Two Sandwell sisters are making huge strides in their bid to become top international athletes -  after being backed by the borough’s Gifted and Talented scheme.

The sisters Josie and Iris Oliarnyk have been backed by the Sandwell Council programme and have made huge improvements to get to national and international standards.

Josie is currently second in the UK for her age group at long jump and recently competed for England in Bratislava. She completed in the British Championship in Birmingham against the likes of Olympic athletes Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Iris is Midland Champion for the shot and ranked second in the UK for triple jump. She took part in the Midland Championships recently where she achieved two personal bests, in the shot and the triple jump.

And there was more success last weekend (24/25 February) at the England Athletics Age Group nationals in Sheffield.

Josie came fourth overall with an amazing long jump of 6.02 metres, achieving a new personal best, with Iris coming second in the triple jump, also achieving a personal best of 11.99 metres making her second in the UK.

They have been supported by the Gifted and Talented scheme and cabinet member Councillor Paul Moore said: “It is very pleasing to hear that these very talented  sisters are making such a mark in their chosen events.

“It is also very satisfying to hear that the sisters’ parents have said that without the support of the Sandwell programme the girls may not have been able to achieve these excellent achievements.”

“We set out to support talented young athletes in the borough and I hope that the efforts of Josie and Iris will inspire others – and encourage them to seek support funding.”

Young people – able-bodied and disabled - seeking support can apply for assistance on application forms on the council’s website in a bid to get funding.

Youngsters backed by the scheme can get grants of up to £500 a year to support the costs of competing in events under the scheme which was launched in March 2016.


So far 18 people have been supported  giving them help to compete in a wide range of sports, including athletics, swimming, hockey, tennis, gymnastics and karate. The girls’ father John said: “The grants my daughters have received from the Gifted and Talented scheme have been hugely helpful to help with the costs of travelling to events around the country.


“The girls are very pleased to get the financial help that Sandwell Council has provided for them to cover some of these costs and will always be grateful for the support at this important stage of their development.”