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Passion for Sport

Thanks to everyone who entered Passion for Sport 2001 - we didn't know you were all so talented! After many hours of deliberation, we selected our winners - congratulations to them.

Kayleigh Southerton Calum Scott-Woodhouse Twyla Kemp
Philip Taylor Michael Plummer Louise Steele
Louise Darby Laura Toogood Laura Colthart
Gemma Jones Caroline Morris Victoria Jewson

Laura Toogood

Laura Toogood
Regional winner 2001

Laura Toogood is a pupil at the Royal High School in Bath, Avon.

Sixteen-year-old Laura was the winner in School Region three with a piece of written work.

Her entry describes how she has been inspired to aim for Olympic gold by 'the greatest', Muhammad Ali.

'I am the Greatest'

Many sports persons have inspired me, but in particular Muhammad Ali, famous for saying 'I am the greatest.' I believe, with this philosophy, you can achieve anything.

While participating in sport, I've used his words when on the road to achieving my own goals.

A member of the school netball team for seven years, we've been crowned district champions, county champions, and South West regional runners-up, gaining a place in the prestigious National Schools Netball Finals, where only the top sixteen teams in the country compete. I've also gained a place in the champion coaching squad and played in a woman's adult league.

I was a late starter in hockey, but have still loved every minute of it. As a team, our achievements are not as prolific as in netball. Individually, I was selected for the BANES excellence squad and for champion coaching.

I've played numerous games of hockey and netball and also played in the rounders team, swam in the swimming team and thrown as part of the athletics squad, but my main love is the equestrian sport, eventing.

After months of endless training through the winter, I praise the first day of the season. The three-day eventing season. I've been hooked on the equestrian sport since as long as I can remember, but my first real break was in 1999. I was longlisted for the Great Britain three-day event pony team for the European Championships in Sweden.

However, it was not all success, as my heart sank at the final Team Trial, when my pony and I had a crashing fall cross-country. I'll never forget those last three strides into that fence they were surreal and seconds later I felt my pony fall, and to look up and see him lying on me was terrifying.

After that, I dreamt of success. We recovered from the fall and ended our career together as a member of the winning England team in a home international against Ireland.

In 2000, we consolidated our success and had a fantastic season. I was selected to train as part of the Junior Squad after coming ninth in the British team trial for the European Championships in Italy.

We became area champions and national finalists for eventing and showjumping, finishing fifth at the Nationals.

We were selected to ride for the south-west of England in the Junior National Championships, bringing the team home to sixth place and I was nominated for the Rider of the Future scholarship.

My ambition's always been to represent Great Britain in the European Championships, and it'd be amazing to achieve my goal still as a junior.

However, after watching the 2000 Sydney Olympics, my ambitions have been extended, as the dream of lifting Olympic gold for Britain now fuels my passion and with Muhammad Ali's words in my head, anything is possible!

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