WILLOUGHBY boccia player Ben Curry has been hand-picked as a future British Paralympian after being chosen to be part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
The 25-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will receive a cash injection of £1,000 towards training and competing and is one of only 264 people selected from across England and Wales.
Boccia is a Paralympic sport belonging to the same family as petanque and bowls for athletes with disabilities that have a major impact on motor skills.
Curry, who went to St Francis Special School in Lincoln, attended the launch of the scheme at Wembley Stadium, where he rubbed shoulders with Olympic diving silver medallist Leon Taylor.
And Curry – who co-founded Crusaders boccia club in Gloucestershire where he now lives – admits his recent recognition will be just the confidence boost he needs ahead of a hectic season.
“It feels very special to have been chosen,” said Curry, who also was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Park in East London.
“This is a big moment because I moved back home after university but wanted to get back into boccia and my game has been improving all the time.
“But the equipment is very expensive and I have had a lot of help and this financial boost is just huge for me. My dream is to be a GB Paralympian, hopefully in 2016.”
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 ten, and he believes Curry 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.
“So it’s great for them to get some recognition and support and hopefully they can go on from here to have great careers.”
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