A new scheme has been launched at Chester Rugby Club aimed at producing the next generation of Olympians.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and Sport Cheshire have teamed up to create the West Cheshire Insitute of Sport, making use use of brand-new, state-of-the-art facilities at the rugby club’s Hare Lane ground.

As part of the plan, which also aims to increase sports participation across Cheshire West, 20 budding athletes have been selected to benefit from elite coaching and facilities to aid their development through mental strength coaching, performance and diet.

Olympic canoeist Tim Baillie, who struck gold at London 2012, was on hand at the club on Tuesday, to talk to the 20 youngsters selected about the attributes needed to perform at an elite level.

Fifty candidates were put forward for the sought after places, with one of the 20 chosen, Backford snowboarder and Bishop’s High School student, Owen Godbold, 14, believing the initiative will help him achieve the heights.

“It’s really exciting to have the chance to work with top coaches and improve myself,” said Owen, who trains at the Chill Factore in Manchester.

“I spend three days a week in the gym and a lot of time on dry slopes but one of the key things that athletes have to develop is mental strength, and that’s what the Institute will help me do.

“It will also help me to manage my diet appropriately and analyse my performance. I’m really looking forward to it.”

CWaC leader Cllr Mike Jones highlighted the importance of investing in sport and the benefit that the initiative would bring.

“The centre is a fantastic facility to help our most talented athletes in Cheshire West achieve their potential, but it isn’t just about that,” said Cllr Jones.

“Our focus isn’t simply on elite athletes, however, we are investing to increase participation in sport across the borough, from the young to the elderly, able bodied and disabled.”