By Jack Travers, Sportsbeat
Salford handball player Jonny Haworth has been fast-tracked as a future British Olympian after being handpicked to join the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
The 20-year-old former Rossendale School pupil will receive a cash injection of £1,000 towards training and competing and is one of only 262 up-and-coming athletes selected from across England and Wales.
Haworth attended the launch of the scheme at Loughborough University last week, where he rubbed shoulders with Olympic triple jump champion and world record holder Jonathan Edwards.
And Haworth – who plays for Salford Handball Club – admitted the extra cash would go a long way to helping him realise his Olympic dream.
“The funding will be a massive boost because as a team we travel around a lot within the country and there are sometimes entry fees to pay for,” said Haworth.
“We have got a little bit of funding as a sport but it is very little and we do sometimes need to pay for things when we compete as Great Britain.
“I have been playing handball since I was ten, I started playing competitively in 2003 so I wasn’t part of the recent drive to get people to play the sport – I am one of the originals.
“I have just come back from the World Under-21 Championships, they were held in January, and we are just working down from that and what went wrong and right.
“They were my second World Under-21 Championships and I learnt a lot and now we are just all working together on things for future competitions and I am excited about what the future holds.”
In partnership with SportsAid, the Lloyds TSB, as part of Lloyds Banking Group, initiative is designed to ensure more talent reaches the top of their sport.
And Edwards, a former world, European and Commonwealth champion, believes Haworth’s selection on the scheme will see him deliver on his impressive potential.
“The concept of the scheme is fantastic because it’s helping people out at a really crucial stage of their athletic career when there is not a lot of funding or support,” said Edwards.
“You get the financial help which is crucial but there is also the practical side and hearing about the reality of what a lifetime in sport can be like. Being at the workshops and seeing the athletes was incredible.
“They were really exciting to meet because they are really passionate about what they do and you do just think that people like Jonny are the talented future without doubt.”
Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 344 emerging athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Follow the future stars of TeamGB and ParalympicsGB at: www.lloydstsb.com/localheroes
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