A Wroughton teenager has her sights set on the big time – and needs the help of the Swindon public to make it to the pinnacle of sport.

Ayla Tonkin, 17, has been hand-picked as a potential Winter Olympian in biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.

After achieving success in a number of sports, she fell in love with the winter discipline after attending a camp designed to find future stars. 

The Ridgeway School student is now in the process of balancing her A-level studies with training in preparation for the British Championships in January but has launched a Crowdfunder page to help her compete with the sport attracting little in the way of sponsorship.

“It’s quite strange training and going to school,” she said. “It’s two very different worlds. I still have to go to school and I need to prioritise that when I’m there, but afterwards it’s training.

“I’m just a bit of an endorphin junkie, the thrill of sport, the weird pleasure of seeing how far you can push yourself and the feeling when you finish. I like winning – very competitive.

“It’s been very strange going to the biathlon from my previous sports, especially with the shooting and that is so different.

"Skiing is actually more like cycling than you might think. 

“I went to my first shooting session and I was surprised at how good I was as I’d never done it before.”

Ayla also found a unique way to overcome the challenge of training for a winter support in a country that sees so little snow. 

She said: “That is a massive challenge with the skiing element and having no snow in England is a big factor, so we have to roller-ski. They’re like skis but a bit shorter with wheels on the bottom.

“The thing is with those is that you need quite a flat surface – wide with a decent enough distance.”

Ayla is hoping to raise £5,000 which will go towards two training camps and the purchase of a gun for the event ahead of the British Championships, which costs £3,000. 

She is aiming to compete at the Winter Olympics in Milan in 2026.

“That would just be the best thing ever,” she said.

“I think for most athletes it’s sort of a utopian dream, in order to actually be able to go to the biggest sporting championships that there is. That’s just the ultimate goal.”