STAVELEY table tennis starlet Isobel Ashley has been hand-picked as a future British Olympian after being chosen to be part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
The 15-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.
The Netherthorpe School student, who has won the Chesterfield Ladies singles title, attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where she rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And Ashley – a Colin Deaton Table Tennis Academy member – admits her recent recognition will be just the confidence boost she needs ahead of a hectic 2012 season.
She said: “It’s nice to know someone has noticed all the hard work you have put in.
“I’ve got the National Schools Table Tennis Championships coming up this month so to be selected on this scheme is a real confidence booster.
“It can be quite an expensive sport. Travelling to competitions costs a lot and new bats are £66, so the financial support is a real bonus.
“It’s great getting to meet all different types of people from the scheme.
“You get to learn about so many sports and you realise how much they all put into it. It’s a bit of an eye opener really.”
In partnership with SportsAid the Lloyds TSB initiative is designed to ensure more talent reaches the top of their sport.
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. Follow future stars at facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes.
Isobel is pictured.