Congratulations to Year 11 student, Ben Hardwick, on his invitation to become an Olympic Development Apprentice.

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Ben started cycling when he was 9 years old, with Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club. Over the years, as well as being Club Champion at each age category, he has competed at regional and then at national level, winning several podium positions, both on road and track. In 2013, he placed first in a National Omnium Series scratch race. During 2013, he was also nominated by his club coach to attend the Regional School of Racing Programme, run by British Cycling at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, which involves training and development for the best young cyclists in the country. Ben will continue to attend these sessions on a 6-weekly basis until he is 16.

Ben’s achievements continued into 2014 when he was selected by his regional coaches as one of 4 under 16 boys to represent the West Midlands Region (incorporating Shropshire, Staffordshire, Hereford and Worcestershire and West Midlands Counties), in the 2014 UK School Games. Held in September, this is a prestigious annual event which invites talented under-16 children from all over the country to compete in several sports including swimming, track and field, gymnastics, judo, volleyball, badminton, and cycling. Many of the competitors in this event go on to become top professional athletes within their own field, and Ben was one of only 3 other children from Wolverhampton Schools to be selected for this event – a great achievement. Ben’s team competed well and finished 4th in the overall UK rankings.

Following the School Games, Ben has more recently been identified as a ‘potential world class athlete’, in his invitation to become an Olympic Development Apprentice. Again run by British Cycling, this is an intense programme of hard physical training, skills development, and mental preparation, hoping to identify potential athletes for the British Cycling team. Typically, Ben attends fortnightly training days in Manchester or Derby, leaving the house at 5.30am, training for 8-10 hours, and getting home at 8pm. He now also trains 6 days per week on top of his school commitments and competitive race schedule.

In addition to his cycling achievements, Ben recently became the Wolverhampton City Cross Country Champion, competing for S Peters at U16 level. Ben does not train for running (his last run previous to this event was at sports day!), so his result can only be put down to his fitness levels from his hours in the saddle! Ben also coaches swimming under 10s for a local swimming club one evening a week, to help raise funds for all his cycling equipment.

We wish Ben every success with his promising career in cycling!

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