Jess Leyden from Todmorden has received a £1,500 OCS Young Sports Person Award in recognition of her outstanding sporting ability. In the awards scheme, run in partnership with the charity SportsAid, rower Jess beat stiff competition to scoop the prize for the North East region.
Jess, 16, discovered her talent for rowing in an unusual way. She broke her arm when horse riding, aged 11, and her doctor recommended she take up a sport to help it heal. After a school visit from the British Rowing Funded Scheme, Project Oarsome, she decided to join the local rowing club. Since then Jess has never looked back, even scooping a gold medal in 2009 in the Women’s Junior 14 Single Sculls event at the National Championships.
Since her 2009 victory, Jess has won six gold medals and two silvers in inter-regional and national competitions, as well as completing the Boston Marathon (50km) in a WJ17 Double Scull in record time. She recently took part in the Junior World Championships at Dorney Lake, as a test run for the Olympics. Her junior women’s squad placed 7th overall and Jess loved the experience, which gave her a taste of the excitement of competing at world level.
Learning of her award win she commented, “I am really pleased to have won the OCS Young Sports Person Award and feel very proud of myself. The money will certainly relieve the financial pressure of competing and will help put me on track to get to the top of my game, which is hopefully going to be competing in the Olympics some day.”
Jess will join the winners from nine other UK regions, four national disability category and the Young Star category winner at a celebratory event on 24th November in the OCS Stand at the Kia Oval. On the day OCS will announce one overall winner, who will receive a further £8,500 worth of support over three years.
Previous OCS Young Sports Person Award winners will attend the event alongside a host of top sporting stars including Kate Howey MBE, Wayne Otto OBE, Beth Tweddle MBE and Rory Underwood MBE.
Chris Cracknell, chief executive of OCS said, “The OCS Young Sports Person Awards, now in its 14th year, highlights our commitment to supporting young people who are great role models, not only for their peers, but for many others in business and the community. Their drive and relentless determination to achieve their goals is inspirational. Our grass-roots scheme helps young athletes right at the start of their career when support and funding is needed most. Well done to the athletes who have been rewarded this year and we hope that they will have the same success as many of our past winners, some of whom look set to represent GB in London 2012.”