Sporting stars win golden grades

THE PEN may be mightier than the sword but Yorkshire student Abbi Matthews has proved she is a success with both as the fencing champion celebrating picking up three straight As.

The 18-year-old discovered she had achieved As in her chemistry, biology, and maths A-levels at the independent Mount School, in York, yesterday, to secure a place at Bath University to study biology.

She was among a number of students across Yorkshire for whom results day marked the success of balancing their studies with their commitments to sporting excellence.

Abbi, who lives near Selby, has been fencing since she was 13-years-old and has competed in the junior Commonwealth championships where she won a individual silver medal and a team gold medal in 2006.

She practices twice a week and regularly takes part in international competition with travel overseas.

She said: "It feels amazing to get these results. In chemistry I thought I'd get a B or a C. I cried when I opened them."

Another York student who has celebrated both academic and sporting success is Rebecca Sparling at St Peters School who picked up three Bs in yesterday's results and has also secured a place on the British rowing team just 18 months after taking up the sport.

The 18-year-old from Filey said: "I would never have been able to fit everything in if I hadn't been a boarder.

"The river is at the end of the school grounds so it's as easy as it can be to train and get time in the gym or on the water."

She picked up Bs in French, history and Spanish and she is planning to go onto university to study French, Chinese and Spanish at Durham or Newcastle.

Another sporting star at St Peter's School is Yorkshire cricketer Jonathan Bairstow. The 18-year-old who was named Young Wisden School Cricketer of the Year for 2008 picked up three Cs and is going on to study sports science at Leeds University.

A promising triathlete and medal hopeful for the 2012 Olympics was also celebrating yesterday after achieving top A-level grades which included one exam he sat in Canada while taking part in the junior World Championships.

Jonathan Brownlee, 18, a pupil at Bradford Grammar School, discovered he had achieved A grades in chemistry, history and biology and a B in Spanishbefore jumping onto a plane to Beijing to join up with the British Olympic team.

The teenager is a member of the GB elite programme for triathlon and sat his history exam while competing as a junior in the World Triathlon Championships, in Vancouver, in June, where he picked up a bronze medal.

To allow the student from Horsforth to do both the exam and the race, his school had to seek permission from the exam board for him to sit the paper at a college classroom in Vancouver and ensure he had no contact from home as time differences across the Atlantic meant he sat the exam after his classmates back in Bradford.