GABRIELLE Fa’amausili is one step closer to her goal of the Rio Olympics after receiving the only gold scholarship in the Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation Awards.
The 14-year-old swimmer will be awarded $5000 in funding at an awards evening tonight.
It will help her with expenses as she tries to qualify for world and junior world championships next year.
‘‘I’m really grateful. It’s going to help a lot, especially with expenses for going overseas,’’ she says.
The Avondale College student has been swimming since she was 3 and competing from the age of 9.
‘‘At four, I had a drowning accident during lessons,’’ she says.
‘‘I went under and my mum had to bring me out and I didn’t get back in till I was 6.’’ The New Windsor teen’s biggest achievement came last year, when she broke the junior world record in the 50 metre women’s backstroke and competed in the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Dubai.
Gabrielle represented New Zealand at this year’s Youth Olympics in China, where she carried the national flag during the opening ceremony.
She is currently the New Zealand No 1 in the junior age group.
Gabrielle wants to be a professional swimmer and has a long-term goal of representing New Zealand at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
‘‘I guess it’s just a learning step until then.
‘‘Heaps of training in and out of the water and just being passionate about swimming.’’ The Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation was established in 1997 by leaders of the West Auckland community with the aim of providing scholarships and other forms of support for pre-elite Waitakere athletes.
Cyclist Dion Smith received a scholarship in 2010 and 2011 and Commonwealth champion swimmer Lauren Boyle also received awards in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Gabrielle says she admires shot put champion Valerie Adams for her inspiration to Pacific Islanders.