For Penzance triathlete star Neil Eddy, 37, training is a way of life. The former long distance world champion has raced all over the world and his sights are now firmly set on winning gold at this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

He won silver there in 2019, completing the gruelling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run in 8:49:49. In 2023, he won the age group title in the Challenge Championships in Samorin, Slovakia, and was second in both the Half Ironman World Championships in Finland and the Barcelona Ironman. 

Access to local leisure centre facilities is critical in helping keep Neil at peak fitness. Which is why he’s very grateful to the GLL Sports Foundation (GSF) for their support over the last four years and why, as a Cornish athlete, he’s applying again.

Operating under the Better brand, GLL is a not-for-profit social enterprise and workers’ cooperative that runs 240 leisure centres nationwide – including nine in Cornwall. GSF was launched in 2008 and has made nearly 26,000 awards, worth more than £14m, since then. 

In 2022, Neil and 83 other Cornwall-based athletes across a wide range of sports benefitted from the scheme.

“Getting a GLL award means it’s easy to access a leisure centre anywhere in the UK and train for free,” said Neil. 

“I currently balance 16-20 hours per week training around my day job and being able to use gyms and swimming pools is an essential part of my fitness programme.”

In 2023, Neil was hit hard by a sickness bug two days before the Kona World Championship. Managing to finish is testament to his stamina but being denied a podium place because of his health at the time has made him even more determined to win that coveted gold medal this year.

“I still don’t know how I managed to complete the race, but my training clearly played a big part in keeping me going,” he said.  

“The GSF award is invaluable, and I will definitely be applying again this year.”

GSF applications for 2024 opened on 20 December 2023 and run until 20 February. For more information, visit www.gllsportfoundation.org