A 16-year-old hammer thrower from the Swindon Harriers has been selected to join the England Athletics Youth Talent Programme.

Billy Dickinson, 16, has been with the Harriers for ten years and after showing great form during this season, is one of a select group of athletes to have been chosen to be part of the programme designed to help support and develop young athletes.

Almost 500 athletes aged 16 and over applied to be part of the programme and Dickinson is one of a talented group to be selected after improving his personal best distance from 46.65m in 2022 to 54.85m this summer.

Swindon Advertiser: Billy Dickinson in action in the summerBilly Dickinson in action in the summer (Image: Swindon Harriers)

Dickinson said: “I didn’t think I would get in as only 220 applicants were successful, so I was delighted to be picked.

“I had to apply myself and explain why I thought being selected would be beneficial for me – and it was a very long survey!

“I was going really well up until July but then I got quite ill with a virus that hit me pretty badly, it really did come at the wrong time for me but I’m feeling a lot better now and looking forward to training hard over the winter ready for next year.”

As part of the programme, Dickinson will be able to spend ten training days at Loughborough University working alongside top coaches, as well as receiving lectures on core parts of being an athlete like nutrition, injury prevention, mental skills and much more. At the end, he will also receive a Level 3 Diploma in Sporting Excellence.

England Athletics has designed the talent pathway to be tailored to assist with the specific developmental, educational, and employability needs of the athletes and para-athletes to help them reach their full potential, both inside and outside of the sport.

Alan Richardson, Youth Talent Programme Manager at England Athletics, said in a statement: “The Youth Talent Programme is the starting point of the England Athletics Talent Pathway and a big congratulations to all those athletes and coaches who have been selected to the programme this year.

“Each year the programme grows in strength and is a great opportunity for the development of skills in the technical, physical, and lifestyle areas that will support their journey throughout the pathway.

“We know that the athletes at this stage of development require support for athlete, coach, and parents and the Youth Talent Programme aims to support all three components of the support network.”