By Oli Dickson Jefford
Gabrielle Holland says her maiden experiences of global competition have whetted her appetite for further international challenges that lie ahead.
Modern pentathlete Holland, 16, previously had no experience of travelling abroad for competitions, either for pentathlon or for individual fencing events.
But the East Grinstead star has thrived on the world stage this year, with a silver medal at the Junior European Championships perhaps the highlight.
And her success saw her listed as one of 10 nominees for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch award, which recognises and celebrates Britain’s brightest sporting prospects.
Holland said: “It’s been a great year, it’s the first year out of Covid so it’s been my first internationals for pentathlon because before I was too young.
🏆 ONE-TO-WATCH AWARD 🏆
It’s time to #CelebrateTheNext with a video of our top 🔟 athletes and their amazing achievements throughout 2022 🤩
The winner of this year’s One-to-Watch Award will be revealed by @xxEbobxx….she won the accolade when it was last presented in 2019 👏 pic.twitter.com/tJM0KkptKO
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 17, 2022
“We went to Euros at the beginning of summer and that completely surpassed all my expectations of what it was going to be, because it was fencing first and I completely fenced the fence of a lifetime and it just gave me a glimmer of hope.
“I ended up coming second there and then the World Championships at the beginning of term was great as well. They were both experiences that I’ve never had before and they were both really great. They were great to train for targets and I really enjoyed them both.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I feel really lucky to be able to do it. Because of Covid it makes it much more special and you really appreciate it a lot more.”
SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain since its launch in 2006.
#Previous winners, including Tom Daley OBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee MBE, have already amassed over 50 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.
📸 PHOTO ALBUM 📸
A big thank you to the SportsAid athletes, ambassadors, partners and supporters who helped bring #CelebrateTheNext to life yesterday. The charity is proud to be shining a spotlight on Britain's most talented young sports stars!
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— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 18, 2022
And Holland herself wants to follow in those incredibly successful footsteps, with a future place at the Olympic Games her main goal as she rises up the junior rankings.
She added: “From the past few weeks, I have recently got the qualification standards for Euros and Worlds for fencing - fingers crossed I will get the selection for that!
“Rankings for the pentathlon season start at Christmas. I’m in the U19s this year, so I’m hoping to do Euros and Worlds for that.
“I’m hopefully going to Bath University for the National Training Centre and training full-time there and there's a load of World Cups for pentathlon, and hopefully I’ll go to them, but the Olympics is the ultimate dream.”
SportsAid’s Celebrate the Next event, kindly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, was hosted at Sea Containers House in London thanks to Hogarth Worldwide. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk to find out more.