MARTIAL arts ace Sarah Bainbridge is the toast of the Fylde, after becoming the first Olympian from this area for 20 years.
The Fleetwood girl is in the four-strong tae-kwon-do team to compete at Athens in August – following swimmer Debra Gore to the pinnacle of international sport. Gore, also from Fleetwood, competed in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
And 21-year-old student Sarah, who attends Loughborough University, has her sights set on striking gold and winning Britain's second medal since the sport made its competitive Olympics debut at Barcelona in 1992, when GB picked up the bronze.
The news she was longing to hear came yesterday from performance director Gary Hall, after Sarah and her three colleagues – one woman and two men – were told to travel to London.
All four had qualified in Azerbaijan in February and Sarah will fight in the -67 kilos welterweight class.
"It's got to be gold I'm going for. There are only 16 in each weight and I've fought most of the girls, so I think I'm up there with a chance," said Sarah, who belongs to the Fleetwood Tae-kwon-do Club run by her dad Alan at Fleetwood Nautical College.
"If I haven't beaten them I've run them pretty close. The one or two outstanding ones are from Korea and China."
Sarah must win three fights to reach the final, in which the six losers go into a play-off for the bronze.
Preparation for Sarah doesn't pose a problem because the squad is based at Loughborough.
The build-up brings training camps in Spain, Korea and Mexico but before that is the European Champions in Norway at the start of next month.
"That will be a test for the four of us. The chances are we will fight people who will be at the Olympics," added Sarah.