St Albans cyclist Phil Atwill has been hand-picked as a future British Olympian after being chosen to be part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
The 17-year-old Oaklands College pupil will receive a cash injection of £1,000 towards training and competing and is one of only 264 youngsters selected from across England and Wales.
Atwill attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where he rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And Atwill admits his recent recognition will be just the confidence boost he needs as he sets his sights on junior World Championship gold in 2012.
“I thought it was pretty cool when I found out I had been picked for the scheme,” said Atwill - who also was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Park in East London.
“It is great to be looked upon as a local hero. Obviously the funding is going to help a lot because I have to do a lot of travelling to get to races.
“Insurance to do the events is also very expensive and I have raced in South Africa, Italy, France, Canada and California already this year so the additional money will certainly help.
“The main goal for the year is the junior World Championships in Austria so hopefully I can do well there.”
In partnership with SportsAid, the Lloyds TSB initiative is designed to ensure more talent reaches the top of their sport.
In total, 346 talented athletes are part of the programme, with 82 Bank of Scotland Local Heroes north of the border also receiving funding.
Taylor knows about spotting talent having helped mentor London 2012 gold medal hopeful Tom Daley since he was ten, and he believes Atwill and co are the future.
“It’s fantastic for these young athletes to get the funding and support because they have got a massive amount of talent,” said Taylor, who won Olympic 10m platform silver in Athens in 2004.
Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 346 of Britain’s most talented developing athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Since 2008,
the programme has supported 1,000 athletes. Follow future stars at facebook.com/lloydstsblocalheroes.