable me to strive to achieve gold at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
That's the plan! I gained senior global experience in 2013, by qualifying for the World Championships in Moscow. I was extremely disappointed not to make London 2012, but bounced back to win a medal at the World Junior Championships and believe that time is on my side.
I also started studying Biochemistry at the University of Loughborough in 2015, having deferred to focus primarily on athletics. That allowed me to be a full-time athlete for a year, before taking this attitude into university and allowing me to have the same mind-set and goals.
My aim is to be the best female distance runner in the world.
Top 5 achievements
- European Team 800m champion (2013)
- 3rd in Oslo Diamond League 800m in PB of 1:59:77 (2014)
- 800m silver at World Junior Champs & 5th in 1500m (2012)
- 4th at Commonwealth Games in 800m & 7th in 800m at European Champs (2014)
- 12th at U23 European Cross Country Champs & 4th scorer in gold-winning team (2016)
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
The money from the Sky Scholarship means I can afford a car and travel to and from training without having to rely on my parents or my coach. This means having the freedom to train whenever suits me.
Travel and accommodation costs for competitions are expensive, so the money means I can afford to travel to races. Additionally, I have been able to go warm weather training.
Finances have prevented this from happening in the past, and bad weather has increased the need to train abroad. This helps me improve my ability and translate this into competition.
Sky's support has been so beneficial in helping me to excel in my athletics. From the financial aid, to just providing advice and also the brilliant media training. It has all been so helpful.
The main focus has been around aiding my recovery in between sessions and help with my preparation for competitions. I invested in some Normatec boots, which have enabled me to recover better.
I have also used the money to pay for my coach which means they can watch me race and be able to be at all my training sessions.
Finally, being able to stay in a hotel before races was something that I had to think about before I had Sky's help. Now I can do what is most beneficial for my running and can rest and recover more before competing. It's a huge help!
Sky has also been brilliant with helping me with regards to providing advice and giving me someone to talk to. When I moved to Loughborough for university I made some coaching changes and contacts like Tony Lester were so helpful in making me feel better about the decisions I made.
The media training I have received has been great! It's made me feel so much more relaxed in front on the camera after a race and I feel a can get my opinions and emotions across in a better manner now.
This makes me feel so much calmer and I think has had a good impact on my running as the post race interviews are not daunting anymore.
All in all, Sky have helped me an awful lot and I am extremely grateful for all their help.
I have a great mentor in Natalie Sawyer who I've been lucky to meet up with at Sky. She's taught me a lot about the media and how it works which made me feel much better when being interviewed on Sky Sports.
I am looking forward to meeting up with her again so I can learn more about the media side, as it was very beneficial when I was interviewed after my race and had to sit in the studio on some occasions.
I am a runner specialising in the 800m and from Donegal in Ireland. On the track in 2015, I just missed out on gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.
I finished behind winner Marcin Lewandowski from Poland to win Ireland's only medal of the meeting in the Czech Republic, having chased down Thijmen Kupers and dip over the line 0.05 seconds.
I am also a European bronze medallist outdoors in the summer of 2014 and along with the running, I have also been busy studying medicine at University College Dublin.
I joined the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship Programme in April 2015. It was a shock for me to hear that I'd be invited to join an academy with such talent. I have already been exposed to a number of invaluable experiences.
I had to overcome a fractured foot to make the Rio Olympics and made the 800m semi-finals.
Top 5 achievements
- European outdoor bronze in Zurich
- European indoor silver in Prague
- Olympic semi-finalist in Rio (2016)
- 2nd place in Diamond League in New York
- 4th spot at Intercontinental Cup in Marrakech
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
The media training session has been great and informative. It taught me that for TV interviews, 80 per cent of people only remember what they see - appearance and demeanor.
I found it striking that so few people (10 per cent) actually remember the content of what you say. I was interviewed, we played back the interview, and we both analysed what we saw
I was the first to admit that I sounded robotic and needed to engage my emotions much more! It was something I seldom did because I was so focused on content. I also learned to slow down my speech and condense answers.
My three goals before the session were to be seen as outgoing, honest and affable when people view my interviews. Now I know how to achieve that.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to be interviewed live on the set for Sky Sports News HQ. The interview questions addressed tough issues in sport, such as the recent doping scandals, and I was happy to speak out about my strong stance on anti-doping.
These are questions, which must be asked and answered, and the interview was a wonderful platform to deal with these concerns.
It also gave me the opportunity to talk about my goals and expectations - including the World Championships and the build-up to the Rio Olympics.
The interview was actually seen by many of my friends back home in Ireland! And so the Scholars programme has helped me engage with my own community back home.
The Q&A session with local students in the Careers Lab was fantastic. I found it very rewarding to talk about my experiences and was humbled by their keen interest in my athletics profile. I told them what winning felt like, the challenges athletes face, and the dedication required to make it in the sport.
I emphasized the importance of pursuing an education, because I think it is important to have something to fall back on when sporting careers end.
It felt good to provide information that might help any aspiring athletes in the future who have dual ambitions in academia and sport.
SPREADING THE WORD
I also enjoy writing about my experiences in the blogs on the Sky Sports digital platforms. There are many benefits to this, not least learning about myself, my audience and the world around me.
I think they are important for developing a brand around me as an athlete and for exercising my creativity.
The blogs help stir up conversations and get people talking, such as when I blogged about taking on world record holder David Rudisha in the 600m race in Ostrava in 2015.
This gives me drive to fulfill the ambitions I talk about. It is also important to give back to athletics fans by blogging and describing the outcomes of my races and my own personal struggles and toils on this journey.
This is an important tangible benefit for my sport of athletics. In one of blogs in 2015, I was able to speak publicly about the deaths of two of my medical school college mates and in the process derive comfort, strength and consolation.
Becoming a Sky Sports Academy Scholar has made a huge difference to my life and sport. In my current injury situation the financial assistance has given me the reassurance that I can afford to pay for professional rehabilitation.
It also relieves the pressure of worrying about day-to-day expenses. Recently, I have been teamed up with British sprint legend Darren Campbell as my Sky Academy mentor.
I feel privileged to have such an exemplary mentor as a role model. I know his expertise, wisdom and insights will be invaluable to help overcome my current injury and loss of form.
I have also received invaluable advice and contacts for rehab support in the UK if things do not improve. Overall, the support has been amazing in developing me both as a brand, person and athlete.
It is very reassuring to know that all staff involved with the Sky Scholars Program have a huge desire to support and care for us on our journey, particularly when things go awry.
I was double Junior World Road Race champion in 2011 and 2012, I've represented GB at the European Road Championships and won medals at the European Track Championships. In my first year as a senior I won my first pro race in China and joined up with my new team Wiggle-Honda at the start of 2016.
I am an endurance athlete with a sprint which enables me to be competitive in the final few kilometres of a race and I have used this skill to good effect to win races.
HOW DID MY CAREER PROGRESS?
I've been a part of the British Cycling Development Programme since I was 14 and I love being part of a team. I started with the GB Cycling Talent team, move onto the British Cycling Olympic Development Programme and now I'm part of the Academy.
The big aim is getting to the Olympics. By then I will have a good amount of experience in the women's peloton and hopefully the results to back up the experience.
