Helen Leigh, former student of Flixton Girls School, has received a once in a lifetime opportunity to study in America on a scholarship and be a part of the rowing squad.
Helen was spotted at the British Rowing Skulling Festival by a coach from the University of Tulsa who asked her to fly over to visit the campus and meet the coaching team.
The Salford City College student flew to Tulsa for the weekend in March and was officially offered a place after the coaching staff met her in person. When Helen begins University in America, she will share a dorm with another rower from Canada and will train twice a day, often getting in the water by 6am.
The 18 year old studied BTEC Public Services at Salford City College will now go on to study Sport and Exercise Science for 4 years at the University of Tulsa.
In order to meet the requirements of the offer, Helen took the American SATs, (Scholastic Aptitude Test) an English and Maths comprehensive test and passed with support from Mark Leech, a Maths tutor at Salford City College.
Helen, who is a member from Agecroft Rowing Club, has only been rowing for two and a half years after hearing an inspirational talk from Olympian Katherine Grainger, and decided to google where her nearest rowing club was.
Helen said, “I was once told by somebody that I was too short to be a good rower so that just shows if you want something and you work for it then you can achieve it.” Her advice to other young people who are thinking about taking up a new sport is, “Try something new and enjoy it and if you don’t then at least you gave it a go – you never know what opportunities it will bring” She also added, “This has motivated me even more as the coaches over in the USA are still watching my competitions, I recently competed and came 3rd at Junior British Championships and then went onto represent England at the home internationals in Cardiff”.
In June, Salford City College held the end of year annual awards at The Lowry and Helen won Sport and Uniformed Services Student of the Year which was presented to her by Olympian and Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Craig Heap.
Helen has left Salford City College with a Distinction* which is the highest honour, and exciting prospects ahead! Everyone at the College wishes Helen the best of luck in the USA!