I can't wait to cheer on Rio athletes, Kate tells sports charity stars


The Duchess of Cambridge has hosted her first open air summer soiree at Kensington Palace and celebrated a sports charity nurturing Olympic hopefuls.

In the beautiful setting of Kensington Palace's gardens Kate chatted to former Olympians and Paralympians supported by SportsAid and those hoping for medal glory with the organisation's support.

And later before a palace dinner which celebrated the 40th anniversary of SportsAid, she told the charity's supporters and donors she could not wait to cheer on the nation's athletes at the Rio Games.

Kate, dressed in a chic blue dress by Roland Mouret, said: "Some of you may know that I love sport. I love cheering on teams and athletes that I am passionate about.

"I love the physical challenge sport presents and the mental strength it gives us all.  And I love the way it so often brings people together to work as part of a team.

"I suspect many of you in this room may feel the same. The brilliance of SportsAid is in really understanding just how much athletic competition gives to our country as a whole.

"By investing in young sporting talent, they ensure that there is a strong pipeline of inspirational heroes.

"These athletes then serve as motivators to everyone in the UK to get involved, get active, and embrace the power of sport to make us happier and healthier."

Over the years SportsAid has provided financial help to some of the biggest names in UK and world sports, from Sir Chris Hoy - winner of six Olympic golds - and Mo Farah to Paralympian David Weir and Sir Steve Redgrave.

When the organisation was founded in 1976, as part of a plan from the UK's first Sports Minister Denis Howell, the charity was the country's major source of funding for most of its top athletes as they looked to compete against usually better-resourced overseas rivals.

But since National Lottery funding arrived in 1997 to help Britain's top athletes, the charity has focused solely on nurturing  talented young athletes.

Kate added: "With little over 50 days to go until the Games begin in Rio; the next Olympiad is almost here. As we did in London in 2012, we will see a new generation of sporting stars emerge into the spotlight.

"We cannot wait to meet the next SportsAid champions - the next Chris Hoys and Katherine Graingers who will remind us all of the magic and the power of sport. 

"So thank you all for supporting the incredible work of SportsAid.  I am immensely proud to be their Patron and I can't wait to cheer on our team competing in Rio."

Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey Thompson met the Duchess and said about her commitment to SportsAid: "She's always the first to throw off her shoes and get stuck in and because she's so fit and plays so many sports, she knows how important sport is and how it helps."