World road race champion Mark Cavendish has made what has been described as a ‘substantial’ personal donation to fund three sports scholarships for budding sportsmen and women on his native Isle of Man over the next two years, and is also supporting a programme designed at developing young cycling talent on the island.
The surprise announcement regarding the scholarships was made at the Isle of Man Sports Awards on Thursday, where Cavendish was named sportsman of the year. The sportswoman of the year award went to Aalin George, recently named Great Britain Junior Archer of the Year.
Isleofman.com reports that the initial recipients of the scholarships will be cyclist Chris Nicholson and swimmers Charlotte Atkinson and Laura Kinley.
The Team Sky rider will also be supporting a programme called Cavendish Isle of Man Racing, which has been set up by Isle of Man Cycling to enable young riders to participate in British Cycling Regional School of Racing training camps.
Cavendish, who himself benefited from the backing of Isle of Man Sports Aid between 2000 and 2005, told the audience at the Villa Marina: “This Island produces so many great sportspeople across all sports but you can’t show it when you live on an island, you need to get away and I was able to do that due to the help from Sports Aid Foundation.”
In his autobiography Boy Racer, Cavendish relates how as a teenager he would regularly take the ferry across to the mainland as a teenager to compete in races and training sessions, and he recalled those trips as he unveiled the scholarships.
Referring to that funding from the Sports Aid Foundation, he said: “It was a great help to me going away each weekend on the Steam Packet but even with their support sometimes needed more. I’m now in a position where I can help people who are literally in the same boat that I was a few years ago.”
Gary Corkhill, Chairman of Isle of Man Sport Aid, added: “We are thrilled that Mark has made this very generous offer and he can be sure that it will be making a difference to some of our up and coming sporting talent.
‘We were pleased to assist Mark in the early part of his career and it is marvellous that he is now in a position to offer us help in return.
“What could be more motivational for any young sportsperson, particularly a cyclist, than to be supported by a sporting superstar?”
Cavendish is currently taking a break from racing, with his girlfriend Peta Todd due to give birth to their daughter in the coming days.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.