PAPER girl Stephanie Collister has been congratulated on her selection for the UK School Games by Olympic champion Jason Gardener.
The Wrexham Fencing Club member, who delivers the Wrexham Chronicle near her Burton home, will compete in the women’s foil at the annual extravaganza.
Organisers hope it will give the 13-year-old and her fellow rising stars the perfect insight into what it is like to take part at a top-class multi-sport event.
Retired sprinter Gardener, whose first taste of an athletics village came when he was 22 at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, believes it will.
“It was wonderful being part of a multi-event although ideally you don’t want to be going to a great championships like the Commonwealths and dealing with a different environment which you’re not used to,” said 32-year-old Gardener, who won men’s 4x100m gold at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
“You certainly wouldn’t want our future Olympic team to experience their first multi-sport competition in 2012, so we need to ensure that everything has gone into preparation of our young athletes and make sure they are able to cope and deal with that kind of environment when it comes around.
“Stephanie will learn what it is like having to take responsibility for getting on the right transport, eating at the right times and also how to deal with the distractions in the athletes village. This is as important as all the training which goes into competing.”
Stephanie, coached independently from the Wrexham club by Jayne Hanlon, heads into the Games, which run from August 28-31 in Bath and Bristol, in good form having this year won a silver medal at the Under 14s British Youth Foil Championships and a bronze at the U14s British Youth Epee Championships.
The Christleton High School student, who hopes to break into the Great Britain U17s squad, is sponsored by Asda in Rhyl and as their chosen Sporting Chance athlete has also received sponsorship from Wrexham FC owner Geoff Moss and Stuart Williams, franchisee of McDonald’s, Wrexham.