EASTBOURNE footballer Kellie Larkin has been hand-picked as a future British Olympian after being chosen to be part of a Local Heroes initiative.
The 15-year-old will receive a cash injection of £1,000 towards training and competing and is one of only 264 youngsters selected from across England and Wales.
Larkin, a pupil at Willingdon Community School, attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where she rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And Larkin – captain of Brighton and Hove Albion’s U15 women’s side – admits her recent recognition will be just the confidence boost she needs ahead of a hectic season.
“It’s a real honour to be part of the scheme and to meet all these new people from different sports,” said Larkin – who also was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Park in East London.
“It’s a great opportunity and to be given this money is going to be massive to my development as a player hopefully.
“I’ve been involved with the England Under-15s for a while now, I’m on stand-by for a game against Holland in April and I’m hoping to make that step up.
“This is a big confidence boost, it feels like someone really believes in me because sometimes you have a few knockbacks and think you’re not going to make it.
“I hope to progress and make a few England appearances over the next few years I just have to keep working.”
In partnership with SportsAid the Lloyds TSB initiative is designed to ensure more talent reaches the top of their sport.
In total 346 talented athletes are part of the programme with 82 Bank of Scotland Local Heroes north of the border also receiving funding towards training and competing.
Taylor knows a thing or two about spotting talent having helped mentor London 2012 gold medal hopeful Tom Daley since he was ten, and he believes Larkin and co. are the future.
“It’s fantastic for these young athletes to get the funding and support because they have got a massive amount of talent,” said Taylor, who won Olympic 10m platform silver in Athens in 2004.
“So it’s great for them to get some recognition and support and hopefully they can go on from here to have great careers.”
Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 346 of Britain’s most talented developing athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Since 2008, the programme has supported 1,000 athletes.
Follow future stars at facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes