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Para-swimmer Ellie Challis ‘shocked’ to win SportsAid’s One-to-Watch award

Para-swimmer Ellie Challis admitted to feeling ‘shocked’ after being named as SportsAid’s One-to-Watch.

The 15-year-old, from Essex, was chosen ahead of nine other nominees by the charity after an outstanding year which saw her set one world and two European records at the British Para-swimming International Meet and also win a bronze medal at the World Para-swimming Championships in London.

Challis edged out canoeist Daniel Atkins, 18, and sprinter Amy Hunt, 17, as they finished in second and third respectively.

She received her One-to-Watch award from Dame Katherine Grainger at SportsAid’s prestigious Celebrate the Next event and follows previous aquatics winner Tom Daley.

Challis said: “I was so shocked when I heard my name read out as the winner of SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award.

“It’s blown me away to hear about all the amazing achievements of the other athletes and then realise I’m the one who has won the award!”

As well as her trophy, Challis will also receive £1,000 and a Nike kit allowance worth £3,000.

The top 10 shortlisted athletes were selected from around 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports in 2019.

Challis added: “SportsAid is really important because travelling around the country costs a lot.

“Without it [SportsAid], it would be very difficult to do what we do.

“The Europeans and Tokyo 2020 are high on my priority list for next year – the aim is to qualify.

“I’m going to go to qualifiers and then just get out what I can from the experience, and if I qualify then great!”

SportsAid alumna Grainger was delighted to be able to present the One-to-Watch Award to Challis at the Celebrate the Next event and predicted a bright future for her and the others shortlisted.

She said: “The One-to-Watch Award is fabulous because we get to have a look at what the future might hold.

“I’ve been on the judging panel a few times now and every year it’s so hard. We really struggle to make the decision – they are outstanding athletes who are as young as 13 and have already had international success.

“SportsAid is often the first hand to reach across that gap to say they believe in you and your future.

‘That confidence that SportsAid gives – and the extra support and recognition – makes a huge difference to the lives of young people at that point of their career.

“It is quite game-changing for those who have made the top 10.”

Main picture: SportsAid Twitter Page