Thursday, 19 July 2018

Showjumping star is a Henley Olympic hopeful

A HENLEY showjumper is “thrilled” to have been selected for a world class development programme funded by UK Sport.

A HENLEY showjumper is “thrilled” to have been selected for a world class development programme funded by UK Sport.

Tim Wilks, 18, has also been chosen for an advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence by British Showjumping, along with his 16-year-old sister, Anna, and he hopes that the scheme will help him to reach his goal — of representing his country in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Tim, who started riding as a child at his grandparents’ riding school in the Isle of Man, assembled with his sister and 18 other talented youngsters at the Solihull Riding Club on Feburary 10 to start his apprenticeship.

Since he moved to Henley at the age of eight with his sister and parents Caroline and Steve Wilks his riding has gone from strength to strength and he is now one of the sport’s rising stars.

Tim was part of the GB bronze medal-winning junior team that competed at the European championships in Vienna last August.

He said: “I started riding with some friends and took to it straight away, then I started to get a bit more competitive. My grandparents had a house over here too, and we used to come and stay, then we decided to move so I could continue my showjumping.

“My first major thing was being selected for the Pony Europeans in 2010 which was held in Belgium. We didn’t do that great in the competition but it gave me a good taste for it and was a great experience that led to other things. That was my first year of doing competitions at that kind of level.

“I want to compete at the Olympics, that is my main ambition, then later on I want to be world number one. That is more of a long term dream. 2020 would be the aim and it is an achievable goal. I cannot see why I would not be able to do it.”

The former Piggott School student said: “Most of my school friends do not really understand what I do, so the friends that I have now tend to be into showjumping too because they all have the same problems.

“It takes over your life to be honest. Now it is consistency training and slowly building things up to the big picture, which is medals. I am really excited, this is a great opportunity. My parents are very proud but I would not be where I am now without them.”

The apprenticeship covers all aspects of a professional athlete’s career. It develops the riders’ technical and tactical skills, and also ensures they are well prepared to deal with the wider challenges of a career in showjumping. Top showjumping coaches, sports psychologists, nutritionists and fitness experts are on hand to support and develop the athletes. Grand Prix dressage champion Niall Quirk led the first session of flatwork training. He said: “These riders have a great natural ability. The apprenticeship will offer them the potential to become a more educated rider and succeed in showjumping.”

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