AXMINSTER fencer Jess Gundry has been picked as a future British Olympian after being chosen to be part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.

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The 16-year-old 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.

Gundry, a pupil at Wellington School, attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where she rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.

And Gundry – a Wellington Swords member – admits her recent recognition will be just the confidence boost she needs ahead of a hectic 2012 season.

“It’s massive to be given the confidence from people outside your sport and be told you can actually get somewhere,” said Gundry – who also was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Park in East London.

“The money will help a lot with training; the amount of costs that add up through fencing can get too much and the funding makes it a lot more manageable.

“Team GB selection starts in September for the Under-17s and this has given me a real boost ahead of that.

“My aims this year will be to try for that, and to win the British Youth Championships in Sheffield in May. I won the epee category in 2010 and it would be great to do it again.”

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 towards training and competing.

Taylor knows a thing or two about spotting talent having helped mentor London 2012 gold medal hopeful Tom Daley since he was 10.

“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

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