A teenage boxer with aspirations to become an Olympic medal winner has been selected for a national scheme which fast-tracks the development of elite sporting talent.

Gateshead College student Brodie Stephenson is now enrolled on the England Boxing Talent Pathway Programme, which helps budding boxers to fulfil their potential and eventually compete on the national stage.

The Carlisle-born 16-year-old, who last year won a championship title in the National Association Girls and Boys Club Finals, is currently studying for an Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) at Gateshead College and working towards qualifying as a personal trainer. She is aiming to use her skills and talent to become a physical training instructor in the RAF, where she also hopes to sign up to the RAF boxing team.

It’s a stunning turnaround of fortunes for Brodie, who only got into boxing after collapsing during a running race aged 11.

She said: “The medics thought it was a heart problem but it was my breathing. I had intensive physio and after a period of rest I started boxing to build up my fitness again.

“I’d heard about the AASE course at Gateshead College and I signed up for it, even though it means travelling from Carlisle to the North East every Monday morning.

“The college is the only one in the North East to run the AASE boxing course and it has enabled me to gain a range of vital skills, not just boxing tactics and techniques but also knowledge of health issues, nutrition, sports psychology and general strength and conditioning.”

The course has provided opportunities for Brodie to attend training camps and competitions all over the country. After winning several bouts across the north of England, she was crowned winner of the National Association Boys’ and Girls’ Club Final in the 66kg weight category in December last year.

On the national talent pathway, she will be taught by top England coaches and train at Sheffield’s high-performance English Institute of Sport – a training base for world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua – as she aims to make it as a world-class athlete. She will also continue to pursue a coaching career, having become the youngest female in Britain to qualify as a level one boxing coach in 2015.

Steve Cranston, her vastly experienced boxing coach at Gateshead College, said: “Brodie has demonstrated the strong skills, aptitudes and work ethic needed to compete at the highest level in boxing. The AASE Boxing programme is supported by England Boxing and offers students the opportunity to either become an elite performer or gain the necessary skills that will enable them to forge a worthwhile career in sport. AASE is a level 3 NVQ with attached UCAS points so a really worthwhile qualification”

Brodie is the latest in a long line of sporting stars to have graduated from Gateshead College’s Academy for Sport, including senior England international Jamie Humble, now a professional boxer, and Cyrus Pattinson, who was crowned GB Elite Tri Nations Champion in 2015 and is currently full time on the GB podium squad.

The Academy for Sport provides sports development programmes for students of varying levels of ability across a wide range of disciplines, including boxing, basketball, athletics, golf, cricket, men’s football, women’s football, netball and rugby. Students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and expert guidance from experienced coaches who have been taught by top UK and international athletes.

To find out more about the Gateshead College Academy for Sport, visit  http://www.gateshead.ac.uk/academy-for-sport/.

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