Friday, December 28, 2012
After watching their Olympic and Paralympic heroes compete in London 2012, some of these youngsters are more than determined than ever to achieve their dreams.
And now, they have been given an extra incentive.
Twelve sporting and five cultural up-and-coming talented young people are to be funded as part of Norfolk County Council’s sports and cultural foundation with the council and the Norse group providing a total of £245,000 over the next four years. As long as the rising stars continue to progress and meet the criteria set, they will receive annual grants ranging from £1,000 to £5,000.
Some of those who have won funding have already had their first taste of competing at the Paralympic Games – gold medal-winning swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate from Gorleston, Norwich’s goalball player Amy Ottaway, and wheelchair basketball talent Amy Conroy.
Others, however, were inspired by this year’s golden summer of sport and are hoping to make it to the Olympic or Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 or beyond.
Barry Stone, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for cultural services, said: “All of the young people that have been selected to be funded as a rising star are already a success in their chosen pursuit, but we believe that the funding from the county council and the Norse group can help them go even further.
“The funding will help meet a range of costs that they have to face, whether competition fees, travel and accommodation costs, equipment and kit, or even the likes of physiotherapy.
“Their continued success can further inspire others to follow their dreams and I am grateful to the Norse group for their financial contribution which has increased the amount of young people that we can support each year.”
Amy Ottaway, 19, from Norwich, goalball player.
The Wymondham College pupil was part of the goalball squad that reached the top eight in the world at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, losing their quarter-final on an extra-time golden goal.
Since the Paralympics, she has already represented Great Britain in the European Championships.
She said: “The Paralympic Games were the most surreal but most amazing three weeks ever. They gave goalball more publicity and raised its awareness. There are already more people playing, so the legacy is working.
“To receive the funding is amazing. It helps me to continue the training I’m doing, with travel costs, and takes the pressure off mum and dad.”
Bryony Bennett-Lloyd, 17, from Norwich, sailor.
The Norwich High School pupil, who is doing A-levels in chemistry, biology and geography, competes in 420 dinghy sailing and this year she produced progressively good results at home and internationally, including selection for the British Team at the 420 World Championships.
She is aiming for selection to represent GB at the ISAF Youth Worlds 2013. She has the potential to win a medal at this event and this will then make her eligible for selection to the 470 transitional squad of the GB Olympic Team.
The teenager, who has been sail racing for five years, said: “This year’s Olympics has made it more real. Seeing Hannah Mills compete, who isn’t long out of the class I’m competing in, made it really real to me that it’s a possibility of the future.”
Amy Conroy, 19, from Norwich, wheelchair basketball player.
The former Notre Dame High School pupil was part of the GB wheelchair basketball squad at the Paralympic Games.
She was selected for all of the team’s matches and has cemented her place in the team, having broken into the squad back in 2010.
The former Norwich Lowriders player, who lost part of her leg while battling cancer in 2006, has her eyes firmly on the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
Emily Crowe, 14, from Norwich, gymnast.
The Sprowston High School pupil has been a national squad member for three years and has been competing in gymnastics since she was six. She is currently ranked sixth in the country and is Norfolk’s top gymnast for her age.
She turns senior in 2014 and will be eligible to represent her country at the very highest level, such as Commonwealth Games, European and World Championships and the Olympic Games.
The teenager, who has been inspired by Beth Tweddle, said: “I enjoy everything about gymnastics, it’s such a thrill.”
Jessica-Jane Applegate, 16, from Gorleston, swimmer.
Having qualified for her first Paralympics this year at her first attempt, she won gold. She has already started to work on other strokes and distances in a bid to take part in more events at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Her short-term plans are to maximise her training base during 2013 and 2014 and she will be competing at the World IPC Swimming Championships in Canada during August 2013.
The 2015 World IPC Swimming Championships are to be held in Glasgow, so that will be another high profile ‘home’ competition which she will target.
Since winning gold at the Paralympics, Jessica-Jane, who is coached by UEA City of Norwich’s Alex Pinniger, was nominated for the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year award. She also won the same titled accolade at the Active Norfolk Awards this year.
Isaac Kirby, 14, from Bradwell, swimmer.
The teenager is a British record holder for his age group and has his eyes on the Olympic Games in Rio. His more immediate target is the 2013 British Championships next April where a strong swim will qualify him for the British Swimming Team at the 2013 European Youth Olympics in Poland. The Lynn Grove High School pupil, who specialises in 100m and 200m breaststroke, said: “I was really pleased to receive the funding. It’s really good because they are not just recognising people who are already there but those who are coming up as well.”
Jack Utting, 15, from Caister, swimmer.
The Caister High School pupil is the leading swimmer at 200m backstroke for his age and is currently ranked fourth in the country within the wider age classification that he falls into.
He is targeting the Olympics in Rio, with his short-term target also the 2013 British Championships in April, with a view to qualifying for the British Swimming Team at the 2013 European Youth Olympics in Poland. The teenager said: “It was so inspiring watching the athletes compete and medal in the Olympics and Paralympics. There’s a lot of work in it and I’m training every day.”
Alfie Hewett, 15, from Cantley, wheelchair tennis player.
The Acle Academy pupil is Great Britain’s number one at junior level and is soon to be number one in the world. He had the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame through Holt as part of the Olympic Torch Relay and is determined to go to the Paralympic Games in Rio. The teenager said: “It’s great that I’ve got the funding. It means I can do a lot more.”
Georgina Povall, 17, from Hickling, sailor.
The laser radial dinghy sailor won a bronze medal at this year’s Youth World Championships in the laser radial class, having won a bronze medal last year at the European Championships.
She is currently a member of the British Sailing Team, and also the RYA Volvo Laser Radial National Youth Squad, which aims to recognise and support those with the most potential to win medals for RYA Team GBR and progress to Olympic level.
Will Smith, 16, from Westfield near Dereham, wheelchair racer.
The T54 wheelchair racer is the number one under-18 in the country in his field and for 800m and 1500m is also ranked number one in the world. At his last IWAS World Junior Championships in Dubai in 2011 he represented Great Britain, where he won four gold medals and one silver.
He was selected for his first senior international competition in May 2012, taking a bronze medal in the 400m at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.
Will is targeting selection for the 2013 World Junior Championships – where he will move up to under-20 age group.
Selection for the senior England squad for 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is a realistic target, with the ultimate goal being the 2016 Paralympics.
Daniel Bullen, 15, from King’s Lynn, wheelchair table tennis player.
The teenager, who has cerebral palsy, was introduced to table tennis at the King’s Lynn Kandoo Club and has gone on to win titles at national level over recent years.
He is in the Great Britain development squad and hopes to make it to the 2020 Paralympic Games.
The youngster, who trains every day, said: “I’m very pleased to receive the funding. We’ve had no funding whatsoever and I have to travel to St Neots and Sheffield to train.”
Emma Dolan, 14, from Hockering, boxer.
The Attleborough Amateur Boxing Club boxer, who has won 14 of her 15 bouts, won the ABAE National female championships in 2011 and has boxed in several international tournaments, such as the Pirkka Tournament in Finland.
She is aiming to get to the GB trials in August and to compete in the 2014 Female Junior European championships. The Dereham Neatherd pupil, below, said: “It was a big inspiration to see the women boxers step into the ring at this year’s Olympics.”