Todmorden rower receives OCS Young Sports Person Award

Todmorden rower Jess Leyden received a £1,500 OCS Young Sports Person Award on Thursday, at a star-studded ceremony in central London.

The 16-year-old scooped the award for the North East region after a medal-laden two years with Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club and the GB Rowing Team.

Leyden first entered the sport as an 11-year-old, after a visit to her school from British Rowing’s Project Oarsome.

She went on to claim a J14 1x gold medal at the 2009 National Championships, and has since won six gold medals and two silvers in regional and national competition – as well as representing Great Britain at the World Rowing Juniors Championships in August.

‘I am really pleased to have won the OCS Young Sports Person Award and feel very proud of myself,’ said Leyden, who joined nine other regional winners at the Kia Oval, London, for the award ceremony on Thursday.

‘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.’

Leyden’s award was presented by Sarah Winckless – Olympic bronze-medallist and Chairman of the British Olympic Assocation Athletes’ Commission – and Richard Boulton, of the GB Rowing Team.

British Rowing Chairman Di Ellis also attended Thursday’s ceremony, which included appearances from gymnast Beth Tweddle, former rugby union international Rory Underwood, and Kate Howey – a double Olympic medallist in Judo.

‘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,’ said OCS Chief Executive Chris Cracknell. ‘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.”

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