ATHLETICS: WEST Cheshire AC's Stephanie Owens has taken her first steps to becoming the club's first-ever Olympian.
The 14-year-old thrower received a shock call-up to the Wales squad for the 2008 Pacific Games in Australia in which the country's elite young athletes will be groomed before the 2012 Olympics.
Stephanie received her invitation at the weekend when she powered her way to a gold-medal hat-trick at the Welsh Junior Track and Field Championships held at Cardiff's Leckwith Stadium.
West Cheshire AC chairman Dennis Wall said: 'Stephanie's performances caught the eye of a Welsh team selector at Cardiff and she has been offered a place in a 20-member Welsh squad that will travel to Australia for two weeks in January 2008. Although she lives in Buckley, her heart is very much with our club in Ellesmere Port and she might become our first Olympian.'
Amazingly, Stephanie, who is also an accomplished ice skater, has only been training in the hammer for eight weeks, but thanks to the coaching of Dan Gilroy and Dennis Roscoe, she is already ranked number one in the country in her age group.
She said: 'I couldn't believe that I was being offered a place in the Welsh senior team at the Pacific Games in Australia. It has always been an ambition of mine to represent my country. The selector said he wanted to take the best Welsh athletes to the Pacific Games which would act as a stepping stone to the 2012 Olympic Games.'
Stephanie clinched the Welsh title at the weekend with a throw of 33.74m, before adding a 10.19m shot put victory and a winning throw of 29.90m from the discus circle.
Meanwhile, WCAC's Paul Bateson scored a hat-trick of victories on Sunday at Deeside Stadium for Cheshire Tigers in the third round of the National U20 Junior Track and Field League Mersey Division match.
Paul hit 6.26m to grab success in the long jump, cleared 1.85m to win the high jump and then joined WCAC team-mates Martin Jones, Tom Price, and Carl Van Schie to post a winning sprint relay time of 48.4sec.