Top 5 achievements
- Junior world road race champion (2011)
- Junior world road race champion (2012)
- Stage win in Route de France (2015)
- 3rd at Senior national Road champs (2016)
- 2nd in Tour de Yorkshire (2016)
I feel I cannot only help people understand and want to take up cycling but I am so passionate about all sport that if a chance came up for me to help others get involved I would definitely jump at the opportunity.
I have already visited several primary schools to tell them my story and show them what you can achieve if you really put your mind to it.
HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?
As a rider, I do a lot of travelling around Europe and if the team can't take me I have to do that myself. A lot of my team-mates have a job next to their cycling but being part of the Sky Scholarships allows me to focus fully on cycling and become the best athlete I can be.
Being a Scholar has been a great experience and a massive help to my career. Cycling is a very tough sport and Sky hasn't just helped me on the bike but also off the bike.
I was fortunate enough to take part in two media sessions. This has really helped me with my presence off the bike. As cycling has grown so much in recent years the media attention has too. I now feel that if and when I am interviewed pre/post race I have the confidence to answer in a calm manner.
Sky has given me the opportunity to work closely with a top athlete - my mentor is Annabel Croft. It's been really helpful to have someone I can talk to about some of my problems and get advice on things I am not sure about.
I have also spoken to Annabel about her experiences about reaching the highest level of her sport. I really believe that all of this help and advice can only help me with reaching my goals of competing at the highest level.
I have been living in the Netherlands for the last few years. With the help from Sky I have been able to fully concentrate on my training, even though it was really hard to move away from my family and friends.
Sky realise that as an athlete it isn't always easy training in the winter when the weather can be unkind to cyclists, so I have been able to train in warm weather training ahead of a new season. I went to Spain at the end of 2015 and Australia at the start of 2016.
Sky not only want to help with now and in the near future but also for after my career as a cyclist. I've had some amazing experiences by trying different careers in the studios and getting help from professional media training experts.
It's a pleasure to work with so many great athletes who are experiencing what I am, just in other sports.
Giving up all the privileges of being a Sky Sports Scholar and ruling out boxing at an Olympics was a tough decision for Jason Quigley.
The rising star from Ballybofey in Ireland, now based in America, was one of the 12 athletes to join the Scholarship scheme after London 2012, benefiting from a tailored programme of support from Sky.
And after a stunning run as an amateur, including a silver at the AIBA World Championships in Kazakhstan in 2013, Quigley was handed a chance to go pro with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions in the United States.
It was a painful choice, but big ambitions burned deep inside.
In the build-up to Rio, Quigley revealed his agony at opting to miss out on the Olympics, life in LA and how being a Scholar boosted his rise in the boxing world....
Since leaving the Scholarship team it's been a whirlwind. I've had nine pro fights with eight KOs. It's been a massive year in my life, turning professional, moving to the US and with just every aspect in and out of the ring.
The decision to go pro was very hard at the time and made by me and my father. I'm delighted with the decision, though. Will I be watching the Olympics thinking I should have gone? Of course, but that's because that will be the moment.
I will watch the Games but I know I made the right decision. I've got a world title to go for.
It is good in LA. I'm next to the beach and the weather's great and it's easy to say 'oh Jason's got the life', but at the end of the day, it's not home. It can be tough, but these are the sacrifices we make and my plan is to be reunited with everybody as champion of the world.
Boxing is a tough business. You're only as good as your last fight and you just have to go into the ring and treat each fight like it's a world title fight. You can't overlook any opponent.
One shot can change the fight and your career. But you do need an end goal and mine is to be champion of the world.
The Scholarship scheme was a major reason for making the professional move so difficult. The scheme gives you everything. All you have to do as a Scholar is go and perform. It gives you unbelievable opportunities, it helps with nutrition, media and many other things.
For a young athlete to get that opportunity is brilliant. It really helped my confidence to know that Sky wanted to support me. It was brilliant to have their backing and have them helping you fulfil your dreams and deal with life.
Sometimes the biggest fight can be out of the ring and gym so Sky really help you to be a better person in and out of the sport. I'm sad I didn't spend as many years in it as I could, but I've still been kept part of the Sky family. I still meet up with them and that means a lot to me and I look forward to keeping that relationship with everybody.
Meeting the likes of Darren Campbell and Chris Hoy and picking their brains was amazing. Talking to them and seeing how normal these guys are gave me massive confidence.
I saw that they were just ordinary people, doing the same as me but working their butts off. The money was great but at the end of the day, just being part of Sky and having that stability around you knowing people have your back and meeting the great legends of the sports was brilliant.
The thing that really stuck out by being with Hoy was seeing how everything came down to the smallest thing. It was the simplest of things and with Chris it was his wife cooking his meals after training.
Hoy was very honest about that. It's something I would really appreciate being away from home and living in LA. It can make the difference but I can wait for the right person!
My advice for any athlete on the Scholarship scheme is they should enjoy every single moment and take as much as you can from it. When you get opportunities to meet the stars then pick their brains. Any questions or doubts then open up and talk to them because they've been through it with all the ups and downs.
You can be shy and think it's a stupid question, but if it's in your head then it's not stupid. Embrace the moment. There's so much to take away from it and you can make yourself a better athlete.
As for my career, over the next 12 months I intend to put in a sensational performance in all my fights, to be exciting and stay undefeated and make a major mark in the middleweight division.
I am to start my domination.....
Savannah Marshall joined the professional ranks of boxing and signed up with Floyd Mayweather's fighting stable in May.
The former world amateur champion, supported by Sky as one of their Academy Sports Scholars since the London Games, described the venture as "a dream come true".
Mayweather Promotions revealed the deal at a press conference in London on Thursday afternoon where his IBF world super-featherweight champion Gervonta Davis will defend his title this weekend against Britain's Liam Walsh.
Marshall, 25, from Hartlepool, was also Commonwealth champion in 2014 and missed out on a podium spot in Brazil in the summer after losing to her Dutch nemesis Nouchka Fontijn in the middleweight quarter-final.
Women's boxing is hugely on the rise with Marshall following in the footsteps of Nicola Adams and Irish legend Katie Taylor, who is represented by British promoter Eddie Hearn on Sky Sports.
Nicknamed the 'Silent Assassin', Marshall is the second female fighter to sign with Mayweather, joining junior middleweight LaTondria Jones.
Tony Lester, head of the Sky Scholarships, said: "This is a new and thrilling chapter for Savannah and I'm very very excited for her.
"The professional ranks will be a huge challenge and it will be tough taking herself away to the USA but I'm confident she can succeed if she gives it everything and uses all the talent she possesses.
"I've seen her develop and mature as an individual inside and outside of the ring during her time on the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship scheme and I'd like to wish her all the very best of luck with her new adventures."
Marshall, who used to train in Sheffield with the GB boxing team, took time away from the ring after the Olympics and admitted that 2017 would be all about finding herself.
"This is a new year, it's a new start, I've got a new outlook and I'm fired up for boxing," she told Sky Sports in January.
"I'm weighing up my options and I'm just very excited about the future. Boxing has made me who I am and whenever I go back to my home club in Hartlepool and do sparring, I just love it. I still always get butterflies inside my stomach."
