BERKHAMSTED cyclist Phil Atwill 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 John F Kennedy Catholic School pupil 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.
The initiative, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to some of Britain’s most talented developing athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond.
Since 2008, the programme has supported 1,000 athletes.
Atwill attended a meeting at Wembley Stadium last week, where he rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And the youngster admits his recognition is a big confidence boost as he sets his sights on junior World Championship gold in 2012.
“I thought it was pretty cool when I found out I had been picked for the scheme,” he said.
“It is great to be looked upon as a local hero. Obviously the funding is going to help a lot because I have to do a lot of travelling to get to races.
“Insurance to do the events is also very expensive and I have already raced in South Africa, Italy, France, Canada and California this year so the money will help.
“The main goal for the year is the junior World Championships in Austria so hopefully I can do well there.”
Taylor knows a thing or two about spotting talent, having helped mentor London 2012 gold medal hopeful Tom Daley since he was 10, and he believes Atwill and his peers are the future of British sport.
“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.
For further information on the programme, please visit www.facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes