TULLIBODY wrestling star Shannon Hawke admits she will have to pinch herself when she arrives Down Under in the New Year after being selected to represent Great Britain at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
The 16-year-old started this year with the sole goal of making it to Sydney but faced an uphill battle after ending 2011 by tearing her elbow ligaments, keeping her out of action for six months.
This ended Hawke's five-year run as British junior champion but when she did return she made up for lost time, claiming the English Championships title in May.
And the Lornshill Academy pupil didn't look back, qualifying for a spot on the plane as Great Britain head to Australia for the Youth Olympic Festival in January.
Hawke is under no illusions that her Australian adventure will be her toughest test to date, but she insists there is only excitement in her mind ahead of the trip.
She said, "I had been working so hard to make it to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and I was so relieved when I found out I had made it." Shannon, who benefits from being a member of the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes programme, said she had to overcome her nerves before she started her events in qualifying.
Shannon said "I was a bit nervous in my first qualifier but once I got through that it gave me a lot of confidence and I just went from strength to strength.
"I was a bit nervous at the start as to whether I would make it as I was injured for six months and I lost all the titles that I had won the year before.
"But I just came back hungry to show what I could do and I am so glad it has all worked out as the competition will be by far the biggest one I have ever been involved in.
"I hope to do as well as I can but it will also just be such a great experience and I want to learn a lot from it." Hawke claimed one of the three Team GB wrestling spots up for grabs for the trip to Australia, making her achievement all the more remarkable. But despite being all the way across the world Hawke won't be alone as she will be joined by fellow Tullibody Wrestling Club member Brian Harper.
Shannon added "I train with Brian five times a week so we know each other really well and it is great that he is going with me too. There are only three wrestlers going from Great Britain and to think that two of us are from a small club like Tullibody is fantastic for the region. Hopefully we can both go there and do the area and the club proud." Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, has supported 170 of Scotland's most talented developing athletes on their journey towards London 2012. As part of Bank of Scotland's commitment to leaving a sporting legacy, the programme will continue in 2013. Follow future stars at facebook.com/bankofscotlandlocalheroes