TOP young British rowing prospect Jess Leyden has explained to sponsors exactly how she took up the sport.
The 16-year-old Todmorden High School pupil has impressed so much in recent outings that she has received a major regional award and is already in line to take a national sponsorship deal.
Jess has received a £1,500 OCS Young Sports Person Award, given in recognition of her outstanding sporting ability.
In the awards scheme, run in partnership with the charity SportsAid, rower Jess beat stiff competition to scoop the top prize for the North East region.
Jess discovered her talent for rowing in an unusual way.
She broke her arm when horse riding, aged 11, and her doctor recommended she take up a sport to help it heal. After a school visit from the British Rowing Funded Scheme, Project Oarsome, she decided to join Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club.
Since then Jess has never looked back, even scooping a gold medal in 2009 in the Women’s Junior 14 Single Sculls event at the National Championships.
Since her 2009 victory, Jess has won six gold medals and two silvers in inter-regional and national competitions, as well as completing the Boston Marathon (50km) in a WJ17 Double Scull in record time.
She recently took part in the Junior World Championships at Dorney Lake, as a test run for the Olympics. Her junior women’s squad was placed seventh overall and Jess loved the experience, which gave her a taste of the excitement of competing at world level.
Jess said: “I am really pleased to have won the OCS Young Sports Person Award and feel very proud of myself. “The money will certainly relieve the financial pressure of competing and will help put me on track to get to the top of my game, which is hopefully going to be competing in the Olympics some day.”
Jess will join the winners from nine other UK regions, four national disability category and the Young Star category winner at a celebratory event on November 24 in the OCS Stand at the Kia Oval.
On the day OCS will announce one overall winner, who will receive a further £8,500 worth of support over three years.