IT was thought Clitheroe’s Connor Byrne may never walk up a hill again.
But now he is aiming to climb to the top of his sport, having been selected to represent Great Britain.
The 16-year-old has been named in the squad for the European Youth Climbing Championship in France in November.
And with the sport to potentially be included in the Olympic Games from 2020, he is in pole position to build on the Ribble Valley’s heroics at London 2012.
Connor, who is leaving Bowland High School to take A-levels at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, is the reigning British youth lead climbing champion, winning at Ratho, Edinburgh, and his determination to get where he has so far will serve him well.
He has recovered from a broken leg, suffered falling down the stairs at home six years ago in Waddington Fell – a complicated injury which ruled him out for two years after shards of bone damaged tendons and muscles.
Connor said: “I fractured my fibia, which went undetected for three months and resulted in 12 months of inactivity.
“I resumed climbing at Christmas 2007, and settled down to some dedicated hard work, and by the spring of 2009, I was back on the North West team for the British Mountaineering Council Youth Climbing Series, and off to the national final as I was now fully recovered from the leg injury.”
He started climbing at Roefield, aged eight, and participated in his first competition in 2006, the British Youth Climbing regionals, achieving a place in the North West team and entry into the national finals of the British Youth Climbing Series, coming 12th against more experienced competitors.
In 2011, he achieved a place on the GB Climbing team, and took part in his first international competitions, at home and abroad, in Slovenia, and won the British Lead Climbing Championship, and the Welsh Climbing Championship.
This year, he finished 19th in the European Youth Cup in Edinburgh, and second in the BMC National Youth Open.
Now Connor will compete for GB in France, and he hopes to raise awareness and sponsorship for his sport.
He said: “I am totally self-funded.
“Climbing at an elite level gets very little funding as it is not an Olympic event, so to compete for my country, my parents pay all the bills, including entrance fees.
“We have to travel vast distances to good training venues, probably 10 hours a week, and then put in about 14 hours training per week.”
Anyone wishing to help Connor with sponsorship, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org