Sports-mad teenager is thrilled to carry torch
A 13-YEAR-OLD from Padstow who was born premature and weighing just 2lb has been selected to be an Olympic Torchbearer in recognition of her sporting success.
Jenni Buckley was nominated by her mother's partner, Jel Barker, who said: "I nominated Jenni for her commitment and dedication to sport. She eats, drinks and lives for it, especially football. Since the age of nine I have seen her give up the things she should be doing; sleepovers, going out with school mates and parties. Instead she would rather be training."
Jenni was born at 26 weeks and spent the first three months of her life in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske.
Friends and family think this may be where her fighting spirit started.
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From an early age she was encouraged to take part in sport by her parents.
"I joined a dance school and I started tae-kwon-do lessons," said Jenni. "I also enjoyed swimming and won all my races at junior school. But my real passion is for football, and at the age of 6 I pestered my mum to join Padstow United Youth Football Club.
Jenni swiftly proved herself. In the three years she was with the club she won the most improved girl twice, the individual points challenge, the players' player of the year as well as the highest achiever award.
Later she was selected for Cornwall Centre of Excellence and during the next four years she played against county teams all over the south of England, and also teams from Arsenal, Wolves and Plymouth Argyle.
Since starting secondary school she has also represented her school at district level in athletics, participating in sprinting, hurdles, relay and high-jump.
The excited teenager says she is delighted to have been picked to be part of the Olympic Torch Relay.
"I can't wait to get my hands on the torch," said Jenni. "I think I am the only person running from Padstow, and it will be my thank you to all the people that helped me start to play football."
Ultimately, Jenni hopes to be able to get a professional placement and play football for a living.
Jenni's mum, Jean, said: "I am delighted and proud that Jenni has been successful in carrying the torch, and I know she will make the most of this memorable day, for herself, her family and the people of Padstow. This reward represents a lot of hard work over the last seven years."