Sky Academy Sports Scholars' personal mentors revealed

Last Updated: 27/05/2014, 11:24 GMT

Sky Academy Sports Scholars
The Sky Academy Sports Scholars' mentors have been announced

Sky Academy Sports Scholarships is excited to announce the eleven Sky Sports personalities who have committed to helping our talented young athletes during their time on the programme.

I am very happy to have Johnny as my mentor, and I'm excited to work with him for the next few years as I build towards my goal of competing in the Olympics
Quote - Jack Bateson on Johnny Nelson

Each mentor has been carefully selected to work closely with one of the twelve Sports Scholars to share their own individual experiences, whilst offering them extra support and personal guidance.

The Sports Scholarships programme itself aims to help some of Britain and Ireland's most exciting young athletes to fulfil their potential on the international stage through a programme of tailored support covering areas such as finance, media coaching, personal development and mentoring.


Former WBO boxing champion Johnny Nelson will mentor boxers Jack Bateson and Jason Quigley.

Sky Sports Game Changers presenter Di Dougherty will mentor sprinter and long jumper Olivia Breen.

Ex-England rugby league international Phil Clarke will mentor pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale.

Head of Sky Boxing Adam Smith will mentor boxer Savannah Marshall.

Former Rugby Union World Cup winner Will Greenwood will mentor speed skater Elise Christie.

Former Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell will mentor BMX racer Quillan Isidore.

Sky Sports News presenter Natalie Sawyer will mentor 800m runner Jessica Judd.

Ex-professional tennis player and Sky Sports presenter Annabel Croft will mentor road cyclist Lucy Garner.

Sky Sports football reporter Geoff Shreeves will mentor gymnast Sam Oldham.

Sky Sports News presenter Anna Woolhouse will mentor swimmer Siobhan-Marie O'Connor.

Former England cricket captain Michael Atherton will mentor 400m runner Louis Persent.


For boxer Jack Bateson having former WBO champion Johnny Nelson as a mentor is an exciting prospect. Nelson had a stellar career in the ring, overcoming the odds to become a world champion and holding onto his title for over six years before hanging up his gloves.

Since retiring Nelson has made a successful move into the media as a presenter on Sky Sports' boxing show, Ringside. As such he is someone Bateson will be able to go to with any problem in or out of the ring knowing that Nelson himself will more than likely have faced similar difficulties.

"I am very happy to have Johnny as my mentor, and I'm excited to work with him for the next few years as I build towards my goal of competing in the Olympics," said Bateson.

"Johnny has experienced a lot as a boxer, both the ups and the downs. He can share his experiences with me and help me when I may be in need of someone to talk to. Hopefully he will be able to pass on advice when needed."

Another pairing sees 400m runner Louis Persent link up with former England cricket captain, and Sky Sports commentator, Michael Atherton. Both men graduated from the University of Cambridge and as such Persent hopes Atherton will be able to share his experiences having then made the transition into top level sport.

"I'm really happy and excited," he said. "It will be great to have access to a sporting perspective outside of athletics - from someone who understands what it takes to transition from a very academic university to international sport."

"Hopefully it will be an arrangement that develops as I progress. I think having an outsider perspective on things will help me to see the bigger picture. It should be a good counterpoint to the mind-set of training where my focus is on the specifics and details of my sport."

Shared experience

Lucy Garner, meanwhile, is looking forward to have former tennis player Annabel Croft as her mentor. Now a Sky Sports presenter Croft moved abroad as a young athlete as Garner has in the past 18 months and the Team Giant-Shimano cyclist believes that shared experience is crucial.

"It's one of these things where no one actually knows what it's like until they do it," said Garner. "So if I am struggling at any point or need some help it's nice to turn to someone who's been through all that and knows how to deal with it. I think that's going to be really beneficial for me."

"She knows a lot about the media and so that is going to be really helpful for me to get as much information and help from her as I can. I'm really excited to be on board and working with her."

Being part of the Sky Academy, the Sports Scholarship Scheme aims to help our young Scholars build skills, experience and self-belief that can help them both during and after their sporting careers. The mentoring scheme will hopefully play a significant role in helping achieve this.