County Olympic hopefuls get council funding boost
OLYMPIC gold medallist Ed McKeever presented grants to boost the careers of five up-and-coming county sports stars last night.
McKeever, the K1 200m sprint canoeing champion from Bradford on Avon, handed over the £1,000 funding to each of the youngsters, who successfully applied for Wiltshire Council's Future Olympians' scheme.
The scheme awards £1,000 grants to five successful applicants each year to help cover costs associated with their sport.
Among those receiving a grant was Devizes judoka Jemima Duxberry, a current British U20 champion and ranked U20 number one and British senior number seven in her weight category.
In 2012 she won gold at the Lithuania European Cup, Scottish Senior Open Championships, and became the U20 Commonwealth champion.
Duxberry is also a member of England Judo’s Talent Development Squad and is training at Team Bath.
Another grant recipient was Hilperton pole vaulter Hannah Grubb, who is 18 next month, who became South West champion and Midland champion in 2012.
She was second in the U20 English Indoor championships and fourth in the English Senior Championships, representing Britain at the U20 International at Loughborough, finishing second.
Sixteen-year-old rhythmic gymnast Laura Halford, from Cricklade, finished second at the British Championships overall competition and in the apparatus finals came first in the clubs’and second in the ribbon.
She also competed in the Hungary Obuda Cup, finishing first overall, was sixth in the New York State Coaches Cup and the Slovenian Challenge tournament.
She has also been selected for the British Olympic Association’s Olympic Ambitions Programme as a 2016 hopeful.
Salisbury's canoe slalom ace Joseph Coombs and triathlete Hannah Drewett also received grants.
The funding, now in its third year, will be used to help the athletes' access training and competitive opportunities, buy equipment and cover transport costs for attending regional and national events on their path to achieving a place in the next Olympics.
Previous grant recipients included Hilperton's Francesca Fox, who competed as a member of Team GB Rhythmic Gymnastics squad at the London 2012 Olympics, and Trowbridge's Aaron Moores who won a silver medal in the S14 100m backstroke at the Paralympics.
Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for sport and leisure, Stuart Wheeler, said: “These young athletes, supported by their families, are dedicated to their sport and completely committed to being the best at what they do.
"This award will make a significant contribution towards the cost of attending competitions, events and training camps and their future success on the Olympic and Paralympic stage.
“Supporting these future stars is a key component of the council’s commitment to building on the momentum from 2012 so we create a real legacy for the future.
"We believe it’s essential for Wiltshire to maximise this opportunity and we are developing a legacy framework to help us co-ordinate these inspirational health, sporting and physical activity programmes and initiatives to help deliver that long lasting legacy.”
DON'T MISS AN INTERVIEW WITH JEMIMA DUXBERRY AND PICTURES FROM THE CEREMONY IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD