A teenage sporting star was celebrated as one of Britain’s most promising Olympic hopefuls during a glittering gala attended by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Rower Jess Leyden, 18, of Shore, Todmorden, was invited to the fundraising dinner in London last week after being nominated for the SportsAid One-to-Watch Award.
Jess was put forward for the award by British Rowing in recognition of her recent achievements, which include her being crowned world junior champion.
She made it into the top three but just missed out on the award, which went to a young shooter.
“It was a shock and so exciting to be in the top three, not just in my sport but in others two,” Jess said.
As the teenager spends most of her time in tracksuits and training gear, the ball presented a welcome opportunity to dress up for the evening.
“We were given jewellery to wear from Tiffany,” she said.
“It was nice to get dressed up for the night.
“I hadn’t been to an awards dinner before.
“We met the Duchess and had a meal.
“They showed a video of us on the big screen.”
The highlight of the evening was meeting the Duchess, who spent time talking to the young sporting stars of the future.
“She is so nice,” Jess said.
“She was asking us about our sports.”
Jess will be attending another event this weekend, organised by her sponsors Jaguar.
She is a member of Jaguar’s academy of sport.
It has been a year to remember for Jess, and her success is continuing.
She recently competed in the national under-23 trials and came first, which was a promising start to the next phase of her training programme.
“It’s really exciting,” she said.
Her focus now shifts to long distance training over the winter, as well as jetting off to Spain for an altitude training camp.