EQUESTRIANISM: LIZZIE Bell has Olympic ambitions, but only if they don't interfere with her having fun.
The 20-year-old Cranage dressage rider has established herself as one of the up-and-coming stars of her sport, writes John Buckley.
She has already represented Britain at the European Junior Championships and aims to make her mark at the Nationals at Stoneleigh in September on one, or possibly two, of her horses.
With the Athens Games looming, you might have thought the glory of the Olympics would be uppermost in her mind, albeit Beijing in 2008 or even two or three after that.
She said: 'I'd love to ride at the Olympics, though that might be four or eight years down the line.
'But I'd never want to take my riding that seriously that I didn't enjoy it.
'I'd hate it if it ever became a chore and I don't know if I shall be doing it forever. I don't want it to be a job.'
Lizzie was seventh in the individual rankings at the Junior Euros in 2001, the highlight, she says, of her career so far. Previously she competed at the Prince Philip Games in Australia.
She has been riding horses since she was six, did the round of pony club events and then started to specialise in dressage at 15.
Now she rides for her mum and dad Alison and Graham Bell, who own five horses, including Dior, the four-year-old who Lizzie is taking to the Nationals. She also gives dressage lessons and schools horses.
'I have done everything and just love riding, especially dressage, because it is a fine art and I enjoy teaching the horses.
'I understand why people may think dressage boring, but on the ground you do not appreciate what is going on and I love the feeling the sport gives me.
'All our horses are international standard, but Dior is my favourite. Very special.
'My long-term aim is the Olympics and Dior is only four. He is promising, but he has a long way to go.
'Going up from juniors to young riders, the competition has now got a lot harder. Getting everything right, timing all the different aspects of the sport to come to a peak at the same moment, including the horse's fitness and my own - I am at the gym four times a week - is immensely difficult.
'But because I chose Dior personally, I don't put myself under pressure.
'It would be lovely to win at the Nationals, but I want to enjoy it first and whatever else may happen would be a bonus.
'Next year I shall be out of Young Riders and have to go a level higher and I have two other horses I would like to get qualified then.'
But that's next year. There is still time for Lizzie to get another horse, Majestic, qualified for Stoneleigh at the regional championships and double her chances of success.
Once on board, Lizzie is on her own but she acknowledges the help given to her in training by Ian Woodhead and Gareth Hughes, her parents and Susie Walker, who looks after the horses when she is at competitions.