Louis was a 400m runner with a host of medals to his name including the 4x400m silver won at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Hopes were high and he also enjoyed the coaching talents of Tony Lester (former GB national coach and now Head of Sports Scholarships).
The Ipswich School student showed plenty of class early on in his career - awarded a place on the UK Athletics' World Class Talent Programme at the age of 17. As well as his running, Louis also earned a degree in Architecture from the University of Cambridge.
He went from strength to strength on the track, winning 400m bronze at the 2009 European Junior Championships and also helped the 4x400m relay team win gold.
Despite an injury hit campaign Louis still managed to attain the Olympic B Standard time for the 400m in 2012. It was also the summer he ran his 400m PB in Geneva, clocking 45.77s.
Despite not making the GB squad for his home Games, the Colchester Harrier was still able to get involved as a graphic designer working for London's Olympic and Paralympic organising committee.
Louis secured a spot on the Sky Scholarship scheme after the London Games and was mentored by 400m legend Roger Black as he embarked on a challenging journey to return to fitness.
The funding he received from being a Scholar funding enabled him to visit Texas and the Michael Johnson Performance centre where he underwent testing and rehabilitation following a niggling Achilles injury.
Despite occasional glimpses of recovery, his long term injury problems resurfaced in the summer of 2016 and he regretfully decided to hang up his spikes.
Louis said: "Sport is full of stories of amazing people overcoming adversity and I have never wanted to quit anything.
"Unfortunately I lost the critical belief that my body is able to withstand the demands of training. It has been an upward battle that I've never shied away from. My experience with Sky has been nothing but brilliant.
"The scope of support boosted my confidence, expanded my horizons and changed my life. I've learnt there are many things to pursue in life, with many definitions of success. I'm thankful that being a Scholar sharpened my drive and given me skills outside of sport. I am enormously grateful."
Head of Sky Academy Sports Scholarships Tony Lester added: ""The guy has been fighting injuries since 2012. He's got the potential to be a world class athlete, but sadly with the nature of sport, if you have a weakness in your body that can't be resolved it will find you out.
"It's been a huge frustration for Louis. He has the potential to be a world class athlete and has done everything within his powers to be back on the track and competing.
"We originally chose him as a Scholar because we knew he had a 'can do' attitude. In sport or life it's all about a 'can do' attitude and application. Louis has got this by the bucketful. Whatever he turns his hand to he will succeed because he's that kind of character. He's welcome at Sky anytime, any day."
"Get busy living or get busy dying."
Words made famous by Tim Robbins, playing Andy Dufresne in the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption, and now very much the mission statement burning deep inside Irish Paralympic cycling legend Mark Rohan.
It's been nearly 15 years since a motorbike accident ended a rapidly rising gaelic football career. By 2009 he had tried table tennis, lawn bowls, archery, basketball, soccer coaching and tennis. Then came an invite to join the national Paracycling team at the Milan World Championships.
Rohan won a world title a year later and was soon a Sky Scholar and 2012 double Paralympic champion. He quit in 2015 a year before Rio, but don't think for a second he's spending the rest of his days dining out on his golden London memories.
The 34-year-old from Ballinahown reflects on his American and African inspirations, how he's too busy to worry about missing cycling, his boost as a Sky Academy Sports Scholar and what happens next...
After the London Games I was busy celebrating victory, travelling round schools and local football clubs showing off my medals.
It took me two months to get back into training, I went to America watching NBA and NFL games and was in California preparing for the 2013 season. I also got into the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme. I was competing, training in the States and started to think about retiring after Rio.
Results weren't going very well. I had two months in San Jose and got going with a Masters in Sports Management in Madrid. It was all part of making the transition from being an athlete to having another career.
In November 2014, I visited an orphanage for disabled kids in Zambia and it was the most amazing two weeks in my life. It made me really reflect on things and put things into perspective, getting me to focus on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was determined to give something back.
I decided to pack it up in 2015. It wasn't difficult to retire. I just wasn't competitive and I wasn't enjoying it as much. I needed new challenges and I was never going to do as well as I did in London and I felt I had done it all.
I wanted to see what else there was in life. I had some business interests and I was after some interesting projects.
The sporting success was covered and I wanted a good academic background programme. I also invested in a farm in Portugal where I'm building a sports retreat with a focus on the mental side of preparation. It should be ready by the end of 2017.
The aim will be to make people think about why we do things and what we do. I want to blend that with physical training and hopefully give back to those less fortunate.
I'm hoping to attract athletes from northern Europe for the winter, plus there will be corporate team-building to help people refocus their lives where they can exercise, meditate and improve self-awareness with a more holistic approach.
I was 30 when I got on the Sky Scholarship scheme. I had decided to manage myself, covering my finances and taxes.
From a Sky perspective, just having the brand linked with me increased my profile so much in Ireland and it opened up so many doors.
I had photo shoots, I learned how to act around professional people and how to contact people. All the major stuff was the communication skills, being on TV, how to interview, shape questions, all these things I have since used in my everyday life.
It was perfect for me and it was great to tap into those people. You can be pro-active or reactive and if you're pro-active then I've found that most people are more than willing to help.
Being a Scholar gave me huge confidence. Just the visiting Sky Sports and seeing the scale of the operation was immense. When you introduce yourself and say you're from Sky Sports and that they're the brand that's backing you - that's a good feeling.
Paralympics sports is not that big and so to be linked with Sky and tap into their expertise gave me a great boost.
Spending a day with my mentor and presenter Sean Fletcher at Herne Hill velodrome helped me see the evolution of sport and made me think about people with disability and how people are treated equally now. It made me realise how far everything had come.
The TV adverts involving me and the other Scholars in the run-up to London was mad. People were coming up to me saying "you're the guy from the Sky ad" and "you're the world champion". It was incredible.
You can look back on Google or youtube or whatever and see those adverts. When you're in the moment you're so focused on winning medals. I'm sure I will look back in 10 years and realise even more what a great thing it was for me.
I don't seem to have much time for riding at the moment. Everything is geared towards my MBA and I hopefully graduate in July. I can see myself getting back into basketball and playing more team sports.
I was lucky enough to be a mentor on the Sky Academy's Living for Sport. It's an initiative for schools using sports stars and skills learnt through sport to build confidence and develop life skills.
I could see all the benefits of this to make social change and it uses sport to make a positive social impact on people's lives.
The Rio Olympics and Paralympics is not far away now and I would recommend any Scholar and athlete to enjoy the journey and don't focus too much on the goal of the Games.
They shouldn't focus their success on results and medals and they should try to embrace the moment, learning from as many people as they can and learn as much as possible.
I'll be in California on an internship with a soccer team while it's going on in Brazil. When I watch it, I definitely won't have any thoughts that I should stuck with the cycling.
I will just keep going and I like to stay busy. My motivation is to make a living but it will never be profit driven. Get busy living or get busy dying!
There are probably worse buddies to have than Connor McGregor if your job is spent inside a fighting ring.
Irish boxer Katie Taylor has been regularly chatting with the UFC featherweight champion on social media recently but it's been a few months where she's needed every ounce of support.
