Businessman spends half a million each year funding British athletes

Barrie Wells with modern pentathlete Freyja Prentice Photo: ITN

A businessman has put his money where his mouth is, in supporting young British athletes.

Barrie Wells, who made his fortune selling his own insurance businesses, now spreads about £500,000 a year supporting his stable of 18 athletes.

Dai Greene is one of them. The world champion hurdler returned from Delhi with a Commonwealth Games gold medal, to discover his landlord had gone bust - leaving him, effectively homeless. Barrie stepped in and bought him a place to live.

Patron for his foundation is Jessica Ennis, whom he backed when she lost funding after the Beijing Olympics.

He also finances middle distance hopeful Jenny Meadows' high-altitude training.

Modern pentathlete Freyja Prentice has just bought the very latest high-tech pistol thanks to Barrie.

Jodie Williams, the young sprinting prospect, can thank Barrie for paying for half her coach's salary.

He also funded a new set of longer poles for the young pole-vault sensation Holly Bleasdale.

In return they commit to making regular visits to schools hoping to inspire the next generation of sports stars. Of course not everyone who asks for his help gets it but if they do, Barrie is committed.

He will do whatever it takes to improve an athlete's chances of making it to the podium.

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