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By John Hutchinson, Sports Reporter
Thursday, July 21, 2011
POTTERS BAR distance swimming sensation Joel Knight heads to the European Youth Olympic Festival this week with one thing on his mind – gold medals.
The 15-year-old finished an incredible fourth in the 1500m freestyle at the senior British Swimming Championships in Manchester in March, behind race winner and Olympic silver medallist David Davies.
That swim made him the fastest 1500m swimmer for his age in British history and his rise is set to continue in Trabzon if he repeats that form.
Knight will be joined by 3000 athletes from 48 European countries on the Black Sea coast and is following in the footsteps of double Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington who was part of the 2003 team.
This will be Knight’s first excursion in a foreign pool and he is intending to start as he means to go on.
“I’m going out there to win. Of course it’s a great feeling to have been selected but now I have to go out and prove that I’m worth it,” said Knight.
“It’s a real honour to represent Great Britain and that becomes even more prestigious when you consider how big this event is.
“I went to France a month ago for an open water event and I got to represent Great Britain in that which was pretty special.
“But this is something totally different, by far the biggest competition I have been in and I know that the competition is going to be tough but you never what might happen on race day.”
And while happy to acknowledge going toe-to-toe with Europe’s best is a daunting prospect Knight is confident his early-season 2011 heroics will help fire him to Turkish glory.
“At the start of the year I really didn’t think that I stood a chance of going to Turkey so to now be on the verge of heading out there is more than I could have dreamed of,” said Knight.
“I won the trials in March for my age group and actually ended up finishing fourth overall behind some pretty big names in British swimming.
“That gives me a lot of confidence for when I head out to Turkey because I know that I can perform when the pressure is on against some really big names.”
Lloyds TSB, in partnership with SportsAid, is providing awards of £1,000 to 344 emerging athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Follow your Lloyds TSB Local Hero at: www.facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes