INTERNATIONAL badminton player Holly Newall has been backed to the tune of £2,000 to progress her career.

The 18-year-old from Mauchline combines her NC Biomedical Sciences studies at Ayrshire College with competing at badminton events across Europe.

As well as three caps for Scotland at senior level, Holly has been selected to represent her country at the under-19 European Junior Championships this month in France.

She is now following in the footsteps of several sporting Scots, such as Gordon Reid, Robbie Renwick and Lynsey Sharp, in receiving support from Winning Students.

The programme is managed by the University of Stirling and financed by the Scottish Funding Council and strives to help sports stars succeed in their chosen field.

Holly was nominated for the scholarship by BADMINTONscotland, the national governing body for the sport.

Among her achievements to date, she holds the record as the youngest player to win a British Championship.

Holly won the under-15 tournament at the age of 12 and retained it the following year. She then won the under-17 title when she was just 15.

She said: “I think this is a really great programme. It’s helped me a lot so far with getting to competitions abroad, training costs, and getting help from a physio and food nutritionist.

“I’ve just competed in six competitions in a row.

“The latest was in Portugal where I was one of the youngest taking part. I managed to get through qualifying but unfortunately came up against the second seed and lost out in the first round.

“However I won a senior competition a few weeks ago and an Under-19 tournament before that, so my form is good.”

Balancing sport with her studies at Ayrshire College is a challenge which she takes on board by being well organised.

“I’m at college three times a week which fits in perfectly with my training schedule. I’ve always found science interesting, and I particularly liked the forensic side of Biomedical Science.

“It’s a case of so far, so good at college and I’m looking forward to progressing to HNC next year as I also continue to try improve my ranking in badminton,” Holly added.