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The Women’s Sports Foundation’s Travel & Training Fund Awards $50,000 to Aspiring Athletes and Olympic Hopefuls

East Meadow, NY (July 29, 2011) – With the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremonies one year away, the Women’s Sports Foundation today announced that its Travel & Training Fund awarded $50,000 in grants to twelve individuals and two teams, representing twelve sports. In partnership with The Gatorade Company, the recipients each received financial support ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 to help cover coaching, specialized training, equipment, attire, or travel expenses. Many of the athletes have aspirations to compete at upcoming world competitions, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Travel & Training Fund has a long legacy of helping to develop world class athletes. Since 1984, the fund has awarded more than 1,200 grants and $1.5 million to women athletes in a diverse array of sports. Past recipients have captured national, world championship and Olympic medals, including figure skaters Michelle Kwan and Rachael Flatt, gymnast Kerri Strug, bobsledders Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken, alpine skier Picabo Street, wheelchair table tennis player Jennifer Johnson, and the US National Water Polo Team.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation understands the amount of dedication, commitment and focus that it takes for athletes to accomplish their goals, and we are thrilled to be able to provide support for the many deserving female athletes,” said Laila Ali, President of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Many of our Travel & Training Fund grant recipients are hopefuls in upcoming Olympic, Paralympic and non-Olympic sports and we are pleased to be one of the few charitable organizations to offer grants to aspiring women athletes with elite potential.”

Past recipient Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating), current and past Women’s Sports Foundation Presidents Laila Ali (Boxing) and Jessica Mendoza (Softball), and current Foundation trustee Angela Ruggiero (Ice Hockey), also serve as athlete ambassadors for the program and understand first-hand how extra assistance can help others become elite, world-class athletes.

“Entering into an Olympic year, I’m truly grateful for the work of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the support they provide to female athletes through programs such as the Travel & Training Fund,” said Heather O’Reilly, Olympic Gold Medalist (Soccer) and 2011 Women’s World Cup Soccer team member. “Helping to alleviate some of the financial burden of training is just another way that the Women’s Sports Foundation works to help female athletes stay in the game and focused on gold.”

As national sponsor of the Women’s Sports Foundation, The Gatorade Company is the first corporate partner to designate an annual gift to support the Fund and to help accomplished women athletes strive towards competitive excellence in their disciplines.

“We are proud to support women athletes through our partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Travel & Training Fund,” said Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President of Gatorade North America and PepsiCo Global Chief Marketing Officer for Sports Nutrition. “The Gatorade Company is committed to enabling women to have the resources they need to be their best on the playing field, while fueling their dreams.”

The following list details the newest recipients of the Travel & Training Fund. Additionally, the Women’s Sports Foundation’s grant committee is proud to note grantees who are 2012 Olympic hopefuls in kayaking, rowing and track & field (London 2012). Full bios >>

ALABAMA
Aretha Thurmond, Track & Field

ARIZONA
Natalie Vie, Fencing

CALIFORNIA
Natalie Wells, Archery
Elizabeth Newell, Cycling
New Balance Silicon Valley Club Team, Track & Field/Marathon
Carrie Johnson, Kayak

MASSACHUSETTS
Kristin Hedstrom, Rowing

MAINE
Julia Clukey, Luge

MINNESOTA
Maggie Meyer, Swimming

OKLAHOMA
USA Softball Women’s National Team

OREGON
Lauren Johnson, Track & Field

PENNSYLVANIA
Stephanie Jallen, Skiing-Downhill
Kayla Bashore Smedley, Field Hockey

UTAH
Kimber Gabryszak, Skeleton

Athletes interested in applying for the next grant cycle may review the application, criteria and guidelines for the Travel & Training Fund at www.WomensSportsFoundation.org. The official deadline for the next grant cycle is September 23, 2011.

About Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation, founded in 1974, is the leader in promoting sports, health and education for girls and women. With Billie Jean King as its founder and ongoing visionary, the Women’s Sports Foundation continues to have a profound impact on female athletics, from its vigorous advocacy of Title IX legislation to providing grants and scholarships, grassroots programs for underserved girls, and groundbreaking research. An agent for change, the foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and is recognized globally for its leadership, vision, strength, expertise and influence. For more information, visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org

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