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Harriet Shillito: Rising Garforth badminton star looks towards London 2012

Garforth's rising badminton star Harriet Shillito insists her selection for the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes scheme is already enhancing her dream of emulating Olympic ace Gail Emms at London 2012.

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The 16-year-old is one of 250 emerging Brits that will receive 1,000 each year in the run up to London 2012 - plugging a financial gap as Shillito is yet to achieve World Class lottery funding.

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And Shillito, who is going into Garforth Sixth Form this year will also benefit from the knowhow of Lloyds TSB local hero mentors including former Olympic triple jump champion, Jonathan Edwards, while she has already put the cash to good use investing in some state of the art new racquets.

And after watching Emms, who won silver in Athens in 2004, bid a tearful farewell in the mixed doubles' last 16 in Beijing the teenager is already aiming to pick up where she left off at London 2012.

"The equipment has been a massive boost in terms of keeping my equipment up to date. In badminton it is important to keep up with the new racquets and kit and the scheme has helped me do that.

"The grant has allowed me to get back into more intensive training and it is my goal to break back on to the international scene.

"I have been to a tournament in Belgium with England before and it was a fantastic experience. Hopefully one day I can enjoy a lot more experiences like that one.

"My goal in the short term is to break into the GB junior squad - if I could do that I would be delighted.

"And then after that the senior squad and if that happens then I couldn't rule out London 2012 but at the moment I just have to take things one step at a time."

Shillito underlined her potential by representing England at under-13 level and winning an Inter-county tournament in South Yorkshire earlier this year.

And former Olympic and World Champion Edwards, who still holds the triple jump world record, is predicting a golden future for Garforth's next big thing.

"There is a lot of money in sport now through the lottery but Harriet is not quite good enough just yet to take advantage," said Edwards.

"She still makes a huge commitment in time and money in order to do what she does and she doesn't get a lot back. This relieves a bit of pressure and gives her a boost.

"Sport can be lonely so when someone comes along and believes in you enough to give you 1,000 it makes you realise you will make it after all."

Lloyds TSB is providing up to 1,000 to 250 emerging young sports people identified each year across Britain, in the run up to London 2012 and beyond.

* Fore more information visit: www.Lloydstsb.com/Localheroes

 
 
 

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