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Joe's Olympic dream burns bright

Yorkshire’s Joe Pagdin has described competing in the Youth Olympics as “the experience of a lifetime”.

Pagdin, who was born in Sheffield but now resides in Lake Nona, Florida, and Essex’s Lily May Humphreys, represented Team GB in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

They didn’t figure in the medals, but both had the experience of a lifetime, competing in individual and team events.

Humphreys, 16, from Stoke by Nayland Golf Club in Essex, is one of England’s youngest ever Curtis Cup players and is a multiple winner. This year she became the Scottish women’s open amateur champion and last year she won English, British and European titles and also had her first victory in the USA.

Pagdin, 16, a semi-finalist at the British Boys’ Championship, was in England’s winning teams at the Boys’ Home Internationals of 2017 and 2018 and helped GB&I beat continental Europe to win the Jacques Leglise Trophy.

He said: “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my career and living in this village for the last two weeks is an amazing opportunity.

“It’s definitely a big learning curve being here with all the different athletes from the different countries. You learn a huge amount about sport, languages, cultures as well as what an Olympics is like.

“I feel like anyone who competes at these Games, and whether you compete badly or well, it’s an experience that you won’t forget, and I really enjoyed my time here. This has taught me a lot being out here I hope that can help me get to the next level.

“Unfortunately, the golf wasn’t the greatest for me. This field has been really strong. There are five or six kids ranked in the top 100 in the world in this event and it was highly ranked. Compared to a lot of international events I play this was right up there in terms of the strength of the competition.

“I compete with a lot of these guys on a weekly basis. We’re always beating each other each week and it’s just who can get an edge at any event.

“I think golf had a real place at an Olympic Games. It’s an individual sport but at the Games they can make more of a team event. I think golf has a real future in the Games. You look at how well it was supported in Rio and also here in Argentina.

“I’m just finishing up High School now and I’ve committed to the University of Florida for golf, so I’ll be going there in 2020 for four years. I’m still taking it one day at a time and working out my game but the overall goal is to become a professional golfer.

“To be part of the senior Olympics would be a dream come true. To compete at that level and be an Olympian not only means you’re a good golfer, but you’ve achieved a lot in your career. That’s obviously some way off in my career but it would be a cool story to compete in the Youth Olympics and then the senior Olympics. Watching Justin Rose win it was a motivational moment for a lot of people and I know a lot of the other players really embraced it. I started played golf was I was about eight, growing up in the US but I am originally from Sheffield where we still have a lot of family.

“I met Ian Poulter in a sandwich shop and started talking to him when I was seven in 2006. After that I just wanted to become a golfer and now we live in the same area and our families are great friends. He’s my idol and supports me with my game.”

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