Representing England is the dream for young Norwich boxer Emma Dolan
- Credit: Submitted
Teenage boxer Emma Dolan is one of 19 young athletes involved with the Young Norfolk Sports Academy (YNSA).
The 17-year-old Easton College student is a member of Lowestoft Amateur Boxing Club and the England Talent Programme.
In the latest of our monthly updates with YNSA athletes, the Norwich youngster gives us an insight into her recent progress.
I've been boxing for about eight years now, starting when I was nine years old. My brother started going after watching the Rocky films and I thought it sounded like good fitness so I started to go too.
I watched the first couple of sessions as I was quite shy and nervous, but one of the coaches, Steven Garner, coaxed me around to start and then there was no looking back; I loved it!
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My first fight was on October 16, 2010, which I won. I then went on to win my next 10 fights on the trot.
Losing a fight isn't a nice experience, however with every loss you do learn and it makes you a more complete athlete.
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I have now competed nationally and internationally in 29 contests and just recently I have been asked to be a member of the England Talent Programme. This means I will attend regular sessions at the England Institute of Sport at the GB HQ for boxing, in Sheffield, and represent England in contests.
I have been part of the YNSA since 2014. The programme has supported me and helped me progress with knowledge and training, from nutrition classes and workshops to a psychology course. It has all been a great learning curve to becoming a well-rounded athlete.
The academy is full of amazing athletes who are wonderful and talented people. I'm sure many will go onto achieve at the highest level within their sports in the future.
My favourite workshop so far was the one that we linked up via video with Amber Hill, the 16-year-old British shotgun champion. We were able to ask her several questions on how she balances her sport with general life and how she copes with competing at the highest level.
I recently met up with Amber and Tim Newenham to talk about how we have both progressed and it was great to hear that she has won the World Championships and is now aiming for Olympic gold.
I am grateful that the YNSA paid for a physio screening for me, which was incredibly helpful to see how I can progress my sport by improving my flexibility. The YNSA has helped me grow as a person and an athlete.
Along with the YNSA, the people behind the scenes helping me achieve my success are my long coaches Colin Stephenson, Neil Burwood, Steven Garner and all the team at Lowestoft ABC.
They have helped me progress through sparring and pushing me along on running and circuits; we have a family unit there all looking out for each other!
I am also very grateful to my dad, as without him I wouldn't be where I am or who I am today. He pushes me along every step and drives me about everywhere! I am in a great place at the moment mentally and physically. I have a very supportive group of family and friends and everyone at work at Fitness Express is very supportive too. I would like to just say thank you all very much!
What is the YNSA?
The Young Norfolk Sports Academy (YNSA) is an initiative led by Norwich School, launched in November 2014 with an aim to nurture and develop Norfolk's sporting stars of the future.
The academy is funded through a combination of contributions from Norwich School and the support of 10 local businesses.
Applicants for YNSA are between 15 and 18 years old and ranked in the top 10 of their sport in their home country in their age group.
For more information, go to www.ynsa.org.uk.