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Taekwondo Olympian Mahama Cho up for top award

NOMINATED: Mahama Cho

OLYMPIA MAHAMA Cho is competing to be crowned the National Lottery Athlete of the Year after reaching the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards – the annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded athletes and projects.

Since National Lottery funding for Olympic and Paralympic sport started in 1997, British athletes have won an incredible 860 medals.

The brand new ‘Athlete of the Year’ category provides a golden opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the UK’s world class National Lottery funded athletes, whilst demonstrating the impact National Lottery players have on elite sport.

Taekwondo practitioner Mahama Cho beat off stiff competition from a longlist of 120 other worthy contenders to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards. Cho is one of seven finalists selected by the judging panel for their sporting achievements, passion for their sport and ability to inspire others.

Growing up in the Ivory Coast, with his father abroad, his mother "not in the state of mind" to look after him and barely enough money for food or clothing, Cho's early years were far from idyllic. He was brought up by his grandmother in West Africa and bullied on a daily basis. He was eventually sent to England as an eight-year-old where his love of taekwondo was born.

Mahama Cho has always been a fighter, for protection and a profession.

Speaking on his nomination, Cho said: “I am ecstatic to be nominated for ‘Athlete of the Year’ at this year’s National Lottery Awards. It is thanks to National Lottery players that I am able to represent my country and win medals so it feels incredible to be in the running for an iconic National Lottery Award. It would be amazing for myself and the sport of taekwondo to win the award so hopefully people do go out and vote for me to win.”

The 7 super athletes from the UK shortlisted in this year’s National Lottery Awards are:

Alex Danson, Hockey, England and Great Britain
Emma Wiggs, Para Canoe, Great Britain
Lizzy Yarnold, Skeleton, Great Britain
Mahama Cho, Taekwondo, Great Britain
Duncan Scott, Swimming, Scotland and Great Britain
Katie Archibald, Cycling, Scotland and Great Britain
Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe, Para Skiing, Great Britain

The public vote will decide which athlete is crowned champion in the first ever National Lottery Awards ‘Athlete of the Year’ category. The athlete who finishes in first place will receive a £5,000 cash prize to award to a National Lottery funded project of their choice.

Cho has said he would give his prize to the Manchester Refugee Support Network, an organisation directly managed by refugee communities who provide practical support to those fleeing persecution, conflict, and various forms of injustice and abuse.

The victorious athlete will also receive an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and attend a star-studded glitzy awards ceremony to be broadcast on BBC One on September 26 2018.

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