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As the Games wind up, the royal superfan is especially thrilled

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August 19, 2016 04:35 PM

As the Summer Olympics draw to a close, one fan is feeling a particular kind of pride.

Princess Kate has been keeping close watch as alumni of a charity she backs, SportsAid, rack up medals at the Rio Games. (17 golds, 14 silvers and eight bronze, to be exact.)

SportsAid, which marks its 40th anniversary this year – an event that Kate marked with a celebration dinner at her Kensington Palace home in June – helps up-and-coming athletes with financial and other support as they bid to become heroes of the future.

Laura Trott, who won two gold medals in cycling alongside her fiancé Jason Kenny, received help from the charity when she was 15.

It’s estimated young athletes might spend 800 miles a month traveling to reach their training facilities and competitions – costing around $8,500 a year. “When you’re a teenager, you and the family finding that spare cash is a real challenge,” SportsAid chief executive Tim Lawler tells PEOPLE.

Kate, her husband Prince William and brother-in-law Prince Harry have been given a list of those athletes supported by the charity, and their office has been sharing their joy at some of the highlights for Britain.

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No doubt Kate, who played field hockey at Marlborough College, was rooting from afar, along with fellow royal and patron of the team Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as the British women’s hockey team take on the Netherlands on Friday.

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When she meets athletes and their families or coaches, Kate is “attentive, curious, informed genuinely passionate,” Lawler adds. “Right from the start, we said we would like her to be their champion. She can shine such a great spotlight on them and their story.”

And the budding Olympians “take this huge lift that someone like her has that degree of personal interest in their journey.”

Kate has “always shown a pride and interest in cycling,” says Lawler, and she’s interested in shining a light on a host of sports. “Wheelchair basketball is one that we have in our radar to try,” adds Lawler, as Kate has told them there will be “a moment for that.”

“That would be terrific, because that’s a very inclusive sport where able-bodied and disabled athletes can play together, which is a passion to her. That inclusivity and diversity in SportsAid’s constituency to her is really important to her.”

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