International GB Junior Triathlete, aspiring Olympic and World Champion
27th February - I have just been in Spain on a training camp which was amazing. I went with the West Midlands and London regional triathlon academies. In two weeks time I am heading down to Wales with 4 other GB junior girls for a weekend with Helen Jenkins who is an olympian and a world champion. A great big thank-you to everyone who has pledged money so far. 2 weeks to go and fingers crossed!
With the money raised, I would like to use it to finish off building my bike on which I will race this season. It would also help cover the high demands of membership costs, travel costs and the rest of the equipment needed for training and racing. Last years costs were in excess of £7000 which made life extremely difficult for my parents.
My name is Leah I am 17 years old and I live at home with my Mum, Dad and older brother Jordan. I started swimming lessons before my third birthday, took dancing lessons from five and at the same time I started taking Karate lessons. At eleven I took up running joining Bolton United Harriers. The only unfortunate thing about growing up was having to make choices about which activities I would give up as swimming in particular got more demanding. With my love of all sports it seemed logical when asked to trial for the Triathlon England North West Academy that if selected this was a dream sport for someone who loves sport. You get to do three sports!
The only time I have ever been upset in sport is when I have felt my competitors have an unfair advantage by having better equipment than me. A good example is that when I qualified for the 800m freestyle at the ASA National Swimming Championships I swam the event in a £17.99 costume. My competitors were wearing swimsuits costing in excess of £250. I must add I have had lots of support in my journey in sport and hundreds of people that I owe a huge debt to.
In order to stay competitive I have had to raise money doing things like sponsored swims but always felt a little embarrassed as you always seem to be asking the same people. I have received funding from Sportsaid which was a great help in getting my first real road bike. My best supporter by far has been Kevin Davies who has, through his charity KiDs of Bolton, funded three training camps that made the biggest difference to my performance and been instrumental in me gaining a place on the England Talent Squad. I must also mention in no particular order Marc Laithwaite, Andy Rawley and Mike Myers who got a very raw athlete and shaped her into something approaching an Elite triathlete.
The next two years are the biggest years of my sporting life and I feel with the financial backing I am asking for I can go all the way. At least I would never have to say "if only".
At the moment I represent Bolton Swimming Club and Bolton Metro Swimming Squad, Leigh Harriers Athletics Club and Tri Team Wigan. Within my talent, I am top 4 in the UK for my age group and 20th within Europe.
A typical training week for me consists of 5 x 2hrs swimming sessions, two starting at 5am, 3 x 1hr runs and around 8hrs cycling . Up until 2009 we used to holiday in Greece, from 2010 to 2012 we went camping for our family holiday. Last year we were unable to have a family holiday at all due mainly to the ever increasing costs of my sport. My family never complains and wants me to have the best chance to succeed and I try and repay that sacrifice by training as hard and as often as I can.
I recently developed a problem with my foot that resulted in me needing physiotherapy, fortunately Marc Laithwaite of The Endurance Store asked a favour of his friend at Summit Physio to help out otherwise my season could have been over before it began as we couldn't possibly afford the fees. So many people have helped me along the way and I am not in a position to repay them so I have decided to help inspire other children to follow my path. I am in the process of setting up a presentation at my Auntie's primary school in the hope that I can inspire some of the children to lead a healthy, happy, fun lifestyle. If successful I hope to do this at more primary schools in my home town.
Swimming: Qualified for the ASA national Age Group championships 800m. Qualified for the ASA Youth swimming championships for the Open Water.
Running: selected to run for my county each year I have been eligible for the Inter Counties cross country. Selected to run for my county each year I have been eligible for the English schools cross country championships, also qualified to run in the 1500m for my county at the English schools track and field championships in 2011.
Triathlon: 2nd British Champs Duathlon. 5th ETU European Junior Duathlon. 4th ETU European Youth Relays Triathlon. 12th ETU Junior European Cup. 4th overall British Super Series Junior girls.
First girl to break 1 minute for the 100m freestyle in the 140 year history of Bolton Swimming club.
Awarded with the 'Inspired by Paul Taylor' award at the Northwest Triathlon Presentation evening.
Winner of the inaugural Brownlee Triathlon 2013 and awarded with Jonny's trisuit and my own SLR 9.8 Elite bike frame.
Short term is to be able to compete at the European and Junior World Championships this year at Kitzbuhel and Chicago. I hope that my success also carries me into 2015 as my last year as a junior competitor. My future goal is to have a very successful U23 career and make it to the World Elite Triathlon circuit. From then to podium overall, make Commonwealth and the Olympic team and to come home with a medal.
I truly believe that I have great potential in triathlon. I am getting stronger with each session and always give more than 100% in each training session.
Raising the money will give me such a huge benefit going in to this year, knowing I have the right equipment and not having to worry about going off what I can afford. At past events I have had to get up at 4am to travel to the competition because we couldn't afford to stay overnight in a hotel This would mean that I can truly focus on what is really important and it will reflect in my performances this year as I know that I am getting faster and stronger with every stride. With the money my future goals will be achievable knowing I have the support behind me.