The 30-year-old, who has also got 46 football caps for her country, will defend her Olympic crown in August but her road to Rio has been rocky. Losing in the European semis in April was her first defeat in 63 contests over five years.
In May, her quest for a sixth world championship crown ended in the semi-finals. It was her first defeat on the Worlds stage for 11 years. It was enough to secure Olympic qualification though.
Here are the thoughts of the lightweight fighter on going up against compatriot McGregor, her Rio dreams and how being a Sky Academy Sports Scholar has boosted her career...
Connor and I do keep in touch with each other, although I still haven't met him. I would love to meet him though. We go back and forth on Twitter and we've sent quite a few messages to each other over the last two years.
I'm an absolutely huge fan of Connor like everyone is in Ireland. He's a fine athlete.
Could I take up his sport? I don't know really know about that! I think I'll stick to boxing for the time being. I don't know much about MMA.
When Connor fights it's the only time when I tune into the fights. I wouldn't have much of a ground game so if he got me on the ground I'd be in big trouble!
Now I'm aiming to a double Olympic champion. London 2012 was amazing and so special. It exceeded all my expectations being a close-to-home Games. There were so many Irish there and to have all that support in front of 9,000 fans was incredible. I have great memories.
Since London, I've had a higher profile and I'm just trying to push on and improve. After my recent defeats I got stuck right back into training and have been improving every single day.
I'm a better boxer now and I'm getting stronger all the time. I will come back a better, stronger fighter in Rio.
It was very disappointing to lose those two fights though. I always seem to come back stronger after my losses and losing makes you analyse things more. It sharpens you up and in the long run it's a positive thing.
It's going to be better for me. I would have loved to have qualified for the Olympics earlier but I made all the right changes for the World Championships. Bring on Rio.
Being part of the Living for Sports campaign is a huge deal for me and being a Scholar [in the build-up to London] was just amazing.
It was just great to be involved in a big company like Sky who are huge about sport and know what athletes are going through.
It was amazing to be surrounded by so many other athletes and mentors who really helped me towards my dream of being an Olympics champion and they really pushed me on.
I had great advice, they helped my confidence and helped me grow as a person. It was just great to be a part of all that.
I have been lucky though. I was a sporty child and I played every sport. Boxing is a huge part of my family with my dad and two brothers and my mum was the first female boxer in my country.
It was just part of the family and it was never a strange thing to get into it with our family history. Sport was just my thing. I cannot wait to represent Ireland again at the Olympics.
Mention Jody Cundy to sports fans and many will say 'that's the cycling bloke who had that big strop and swore loads at the London Paralympics'.
The GB cyclist has had four years to reflect on those infamous five minutes inside the Velodrome when he vented his anger at the officials live on TV after being disqualified for slipping at the start gate in the C4/5 1km time trial.
After being one of the 'faces' in the build-up to London 2012 as a Sky Academy Sports Scholar, it wasn't the home Games the 37-year-old ex-Paralympic swimmer had planned.
Cundy, who swam for GB at three Games between 1996-2004, reflects on that memorable outburst, how being a Scholar boosted his confidence and how he wants his pedalling to do the talking.
Hopefully I can be a massive sport star in Rio for doing some decent sport with medals around my neck rather than cursing and swearing!
That's the thing about London - it was great and annoying. I seem to get a lot of notoriety purely based on that incident and there are a lot of people who don't know that before those Games I had won five gold medals over four Paralympics.
I have to re-educate everyone. Hopefully people will be watching because they want to see how the comeback revenge story goes. Hopefully I can produce the goods and that turns into the story and then I can be one of those superstars, particularly if we pull off the sprint double.
Since London, I've put my career back together again. The 2012 Games didn't go to plan, especially in my No 1 event - 1km time trial. I learned from it and had a year of training without any competitions to get myself motivated again.
We had the Worlds in Mexico in 2014 and that ended up being a massive motivator. The track was at 2,000m altitude and ridiculously fast.
It was the first championships after London. I went there with confidence and I smashed the world record and became world champion again. I even beat the guys that I lost to in London. It was great getting that feeling of winning again.
Since then I was obviously working really hard to get to Rio. We had the World Championships in March in Italy where I won two golds in the kilo and most importantly in GB's new sprint team.
We won gold in a world record [alongside Jon-Allan Butterworth and teenager Louis Rolfe]. That totally renewed my motivation for Brazil and I have really got stuck into training.
That was a tricky event though because I didn't have a clue how well it would go. I had golfer's elbow in the previous six months - picked up NOT from playing golf, strangely. It was tendonitis from working in the gym so that stopped me from doing loads of training.
I had to rework my programme, but to perform as well as I did - in the kilo and sprint - is a great sign for me.
Being a Scholar in the build-up to London gave me a massive boost. It was my fifth Games and there were many things I had already been exposed to, like dealing with live TV and the press.
Those things came naturally but the Scholarship scheme gave my great confidence for the big stage.
Knowing all those people were watching and having the support from a company like Sky was amazing. I saw myself on one of those huge billboards and it was on of those iconic moments for me.
I also had lessons on social media and dealing with using Twitter really boosted me. I knew the other athletes on the Scholarship scheme but knowing you were on the same path as them was a lift and it was just really interesting to see what the other guys were doing. You ended up supporting them as well them as well and having that network of athletes was brilliant.
Any new Scholar should tap into the variety of things Sky can offer. It has a huge network and a huge reputation for having people with experience dealing with big pressures and expectations.
Don't be afraid to tap into that experience. Being on Sky adverts and being on Sky Sports News HQ is a great way of getting your face out there and can turn you into the sports star you think is stuck inside you!
Looking back though, I learned a lot from London. The day after my disqualification and 'that incident', I won bronze in the 4km pursuit in a GB record - I was even in a fight for gold.
It could have been very different. That race helped me erase some of the demons and get me back racing again. I tried to work out all the things that had gone wrong but it was just a freak day and there wasn't a lot we could learn from it.
If it happens again - like the wheel spins - even if it is a mechanical issue, I just have to keep going unless the gun goes to call us back. I was aggrieved and annoyed but told myself that in four years I would put it right.
The Worlds in Mexico gave me that boost and I went back to the drawing board. Now I'm pushing towards Rio.
The two-time World champion finally hung up his trunks and goggles in November 2016, but the former Sky Academy Sports Scholar can look back at a glittering career in the pool.
He broke the world record to win 50m backstroke gold in Rome in 2009 - setting a world record in the process - and defended his crown in Shanghai two years later.
Liam Tancock was Commonwealth champion in 2006 and 2010, he won bronze at Glasgow 2014, and is a double Olympian, making the finals in the 100m Backstroke and 200m IM at Beijing 2008, then finishing fifth in the 100m Backstroke.
Exeter's finest opens up on why being a Scholar was so amazing, why he loves the sport and his incredible memories of London 2012....
Maybe I am a bit mad. I've been doing it forever but I've always loved the coast and the water.
I come from a very sporty family and wherever I go I always find water! I just love being in the water, whether it's the sea or a pool. It's just something I grew up with. Or maybe I am mad!
The London Olympics is a huge highlight. I remember walking out in the final and the crowd were chanting my name - that was the one moment in our sport where you felt like a rock star or a footballer.
