Azu Like It: Sprint Star Jeremiah Among Welsh Athletes Backed By Ron Pickering Memorial Fund

Sprint ace Jeremiah Azu among Welsh athletes backed by Ron Pickering Memorial Fund. Pic: Owen Morgan

Azu Like It: Sprint Star Jeremiah Among Welsh Athletes Backed By Ron Pickering Memorial Fund

By Owen Morgan

A number of Welsh athletes have successfully applied for funding under the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund Grants.

Teenage sprint sensation Jeremiah Azu and junior female Welsh athlete of the year Bethany Moule are among those who will be supported by the scheme in 2021.

The annual grants were launched in 1992 in memory of the legendary athletics coach and broadcaster, who was a national Welsh coach and guided long jumper Lynn Davies to Wales’ only individual track and field Olympic gold medal.

The charity was set up by Pickering’s wife Jean and his children Kim and Shaun, who himself won a shot put bronze medal for Wales at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and represented Great Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Since its inception, the fund has granted several thousand small but individually significant awards to promising British Athletes, totalling £2m.

This year’s grants and the future of the foundation itself were in doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the generosity of the foundation’s army of fundraisers – known as “Ronners” – has allowed almost £30,000 in grants to be awarded to 196 talented young British athletes.

A statement by Ron Pickering Memorial Fund said: “It was only because of the incredible efforts of our “Ronners” that were due to run in the 2020 London Marathon, but instead chose to take part in various “virtual” running events and continue to raise money for us during the pandemic, that we are able to offer any grants this year.

Bethany Moule broke Welsh U20 record taking bronze in British Champs.
Manchester. Pic: British Athletics/ Getty Images

“While we have had to reduce the total amount of the grants awarded this year compared to recent years, and the individual levels of the grants awarded, due to the reduced funds available to us, we are pleased that we were still able to help as many athletes as we did.

“In what proved to be a difficult year for all athletes, we knew that we would have a great demand for support from RPMF and we received over 450 applications during October and November of 2020.

“Without a normal competition season to judge our selections on, and with all athletes impacted by the lockdown and lack of access to facilities for virtually every athlete, the selection process was made much more complicated than usual.”

As well as Cardiff speedster Azu and javelin thrower Moule, of Neath Harriers, several of Wales’ brightest young stars have been successful in gaining grants.

Swansea Harrier Joe Brier also among young Welsh athletes backed by fund. Pic: Owen Morgan

Among them are Great Britain 400m international Joe Brier, of Swansea Harriers and hugely promising 17-year-old distance athlete Osian Perrin, of Menai Track and Field.

Cardiff 400m hurdles star Lauren Williams is also a beneficiary, along with 2019 Welsh javelin champion Bethan Rees, of Cannock and Stafford AC.

Although 10 para-athletes have received funding, the foundation organisers said they were disappointed that the number and quality of applications was lower than they would like to see.

They also revealed some of the recipients this year had contracted coronavirus.

The statement said: “We were thankful that relatively few athletes themselves had been affected in this way, but many were of course impacted within their families and the mental stress that this brought on the athletes was also evident.”

Cardiff’s Lauren Williams will also be supported by fund. Pic: Owen Morgan

With competition opportunities at a premium since the start of the pandemic, this year’s grants are more vital than ever to help the development of young British athletes.

In the past, the likes of 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith, European 1500m champion Laura Muir and double Welsh record holder Melissa Courtney Bryant have also been supported by the fund.

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3 thoughts on “Azu Like It: Sprint Star Jeremiah Among Welsh Athletes Backed By Ron Pickering Memorial Fund

  1. Thank you for the nice write up and support of what we at the RPMF are trying to do. One small correction however, is that it was Ron’s wife Jean (and not Mary as you stated), herself a European Champion in the Long Jump in 1954, who sadly passed away in 2013, that started the Memorial Fund to keep not only Ron’s memory alive, but also his ideals and belief’s that “Sport is the greatest commodity that we have to pass on to the next generation”, and this is why we try to do what we can to support young athletes.

    It may not be a large amount, with Grants this year ranging from £100 to £500, but it was a similar grant, in to form of a cheque to a 15yr old Mo Farah that allowed him to buy his first pair of spikes, and kicked off his love for the sport. This is why we do it, and we are proud that two thirds of any British Team at Olympic, World and Junior Championship level have been supported by the RPMF at somepoint in their development.

    We do what we can with what we have available and are always looking for more support so we can do more, and would direct anyone to our website if they would like to contribute or help in any way. All of the trustees give their time freely, so 100% of any money raised or donated will go towards the young athletes.

    With Thanks

    Shaun Pickering.

    1. Hi Shaun, apologies for the name error. Now corrected.
      Thanks for your kind words about the story. We’re very pleased to be able to support such a worthy fund and reminder of a such a great man who was part of so many people’s childhoods.

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