By David Jordan
BIGGIN Hill athlete Rachel Dickens has been hand-picked as a future British Olympian after being chosen to be part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
The 17-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.
Dickens, who goes to Oxted School, attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where she rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And Dickens, who is a Blackheath & Bromley Harrier, admits her recent recognition will be just the confidence boost she needs ahead of a hectic 2012 season.
“It feels really great to have been chosen to carry the torch,” said Thomas, who also was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Park in east London.
“Last year went well for me so to be recognised is a good feeling and the financial help is going to prove very useful with all the travelling.
“In 2011 I went to Trabzon in Turkey for the Youth Olympics which was great fun but now I want to push on and being chosen for the scheme is a real boost in that respect.”
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.
And Dickens wasn’t the only local success story as Bromley and Beckenham hockey player Robert Farrington was also chosen to join the scheme.
The Whitgift school pupil admitted that his selection had come totally out of the blue.
He said: “The day at Wembley was extremely enjoyable.
“Being chosen for the scheme is a real honour and makes me very proud.
“I have to do a lot of travelling for training and this financial help is a real boost in that respect as well, so it feels really good to have been chosen.”
Also selected was Blackheath and Bromley AC long jumper Jermaine Olasan.
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.
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