There were 17,500 people inside the Aquatic Centre. That was an amazing experience being part of incredible team.
Being a Scholar in the build-up to those Games was such a boost though. One of the most helpful things was being part of a team and that's something I've always enjoyed.
Swimming is an individual sport but you are part of a wider team ultimately. As a Scholar you interacted with other athletes. I am someone who learns from other people so it was amazing to hang out with other guys to develop relationships and see how others compete and hear their stories.
It really helped my performances. It's something a lot of individual sports don't get. Many sports you feel isolated. The Commonwealth Games and Olympics is when multi-sports comes into its own.
Meeting up with judo star Euan Burton and hearing about their experiences and some of the things they've gone through like injuries was great.
I got to watch what they do, why do they do certain things and their warm-ups. I got to find out why some athletes turn their water bottle up three times or jump up and down or bounce the basketball four times. I enjoyed seeing all of that.
It was all about seeing how people dealt with different things like politics in sport or having injuries. Having that support was amazing. It's like having a sibling in your team.
You got to learn dealing with things that went wrong by being in that network and having those connections which really made a difference.
I would recommend anyone to be a Scholar. If you're lucky enough to get on the scheme my advice would be this....
Be yourself, be open, listen to people around you. These people have been there and you might be able to learn a thing or two so just give it a go!
A thumb injury decimated any dreams of wearing a GB vest again, but closed doors mean new opportunities and nobody knows that better than Steve Brown.
The wheelchair rugby legend, who broke his neck in 2005, is now a regular presenter on TV, including Sky's Game Changers, and radio having swiftly overcome the disappointment of failing to resurrect his international career for the Rio Games.
Presenting. Mentoring. Coaching. Playing. Public speaking. He does the lot. The 35-year-old, GB captain at London 2012, talks about big decisions and how being a Sky Academy Sports Scholar boosted his life and career.
It's all about making your own luck and getting as much information about decisions before you actually make them.
Every decision will challenge the rest of your life. Like the food you eat, it will affect your performance. When I broke my neck, it was my girlfriend's (now ex) birthday in Germany. She said 'shall we go out or stay in?' She wanted to stay in.
If I had gone out I wouldn't have been on that balcony to fall off and break my neck. It doesn't matter how small a decision is, it can have massive consequences. If you want to be an athlete and be the best, there is no compromise.
It's a decision you have to live by. My advice is if you decide this is what you want to do, then give it everything. There is nothing worse than losing because you could have been better.
The Sky Scholarship scheme gives you this opportunity. It helps you grow and develop in areas of your personality you probably didn't even know needed improving.
Being surrounded by Scholars from other sports makes you realise you aren't in your own bubble. You're not the only person not eating cakes, creeping round the house early in the morning to go training when others are in bed.
Being a Scholar helps you realise what commitment and dedication is and you learn from others.
My sport and the Sky Scholarship scheme have made me who I am today. Without these two I would have been stuck indoors watching daytime TV feeling sorry for myself. If I can do anything to help other people then I will.
I went to London 2012 as captain of the GB wheelchair rugby team. Then I started speaking at events at schools and charity events telling them about the Paralympics. Very quickly it went from assemblies to school awards.
Parents in the audience would catch my attention and then I'd be speaking at their business meeting. Then a manager would hear me and I'd be next at a corporate event!
Between 2012-15 I spent time building up my portfolio and concentrating on work. I carried on playing and went to the nationals final with my regional team. They selected an all-stars team and I got voted best in my position.
I spoke to the GB coach and he asked 'how can I have you voted this and not have you trying to play for your country'. I tried qualifying for Rio but I injured my thumb really badly and that was that. I ended up presenting on TV in Brazil for the Games.
My story has changed from going to the Paralympics, how things have flourished to the emotional side of things, how hard it is to be selected, talking about what the audience wants and the perseverance, the disability and setbacks.
I've done TV work on Game Changers with Sky Sports and it has pushed me into new areas and helped me spread my wings. I've even interviewed my favourite footballer Yannick Bolasie [Crystal Palace].
I've also commentated on Prince Harry's Invictus Games and been working for Sky Living for Sport where I've helped school children with their confidence and giving them a role model.
It's all pushed me into areas I never thought I'd be in. And all of it has come because of being a Scholar.
At the time, you see the money helping towards training costs. It's great but you very quickly realise that it's a quick burn. The thing that really makes the difference is the media training, presenter training, public speaking which helps your confidence and self-belief.
I've never been a shy lad. I've always been pretty comfortable and confident in certain areas but these areas have never been centre stage or in the public eye - like playing sport or quite private places.
I never thought I'd end up being confident doing live TV or interviewing world class sport stars. But it's just fantastic doing these things and having producers and people you work with come up to you with compliments saying 'Steve, well done, you've done alright!'
The critics have been sneering since Louis Smith, double medal winner at the London Olympics, revealed his retirement U-turn for the Rio Games.
After silver and bronze on the pommel for GB in 2012, Smith was in a whirlwind of celebrity fame, swapping his gym kit for Strictly Come Dancing sequins with his face regularly stuck at the end of the paparazzi's lenses.
But for anybody who knows their gymnastics or has seen the blood crusted on the gym apparatus, this is not a sport you can drift back into without graft or wearing a few battle scars.
It has been a dizzy ride for the 26-year-old from Peterborough. From winning the nation's first gymnastics Olympic medal for 80 years in Beijing as a reserved teenager to returning to the sport he loves in 2014.
Smith reveals his evolution from cocky Olympic medallist in 2008 to London's superman with the help of the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship scheme and his preparations for a Brazilian samba...
To get back into gymnastics has been like a circus act. I had a lot of time out after London 2012. People in the sport thought 'who's this guy coming back - he's done Strictly, he's a celebrity, he's not taking it seriously, who does he think he is?'
There was a fair bit of animosity coming back but I worked as hard as I could. Hopefully I've tried to prove myself and 2015 was one of my best years.
Looking back at the 2008 Beijing Games, I was young and had no worries and I was free to see what happened. I did well and afterwards I felt a lot of expectation and pressure.
I had sponsorship and people were asking if I would get gold in London. At the 2009 World Championship everyone expected I would be champion. I believed it and I messed up.
Since then I've tried to get on top of how I mentally prepare for a competition. I've used the same technique where I play it all down and play dumb. I think about doing a clean routine and not think about the medals.
From London I had a lot of sponsors and they all helped but Sky Sports were heavily involved with the Academy Scholarship. They were very understanding and flexible and helped with time management. There was also the finance that paid for travel and the medical supplies. They also had all the experience - they brought me into the studio and got me involved with presenting.
I had a screen test, plus I had a great mentor in Hayley McQueen who gave me tips on improving myself in front of the camera. The Scholarship programme was unbelievable and helped me to flourish and be this personality who I am today! I am very grateful to them.
The London Olympics was an incredible period. The whole thing was mental and it was one big ball of excitement. I remember the last day at the pre-Games training camp in France. Our bags were packed and before the bus left, the drug testers arrived!
I had just been to the toilet, the bus left and I was left waiting to do the drugs test. I finally delivered into a cup and they contacted the bus and it had to turn around to pick me up. Almost missing the bus to the Olympics wasn't a bad start!
