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He might have just missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics, but pupils at Rossall School gave Blackpool's own Pentathlete, Steven Mason, a send-off fit for an Olympian.
Steven left the school campus where he's trained for the past four years to join Team GB's High Performance Training Centre in Bath, in preparation for the 2016 Games.
As the final project of the school year, children from Rossall's infants and junior schools produced their own versions of the Olympic torch, to form a guard of honour for the young athlete, who has been an ever-present on the School's campus since it was chosen as the northern training camp for Pentathlon GB's athletes from across the region. They had wanted to give Steven a send-off on the day the Olympic Torch procession came to town, but the severe weather of two weeks ago forced a rethink for the young Rossallians.
Steven, who missed a whole year of his training programme in 2010 due to knee surgery, recovered to compete in the World Cup in Mexico 2011 and is the youngest British male ever to compete at the senior world championships for Modern Pentathlon. He is currently the fastest in Britain in the Modern Pentathlon's 3000 metres event, and despite losing ground because of the injury setback, only narrowly missed out on selection for London.
Said Rossall' head of juniors, Katie Lee: "We're all disappointed that Steven missed our own Olympics this year. If he'd had a clear training period it might have been different, but he's only 21 and Pentathletes tend to mature in their late twenties, so by 2016 he should be ready, barring any injuries. That's why our children wanted to give him a consolation send-off to remember. They know he's a really good athlete and that's why they decided to honour him with an Olympic tribute of their own. They'll all be watching him closely in future and will now get behind the next batch of Pentathletes training here at Rossall.”
With Steven Mason's move to the national training centre comes his transition to full-time athlete, which requires him to find sponsorship to see him through the next four years. He hopes that a local company might step in to help support his training programme and he'll need the support of the commercial sector if he is to have any chance of competing for honours in future.
Anyone interested in supporting the local athlete on the road to gold should contact Helen Lockley of Rossall School on 01253 774278 or email: email@example.com .