ATHLETICS: OLYMPIC hopeful Stephanie Owens is a step closer to realising her dream.
The 14-year-old thrower has received an invitation to compete for Wales at the 2008 Pacific Games in Australia.
And selectors say the trip is intended as a stepping stone for the 2012 Olympic Games.
West Cheshire AC member Stephanie caught the eye of Welsh athletics chiefs as she powered her way to a gold medal hat-trick at the Welsh Junior Track and Field Championships held at Cardiff 's Leckwith Stadium at the weekend.
She has been handed a place in a 20-strong Welsh squad which will travel to Australia in January 2008 - the first of two weeks would consist be the Pacific Games based at Canberra, and the second would see her in action at the Australian Schools' Track and Field Championships.
Stephanie said: 'I couldn't believe 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 and news of a call-up capped a fantastic weekend for me.
'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 is the UK's number one for hammer in the under 15s age group, despite only taking the event seriously eight weeks ago.
She clinched the Welsh title at the weekend, throwing 33.74m, before adding a 10.19m shot put victory and a winning throw of 29.90m from the discus circle. Meanwhile, Wirral AC member Samantha Appleby gave a great performance at the championships.
The Chester 18-year-old came second in the Welsh U20s 400m hurdles.