There was so much pressure and spotlight expecting me to do well on the pommel horse. I had to switch into 'super mode' and relax, forget what had happened in the team and focus on the individual.
I was standing in the arena in front of 20,000 people - there were GB flags and Hungarian flags everywhere. It was so intense. I was the last up and I remember walking towards the pommel thinking this is my defining moment and will affect the rest of my life. Would I be sitting on a beach in two weeks with everybody knowing my name or would I just be forgotten about?
It had that edge. I got on the horse and did the best routine of my life. I will never forget it and it gives me sweaty palms thinking about it. It's that moment that everybody in the squad is working towards. Producing your biggest moment at the biggest competition.
There was so much momentum and it helped the team. The crowd noise was building and I remember looking at the board thinking we can get a medal and it was a massive opportunity. We had been expecting to get in the top six. We needed to stay calm. Too much adrenaline and it can be all over. I put on my cool pants and started chatting to the guys - but inside I was so pumped.
And we got bronze - Britain's first Olympic men's team medal in a century.
On to Rio. It will be incredible. There will always be issues in the build-up like 'will the venues be ready'? I hope we just do our job and then have a week to party! Salsa, samba on the beach. This is why we are here.
I'll be 27 if I go to Brazil and I've got to understand that my body can't do as much training. I'm a heavier gymnast so I have to protect my joints because I want to survive as long as I can in the sport. 2015 was great and has given me huge confidence. It's been such a change from my break to returning to the sport.
You ask yourself 'was it a fluke?', 'am I relying on past experiences?' I had 11 competitions last year and had 11 clean routines and that's boosted my confidence.
I'm ready to go. I've been to two Games and hopefully if I get to a third, I'll be a seasoned pro and I'll do my job.
Perri-Shakes Drayton is injury free after three years and set for British Championships and Olympic trials
When you ask a world class athlete who's just run her first race for three years where they want to be and they say "Rio Olympics" in a barely audible whisper, you get it.
Perri-Shakes Drayton was GB's big hope in the 400m hurdles at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow six months after becoming European indoor champion. Her left knee was battered in the final and needed surgery.
Tears, comebacks, rehab, false hope, more injuries, more tears. Now there's hope. It's the British Championships and Olympic trials in Birmingham this weekend and the 27-year-old Londoner, who describes herself on social media as an 'athlete with the biggest smile', is quietly hoping she's back.
The ex-Sky Academy Sports Scholar, now focusing on the 400m flat, reveals all…
That smile for the last three years has had its up and downs. Not every situation has been a smiley matter. My injury has given me hell. I didn't think I'd be out of action for so long.
What kept me fighting was the hope. I knew I had potential for Rio and that hope kept me going. It's never an easy road after an injury. I managed to get through it by being positive and being surrounded by my family and coach.
I never once wanted to give up, but there was a point when I stopped asking myself if I would run again. I never seemed to reach any of my recovery deadlines. That was very annoying.
My crying started from the beginning as soon as I was told I needed an operation. I felt so lonely. I linked up with Dr Steve Peters [who's worked with England's and Liverpool's footballers] and he talked about his 'chimp' and needing to deal with any negative thoughts entering my head.
He taught me to do things that made me feel good and happy about myself. That turned out to be getting my hair and nails done and online shopping! Buying things made me feel good.
My coach Chris Zah has also helped so much. He's coached me for 16 years - he's a legend. We grew up together from grass roots to world level and he's still battling with me today!
We are very close. During my low times I could vent to him and my dad. I take on board what he says and he knows what I'm capable of. When he sees my running time on his stopwatch he tells me if I'm in the right place.
During all my rehab I couldn't go on holiday, but I was able to go to New York for treatment and that was great having one-on-one treatment with [former Chelsea FC physio] Dave Hancock . It was intense but I came back feeling much better.
I still wasn't able to run but I was making improvements and I felt I was really getting there. I started running in 2014 and then I needed more surgery and it was more setbacks.
Every year with a major championship coming up I kept telling myself 'maybe next year'. I was still on the bike and having pool sessions and then reality would hit me. But by the end of 2015 I started feeling good and was thinking, 'I've got no pain, we've got a chance'.
I was all set for my first race in America but then I hurt my hamstring and they wrote off my season. I thought, 'How many times am I going to be tested?' I stayed out there for rehab with my coach and my boyfriend kept me positive.
The weather helped and I just tried not to think about everything too much. I finally got to run a relay in Regensburg in Germany on June 6 and I loved it. I thought, 'This is where I need to be - this is where I belong'. It gave me great confidence and I thought, 'I've still got it!' My legs felt good and the knee held up.
Next was Geneva for my first individual race and despite heavy rain I ran a good time (52.59s). In Nancy, France last week I was quicker again (52.43). I'm definitely heading in the right direction.
And now for the Olympic trials this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. I usually go into a competition as the fastest girl but not this time!
But I know I've tried my best. I'm a fighter and that's my middle name. Although I may have to be content with a relay spot. There was a point when I didn't think I would ever be in action again so I'd settle for that. I just take each day as it comes.
Something that's helped me in the past, way back before the 2012 London Games, was being a Sky Scholar.
Getting sponsorship and having all that support was amazing. The money was great obviously but it just made my life easier where I could concentrate on being an athlete.
To be featured on Sky Sports News HQ was fantastic. Sky gave me insight to lots of avenues I could take after athletics, like in the media. Presenter Vicky Gomersall was great and she saw my world. Support is so important and I'm so grateful for everything I had as a Sky Scholar.
I also do my own fitness classes and I've started a partnership with a water company where I put on classes in different iconic locations in London - like the Shard, Acquatic centre and the Shoreditch studios.
My latest one was on a ship! It's really helped my motivation and taken my mind off things and all my training. You can't be too wrapped up in your own little world. I've enjoyed every minute of it and I wish I could do it more.
It's been a busy few weeks but after the trials, there's nothing in the diary - we'll just see how it goes. The top two in Birmingham get automatic spots for Rio and if I don't make that I have time up to the middle of July to get the qualifying time of 52.2s. I've done 52.43 so I'm not far away.
Over the next few months I would love to make the Rio Olympics. All I want to know is that I've tried my best, but I know I've done all I can to get there.
A roar erupted inside Osaka's Nagai stadium in the summer of 2007 as three exhausted runners stormed into the last 10 metres desperate to be 400m world champion.
Nicola Sanders lurched towards the line ahead of Jamaican Novlene Williams, who had led for most of the race, and although GB team-mate Christine Ohuruogu won gold, it was an incredibly gutsy show from the former Sky Academy Sports Scholar.
Injuries were a source of frustration for Sanders for the rest of her career and she reluctantly retired in October 2014.
As well as that silver in Japan, the High Wycombe-born athlete, coached by Scholarship boss Tony Lester, can boast a load of other medals including European Indoor 400m gold at Birmingham in 2007, clocking 50.02 seconds which is still a British record.
So after hanging up her spikes and now running around changing nappies, how does Sanders reflect on her career, being a mum and how the Sky Scholarship (2010-2012) boosted her?
I was looking at my phone the other day and one of my 'Facebook Memories' popped up. It was a photo of me and my running group on a hill session in the rain. And I thought - 'do we really miss this?'
