CLITHEROE’S Connor Byrne has been selected for the third year running to be a member of the GB junior lead climbing team.
This honour only goes to the very best young climbers, who are expected to come within the top 20 places at European Youth competitions over the coming year.
Only a very small number of climbers make the grade for the team; the selection for the 2013 team has only 16 individuals, aged between 15 and 19, including both males and females, and spanning four competition age groups.
Last year Connor came 17th and 12th at two major European competitions, in France and Slovenia, and was the top GB boy in his age group at these events.
Indoor climbing is becoming increasingly popular, though there is very little in the way of funding for competitors in the national team, for a sport which hopes to be welcomed into the Olympics for 2020.
Team members train within their regions, at their own expense, often on their own and only coming together for competitions.
Unlike many sports there is no centre of excellence which offers schooling alongside elite climbing coaching, a luxury the European teams have.
Many climbing walls allow team members free entry to their venues for training, which is a massive help, and Connor receives free kit from Beyond Hope, suppliers of climbing equipment and clothing.
He has also had support from Ribble Valley Borough Council, Lancashire Playing Fields Association and Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, without which the cost of travel and training would have been very difficult to cover.
Connor is currently studying A Level maths, physics, chemistry and computing at CRGS, combining his studies with training in preparation for the team selection event in March, which will determine competitors to travel to the first Internationals of 2013.