Emma mixes with stars

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RISING sports talent Emma Cassell got to mix with the stars on the night when she picked up a prestigious award.

The 12-year-old from Hartlepool was officially crowned North East Student of the Year after impressing the judges in the Sky Sports Living for Sport Awards 2011.

The Manor College of Technology student was one of 12 regional finalists who were also in the running for the national title of UK Student of the Year.

She joined the 11 other regional finalists at a glittering awards ceremony held at Wembley Stadium yesterday to receive her regional award from Olympic sprint legend and Sky Sports Living for Sport Ambassador Darren Campbell.

But Emma, who lives in the Owton Manor area and is the World Schools Biathlon Under 12s champion, missed out on the national crown which went instead to Nick Wood, of Lancaster School, in Leicester.

The Hartlepool youngster was one of the college’s students on its Gifted & Talented Sports programme who were selected to take part in a Sky Sports Living for Sport project which encouraged students to get involved in new sports.

Emma was already a keen swimmer when she got a visit from the Sky Sports Living for Sport Athlete Mentor and double Commonwealth swimmer Chris Cook.

His motivational speech had a lasting impact on Emma who realised the hard work she was putting in, and the sacrifices she was making in other areas of her life, were worth it to achieve her long term goals.

The programme also revealed Emma to be a natural long distance runner. She was entered into the Great Britain Biathlon Schools championships where students compete in two disciplines – swimming and running.

She competed in the Under 14 category against older students and came second. She has since been ranked as the World Schools Biathlon Under 12s champion.

Manor College PE teacher Susan Wilson said: “This project has really brought the best out in Emma. Although she was already incredibly talented, the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative has shown her the importance of hard work and dedication and has motivated her to continue to train and develop her skills as well as exploring her talent for other sports.

“For such a young girl to balance her school work and training with such composure and focus is amazing. She is a star of the future.”