Sports stars are to share their experience of elite competitions as part of a programme to help people who have been seriously ill with coronavirus.

Abertay University’s Sport v Covid project will pair people with athletes, coaches and sports figures.

Tennis coach Judy Murray, Olympic medallist Eilidh Doyle and basketball player Kieron Achara have all signed up to take part.

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Other stars offering help include Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, British javelin record-holder Goldie Sayers and former American NFL player Aaron Taylor.

They will draw on their experiences coaching and competing against the world’s best athletes to offer coping strategies to people negatively affected by Covid-19 over live video calls.


Murray said: “Sport forces athletes to get to grips with winning and losing. Winning is, of course, easier to handle and although defeats and disappointments are tougher to deal with, they build resilience and persistence.

“It’s all about finding a way through and I love that the Sport v Covid project allows athletes to share their experiences with those who have been most affected by the pandemic.”

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David Bellingham, who spent time in hospital with Covid-19 earlier this year, spoke with athlete Doyle through the Dundee university’s programme before it publicly launched on Thursday.

He said he was struggling to find motivation during his recovery and became frustrated with having to be off work.

“Having a one-to-one conversation with someone as credible as Eilidh Doyle really helped me put things into focus,” he said.

“Hearing about her experiences of coming back from injuries was perfect timing for me and really beneficial in helping me get back to work.”

Doyle said: “This has been a fantastic project to be involved in and I’m delighted to be using my own experiences to help the recoveries of those who have suffered from Covid.

“Being able to share experiences and coping strategies to help manage setbacks and challenges is so important and it was great to be able to feel I’m making a tangible difference to someone on a one-to-one level.”

Abertay University’s professor of duty of care in sport, David Lavallee, led the project.

He said: “Sports people have never been more aware of the role they can play in their communities.

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“This project was inspired by the incredible ability of sports people to care and pass on their experiences in positive ways to others across society.

“We hope the findings contribute to the fight against Covid-19 in helping promote recovery.”

The university hopes to scale the programme up in the coming months.

It is supported by several national and international sport bodies, including the World Players Association, the Footballers Association Scotland and Scottish Rugby.