I don't miss athletics when it's freezing cold. By the end of my career, I was fed up with being away, but at the same time I miss going to South Africa and being in the sunshine and training with people doing what I love.
So I have mixed feelings. Overall though, I don't miss it - which is good because it means I retired at the right time. I knew I was ready.
I was chosen for the relay in London 2012 but they didn't end up picking me, so I lost all my funding. After the Games, I decided to change event and try the 800m.
I did that for a year and competed a few times in 2013 and then I got injured again. I thought I'd give it one more year but got so injured, I couldn't even compete. I got more and more frustrated. There are only so many times you can say 'if I wasn't injured, I could have...'. I knew it was time to stop.
The good part of my career was a long time ago and it feels like I was a separate person. My peak was in 2007. That's nine years ago, which is crazy. Even when I was doing my best times with silver in Osaka, I thought I could have won that final. I was disappointed and I couldn't appreciate it then.
At the start of my career, to say I'd be the British indoor record holder and have all the medals I won, I wouldn't have believed it. It did become frustrating but over time, I've learned to appreciate it.
With all the injuries, I feel I could have got more out of it but over time, I feel I've had a pretty good career and one that many would kill for - even those that aren't injured.
I'm very happy being a mum. I will start some different work and eventually I will get back into coaching. I've always wanted to go into physio because of my injuries but not at the moment.
I'm very happy looking after my son Oliver. It wasn't that long ago I was training, but as soon as I started being a mum, it felt like I had been doing it for years. The transition from athlete to parent has been pretty comfortable. You do have to be self-centred as an athlete with your body, where everything is geared towards training and competing.
But I was ready to change that part of my life so it all happened and my life is now all about Oliver. That all happened quite naturally and it doesn't seem such a change because it's so normal now - although I obviously have less sleep than I used to!
Looking back, being on the Scholarship scheme was brilliant. Tony was my coach and it really assisted in so many ways.
It helped me buy essential equipment and I was given the opportunity to learn from some of the mentors, who were Sky presenters where I worked in the studios.
It also enabled me to have warm weather training. It helped so much with the injuries being in the sun and doing quality training.
In the build-up to the 2012 season, we went to Florida for five weeks. The whole of our group went and Tony also managed to get out for most of that time. The training was great and that just wouldn't have happened without the Scholarship. I will always be very grateful for that.
In the build-up to London, being a Scholar also helped with our profiles and the sport's profile. I remember seeing a poster of me running in the middle alongside Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray.
It was so weird thinking people were seeing it all around the country. I was in a shopping centre and these guys were trying to sell me Sky TV in front of the poster and I was saying "hold on... that's me!"
For any new Scholar starting the scheme, I would say 'grab it with both hands'. It's such an amazing opportunity.
Plus having the chance to see the Sky set-up was amazing. It gave me exposure to some great training with media and it gives you money to do the sport you love. I recommend taking every opportunity it gives you.
So what's next for me? Before having Oliver, I did some sports massage and personal training. I might go back to that when my son is old enough and maybe some coaching but I don't have definite plans.
As for Oliver, my partner and I were joking about him becoming an athlete recently! We will definitely encourage him to do sport.
When he was born, he was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome so we were chatting about signing him up for the Special Olympics and deciding what events he'd do! He's very active though, so he'll be into all of this as it is.
She describes herself on Twitter as 70 per cent professional athlete, 10 per cent rockstar and the rest involves doughnuts.
Outside of the pool, swimmer Fran Halsall admits to showing off, dancing at every opportunity, listening to 70s rock and taking her hairy hound Blu to important meetings.
In the coming weeks, that 70 per cent will rise for the GB star who has qualified for her third Olympics and was recently Queen of the European Championships, winning five medals, including three gold. But don't think the fun will completely cease in Brazil.
The Southport-born 26-year-old opens up about her character in and out of the water, how the pain of missing out on a medal at London 2012 is driving her on and how being Sky Academy Sports Scholar boosted her.
If I had to sum myself up, I'd say confident, smiley and resilient. I'm Xena: Warrior Princess!
It's just that I can be a bit of a diva when I want to be. My coach would suggest I like to be the centre of attention - or a show off!
If there was karaoke on I'd be the one dancing. I love music - from Deep Purple to Taylor Swift. It depends on what mood I'm. I like to listen to gangsta rap before I race. I won't be the one with my head down and headphones on, I'll be the one singing trying to get everybody to sing along with me!
What I've learnt in over 10 years on the British team is that being resilient is a very important part of being an athlete.
It's how you deal with the poor performances and not meeting targets and turning it into a positive. Not achieving hurts but it's the analysing what you did right and what you did wrong. The quicker you understand that the better it will be for you to move forward in your career.
That was the main thing that followed London 2012. That was hard and every athlete's dream is to win an Olympic medal so it took time to deal with that. Now I'm just excited to be going to another Olympics.
The London Games was an amazing experience in front of a home crowd and watching everybody else in Team GB in all the other sports. But I missed a medal by 0.08 seconds in the 50m freestyle.
So London was a bitter / sweet experience for me. My race I just didn't get right and I was very disappointed. I took two months off after the Olympics and reassessed everything.
I got a new coach and a new programme and set myself new targets and became more focused on the 50 rather than the 100. I won a bronze at the World Championships in Barcelona so that was a nice year after London.
It was all about taking some of the pressure off and enjoying it again. I was delighted with that.
Being on the Scholarship scheme in the build-up to the 2012 Games was amazing for me though. Even after London I came back to Sky Sports and did work experience.
I'm interested in the media and what happens behind the scenes so I learnt loads of things like how to build and develop a story. I met some of the presenters and looked at all these things thinking about what I could do after my swimming career.
The link with Sky and getting access to that has been brilliant.
Seeing my big face on the billboards was interesting! Luckily I had goggles on so you couldn't tell it was me so much!
One of the other Scholars Liam Tancock trains in my squad and I've got a great relationship with him. It's been amazing sharing experiences and talking about preparations and getting an insight to other athletes and what they go through. That's all been fantastic.
The last few weeks in the pool have been great. I did really well at the Europeans and I got through the Rio trials which is actually tougher than the Olympics.
It's all about qualifying and I did! It was a good week. After January I put in plenty of work and hopefully that should stand me in good stead for this Olympic cycle.
It's the 11th time I've won at a British Championships and so it's like a time trial rather than an actual race. I find it hard to get myself up for it and motivated.
You think about a World Championship or Commonwealth Games when all the best swimmers are there and the atmosphere is electric. In a race like a 50m sprint that helps. You get the extra adrenaline and atmosphere builds.
At a trials there are few people watching like it's just mum and dad in the stands! I find that difficult. I'm just so pleased I was able to put in a world class performance.
Most of us didn't know we had made the Rio squad until a week after. For London it was announced there and then and there was a parade which was nice but it was good getting all emotional telling my parents I'd made Rio on the phone.
I'm very excited about the Olympics but I don't want to get too excited too soon! I want to build it up nicely. Now we've had the Euros it starts to get tense with a big block of work. I just want to make sure my skills are right and my fitness is good.
