Equestrian rider Jake Saywell insists he is determined to do his family name proud at this month’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
For a long time it looked like Saywell might turn his back on the family business of equestrian, having been a keen rugby player and a member of the Leicester Tigers Academy until the age of 15.
However, with his grandfather Mike having competed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, his aunt Louise a rising star and parents who both competed at a high level, the 18-year-old’s calling eventually caught up with him.
He was late to start in the sport – taking it up aged 12 – but now he is gearing up for the biggest moment of his fledgling career.
Saywell has been selected for Team GB’s 33-strong squad out in Nanjing, China, to compete in the Youth Olympic Games which gets underway on August 16.
And the teenager says he is ready to finally take on the family mantel.
“I only found out that I’d made the squad a few weeks ago when I got a phone call and was told,” he said.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be honest because there are a lot of good riders in England who could have been picked.
“But it’s a fantastic feeling to be going to the Games and representing my country.
“I rang my parents and told them and they were really happy; they have been so supportive of me that it was nice to be able to give something back to them.”
Saywell now divides his time between Southwell and the Netherlands, where he trains for months at a time.
It is something that he believes has benefitted him no end, but he still credits the wealth of experience he can tap into as the primary reason for his rise.
“When I did get started it was probably a bit easier because it was something that was around the home and I had great minds to tap into,” he added.
“I pick my family’s minds about everything because they have so much knowledge and experience which means it’s hard to go wrong.
“My grandfather competed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich so to be going to the Youth Olympic Games now is really special and something he’s very proud of.
“And my auntie Louise competed in the Youth Olympics as well so I’ve definitely got a wealth of experience to draw on.
“I think it will be an eye-opener for me and I will get the chance to see how the Olympics work.
“It can definitely serve as a stepping stone for me and while I don’t think I will be in Rio in two years I hope to go to the Olympics one day.”
© Sportsbeat 2014