TAEKWONDO hopeful Adelaide Barnes believes SportsAid’s Next Generation programme, supported by Aldi, can help mould her into a role model for other women in martial arts, writes Jonny Bray.  

SportsAid supports over 1,000 young athletes each year by providing a financial award to help with training and competition costs while also delivering personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions.

Aldi are now working in partnership with SportsAid to support 20 young athletes on their journey to becoming future Olympians and Paralympians – including Barnes – and helping them to eat like a champion.

The 17-year-old was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, but now lives in Preston with her family, and she has already secured two second-place finishes at the British Taekwondo National Championships and a spot on the GB Taekwondo Development Squad. 

Away from the mat, Barnes wants to show women and girls everywhere that they can make a career in a traditionally male-dominated sport. 

"I'm really hoping the programme will help me to have a positive outlook with the media in my career and for people to see me as a role model," said Barnes, speaking after filming a new TV advertising campaign for Aldi, who work with Team GB and ParalympicsGB on the Get Set to Eat Fresh programme, helping school children eat healthier and live an active lifestyle.

"As a woman in martial arts, I think that is a really important thing to have for young girls or for anyone really. 

"Just to have a role model that you can look up to is great, and I hope the programme can help me to present myself in the best way I can.

"The funding will also benefit me immensely. Just having enough money to travel to places will help me a lot." 

Each year, athletes are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria.

The Aldi-supported athletes will be receiving a £2,000 award through SportsAid. Aldi will also support their 20 athletes with a £25 monthly voucher, to fuel them through training, competitions and to future Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Barnes knows the importance of positive role models in sport, having idolised two-time Olympic gold medallist Jade 'The Headhunter' Jones. 

And now, Barnes gets to take to the mat with her hero, training with Jones on a regular basis. 

"I’ve always idolised Jade Jones, she won two Olympic gold medals, and she is an amazing person in real life and to train with as well,” she added. 

"She has always just been a hero for me because I feel like she is so respectful on the mat but also off the mat, so I just love her. 

"She is great to train with, she knocks me about a bit, but it is worth it. 

"It is so surreal. When I got on the British team, I was like, 'oh my gosh, I get to train with my hero'. 

"It was incredible."

Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024.