When 21-year-old Joe Dunderdale took up athletics aged just six, he never thought that one day he would have been chosen to represent his country at the Commonwealth Games.
But now javelin thrower Joe, who trains at the English Institute of Sport - Sheffield, has achieved just that - and will travel to Glasgow with the likes of Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford when the Games begin on July 23.
Joe, originally from a small village just outside Lincoln, began taking part in the decathlon as a youngster and, as he progressed, he started to show real promise in the javelin.
And it was winning the English School Championships aged 16 that Joe saw as a turning point in his career, and he decided to dedicate himself to progressing further in his chosen sport.
He soon began training at EIS Sheffield where his coach at the time was based, and immediately benefitted from the state-of-the-art strengthening and conditioning equipment, as well as training alongside Olympic Champion, Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Joe, who has just finished a sports and exercise science degree at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “I was overwhelmed when I was told I had been selected for the Commonwealth Games. I don’t think I could stop smiling!
“It’s going to be a privilege to compete in front of such a huge crowd - something I have never done before.”
Joe is now busy working with his coach, former Commonwealth and Olympic javelin thrower Mick Hill, to prepare for his debut and will follow an intensive training programme in the run up to the competition. Joe, who now trains at the EIS six times a week, said: “Before coming to Sheffield I did a lot of training but I just didn’t have access to the kind of facilities that there are here.
“It’s amazing to be able to train alongside elite athletes like Jessica as well. She is a role model for so many people, including myself, and she has been fantastic in giving me advice about life as an athlete on and off the track.
“Without EIS I wouldn’t be where I am now. The venue is world-class and I’m incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to benefit from it so much.”
Joe is now also passing his knowledge on to the next generation of athletes after taking on a javelin coaching role at EIS, where he works with youngsters aged between five and 11 years old.
He coaches children who are enrolled on SIV’s Athletics Academy and the Summer Camps, which allow youngsters to try a range of athletics disciplines. Joe delivers masterclasses, which will help youngsters to learn new skills, develop their technique and increase their confidence.
Joe, who is also looking for sponsorship ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympic Games.
To find out more about how to get involved in the Athletics Academy or the Summer Camps, visit: http://www.eis-sheffield.co.uk.