I'm not thinking about Olympic medals or anything like that. It's just about getting from A to B. Having said that, if I got on the podium there would be some Prosecco and I'd be with my boyfriend, parents and my dog.
My dog is a sproodle - a cross between an English Springer Spaniel and Poodle. He's crazy as anything but he's so cute. He comes everywhere with me - he even came to Glasgow for the trials.
He also goes into the changing rooms at the rugby with my boyfriend [St Helens rugby league captain Jon Wilkin]. He'll also have a haircut with me at the same time and I take him to meetings with solicitors - he's more of a rock star than me.
After retiring from judo for a second time as Commonwealth champion in 2014, you'd think Euan Burton would have quietly stepped into an office job that didn't involve throwing people on to mats.
Not his style. The 37-year-old now keeps himself busy hurling his wife across the floor… and getting paid for it! Burton, born in Ascot, is leading the judo performance programme for his adopted Scotland in Edinburgh.
Gemma Gibbons, AKA Mrs Burton and Olympic silver medalist in 2012, could not have a better mentor and coach in her corner.
Her husband reveals why he made a U-turn on quitting the sport, his love affair with Scotland and how being a Sky Academy Sports Scholar ignited his career.
I was on the podium at the Commonwealths and I just felt relief. I was in Glasgow, in front of a sell-out home crowd, Scottish flags were everywhere and everyone was screaming. It was the perfect way to hang up my judo kit and I thought this has been a good career.
There were 24 months to Rio and I had moved up two weight categories to 100kg. I had been fighting at 81kg which meant a lot of dieting. My natural progression was to move to 90 but because I was coaching those three fighters trying to qualify at that same weight I would have felt very uncomfortable going against them!
It turned out that I had done something pretty special.
The Olympic level is something very different. My body was getting older and my ability and motivation to go through the torture at the elite level was probably waning! I would be 37 in Rio and I wasn't willing to be at an Olympics just to take part. Winning a medal didn't feel realistic so I was happy to let the younger guys take over!
I first gave up judo after the 2012 Olympics which hadn't gone to plan. I had the desire and drive to win a medal but that didn't materialise. I moved into coaching and was working with the Scottish athletes aiming for the Commonwealth Games and we had high aspirations being a home Games.
A year after London I was just a coach keeping my eye on the mat. All my focus was on the coaching, but I had never competed for Scotland having always fought under the Union Jack for Britain at the major competitions.
I had spent my whole career training in Scotland and I was very proud to be a Scottish athlete and I thought that if I could give something back and win a medal it would be good for me and Scotland and to end my career.
I was training so much in those last six months. I was then told to focus on winning a medal in the last three months! Fortunately I won gold and it was the most successful Commonwealths ever for Scotland and for judo - It was 30 medals, 14 athletes, six golds - not a bad return!
I was a Scholar in the build-up to London 2012 and it helped in so many ways. Something I became of aware of very quickly was the level and professionalism of the profile of myself as an athlete and judo as a sport.
We weren't stupid because many people didn't know what judo was but driving in Edinburgh seeing the Sky branding and the Team GB branding on a bus stop was amazing and for people to view me as athlete and to make people think that's a sport our kids could do was incredible - that was a major benefit.
I got texted from people at bus stops beside my picture saying 'you're not looking too bad as an old man'! It represented the sport in a good way. People involved in judo are very passionate and they wished more people knew about judo and so getting feedback from Sky and how well you're coming across gave me a good feeling. Seeing your face on the big posters was unreal though! It was almost embarrassing but in a very good way. Boosting the profile of the sport is something I'm very proud of.
I didn't capitalise with a medal but my wife did with a silver at London. She took everybody's hearts.
The amount of time and work you put into your sport, the money you make is often disproportionate and so getting the support from the Scholarship scheme was just a fantastic feeling. It was small things like getting those experiences visiting the Sky studios understanding how to promote yourself, how the industry works and what makes a good story.
It taught me how to deliver my story in a 30-second snippet in front of camera. That makes a big difference as an athlete. Being able to present and talk to people now, you cannot underestimate how big an impact those experiences can have on you going forward.
One amazing thing about the Scholarships was the variety of athletes. We had gymnast Louis Smith and swimmer Liam Tancock and we were all brought together for promotion. You can get caught up in a bubble of your own sport and it was so good to share experiences of other sports with people who went through similar things.
I was always trying to learn and take the good from what anybody is doing and that was very beneficial. I picked up so many little ideas on adjusting training or preparing better.
For any new Scholars, I would recommend them embracing all the opportunities. Get out of your comfort zone! Certain experiences will fill you with dread and you'll wonder how you'll cope. But anything that challenges you help you develop.
They'll need to understand it's such a huge honour to be a Scholar and such a huge opportunity to meet people and learn. Even a tiny fraction of their ability as an athlete can mean the difference between standing or not standing on the podium.
Being the national high performance coach is challenging but my goal is to do well, particularly with athletes heading to the Olympics and Paralympics. I want those guys to be as well prepared as possible and hopefully we can put them in a place to deliver something special.
Aaron Cook started to take Taekwondo lessons at the age of five and what's followed has been a rollercoaster ride of trophies, political wranglings, more medals, Sky Scholarship joy, country swaps and…..the story continues.
On how he started in the sport, Aaron said: "I was five and was inspired by the Power Rangers - trying to do all their moves with my brother in the front room.
"My parents thought it would be good for self-defence reasons. I wanted to be the Red Ranger growing up and I've been lucky enough to be dressed up as the Red Power Ranger and do things for them is a childhood dream!"
He made his big breakthrough at the 2007 Dutch Open at the tender age of 16, winning bronze in his debut senior competition. It was a stunning introduction but there was more a week later where he picked up his maiden senior open title in Germany.
After being crowned world junior champion in the −78 kg division in 2008 - the first Brit ever to do so - there was an impressive run to the semi-finals at his first Olympics in Beijing in 2008, only to be left gutted after losing controversially to his Chinese opponent in the bronze medal match.
He is a three-time European champion having won the −80 kg title at the European Taekwondo Championships in 2010 and 2012 (representing GB) and 2014 where he represented the Isle of Man.
In the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, Aaron became a Sky Scholar and he also teamed up with Manchester United's former fitness coach Mike Clegg. Being a United fan, Aaron hugely enjoyed this experience and benefited hugely.
There was though a controversial omission from the GB team for the London Games despite being world no 1. He switched allegiance to the Isle of Man and represented them in international tournaments from February 2013 until 2015.
More changes followed as Aaron sought and obtained Moldovan citizenship. At the 2015 World Taekwondo Championships, he represented his new country for the first time, losing to former GB team-mate Damon Samsum in the semi-final.
He still went on to win bronze - his first medal in a World Championship.
Shining on the Olympic stage was his big dream and he headed to Rio in 2016 as second seed but was knocked out in the last-16. He said: "I just feel like I've let everyone down after everything I sacrificed."
Cook says his proudest moment in the sport came at the age of 18 when he beat five-time World Senior and twice Olympic Champion Steven Lopez.
"I managed to knock him out which was unbelievable. That moment will stay with me until I die. He's the greatest taekwondo person that has ever lived. To knock a great out like that is like knocking out Mohammad Ali."