Friday, March 1, 2013

Tia Simms-Lyma

Tia is the latest sportswoman to come out of the hugely successful stable of athletes at Plymouth College, a private co-ed school in Devon. She started with gymnastics at the age of six and went on to try diving at seven “I got scared at the three metre board” she laughed “so I decided to do something with my feet on the ground”. She’s certainly achieved that - at 13 she is now is a champion fencer specialising in Epee and all eyes are on her for the future Olympic Games.

There would be good reason to take a bet that the quiet, charming youngster will make headline news, along with the many other athletes that have come out of the extraordinarily successful Plymouth College. Over the last few years Tia has been the double British champion, came third in the “Under 15’s” in Poland; finished in the last eight in the British Cadet Championship and is now gearing up for world championships to be held in Croatia. She recently recently fenced for Jamaica, the home country of her mother’s family, when she took part in competitions in Bratislava and Gotthenburg.

Tia now represents Jamaica in Epee and is the only athlete in the country to do so. Representatives from Jamaica (which is her mother’s homeland) asked Tia to represent them in Epee. She jumped at the chance. Tia has a great chance of reaching the next Olympics. It won’t be for the want of support from her family – or from her school. Dad Andy was a semi professional cyclist and sports coach who now works with Tia to help her with fitness. “Tia works really hard, but its important to ensure that she gets as much rest and recovery as she does training and that’s part of my job” he says.

Andy Hill is Plymouth College’s Director of Pentathlon and Fencing. He’s had 30 years of training under his belt and some of the country’s finest have been helped by his expertise over the years. “Tia is doing better than anyone else I’ve ever coached at the same age” he says. “She’s very straightforward, never misses a session, works hard and isn’t temperamental. She’s a delight to work with and she is definitely Olympic material – if not in four years, definitely eight.”

Meanwhile the girl with the radiant smile looks on. “Andy is fantastic” she says. The whole school is really supportive – it’s a very happy environment. I don’t feel under pressure and find it really helpful to be amongst so many other athletes who understand what it’s like to train competitively.”  So what are the hopes and dreams of this extraordinary 13 year old? She muses. “To have enough money to have new Puma trainers every term and to meet Levi Roots – I love his food and really admire how he’s got on in life – oh, and a gold at the Olympic Games” she adds as an afterthought.

Although Tia has a fantastic future in the sport this may be potentially hampered by a lack of funds. Tia needs to travel to international competitions Jamaica. These travel costs are at present unsustainable for her family. Tia like many other athletes desperately needs sponsorship to help her achieve the next Olympics. Without sponsorship coming soon Tia may not be able to attend the world championships in Croatia on the 29th March.