Katarina Johnson-Thompson has announced that applications for year one of the KJT Academy are open.
The Academy, which is supported by the LFC Foundation, will help to address some of the inequalities within Olympic and Paralympic sports that were highlighted via reports published by Summus Sports Group, KJT’s management, in 2020 by allocating places exclusively to talented 16 – 21-year-old athletes from the North West of England who identify as being from diverse ethnic communities and who are, or have been, in the state education system.
The British heptathlete’s motivation to set up the KJT Academy stems from her personal journey growing up in Liverpool. In August 2020 she penned a letter, published by British Vogue, on the realities of growing up as a mixed raced female girl with ambitions of sporting greatness.
As a 16-year-old, with the ambition of making it to the London 2012 Olympics, she would have to travel across Liverpool by bus for hours each day to train and across the country for days at a time on National Express coaches. She later received financial support from local philanthropist Barrie Wells, who helped fund her driving lessons and transportation needs. The KJT Academy is built on the premise of providing opportunities, with the athlete now hoping to play a similar role for aspiring young athletes from the North West of England by helping them fulfil their potential.
“Reaching your full potential in sport, and in life, should not be about what you look like or how much money you have, it should be about your passion, your desire and your willingness to work hard,” said Johnson-Thompson.
“I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be able to help young athletes from the most underserved parts of our community in whatever way I can. I want to thank the LFC Foundation for their support and all of my partners for coming on this journey with me. Their unwavering support and desire to also help in such a cause is something that I am and I’m sure the KJT Academy members will be hugely grateful for.”
The KJT Academy, and its partners, Summus Sports Group, Nike, Bulk, Muller, Flow Sports Tech and Beyond the White Line, will provide its members with a range of support services and experiences to help them reach their full potential both in sport and in life. Participants will gain direct access to and mentoring sessions with KJT herself, as well as a supply of training kit, nutritional advice and products to fuel correctly, massage devices to aid recovery, prevent injury and support rehab as well as mental health support and career planning.
Hopeful KJT Academy members will be asked to complete an online application form which will be housed on Johnson-Thomopson’s website. The deadline for applications will be at midnight on 19th March 2021 with Academy places being announced in April 2021.
Director of the LFC Foundation, Matt Parish said: “Providing opportunities for children to access sport and physical activity, especially those in underserved communities, is one of the LFC Foundation’s key focus areas - and will be even more important as we begin to recover from the pandemic. Working with the KJT Academy will enable thousands of local children to get active and try something new in a welcoming and supportive environment.”
As well as the individual support offered via academy places, the KJT Academy is working on delivering grassroots opportunities for kids in Merseyside to try their hand at athletics.
The LFC Foundation will support the initiative by delivering a range of community based and grassroots activities aimed at encouraging young people to participate in sport. Working with organisations such as Johnson-Thompson’s own athletics club, Liverpool Harriers, and utilising the LFC Foundations’ expertise within the community, the Academy will run sessions aimed at primary school kids, building on the momentum of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.