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SCHOOL STARS WIN NATIONAL SQUAD CALL?UPS; Swimmer, basketballer and footballer at the top of their games.

Byline: Sam Dimmer

A TRIO of sporty pupils at one Coventry school have scored call ups to their national squads.

Swimmer Jemma Hancox, 16, footballer Sallum Ali, 17, and basketballer Callum Lawson, 15, are the toast of Grace Academy after earning the accolades - with each one now setting their sights on reaching the top of their sport.

Headteacher of the Woodway Park academy, Steve Allen, said s the callups were testament to each pupil's hard work.

"We're delighted for them," he said. "They are each very special and they have worked incredibly hard to get to where they have.

"The reason they've been so successful is their dedication. Many of them practice early in the morning and late at night. One of the things we tell our students is that the harder they work the luckier they get.

"They have worked hard and deserve their success. The whole of Coventry should be proud of them."

Walsgrave's Jemma Hancox was the first of the three to win international honours.

Last year the City of Coventry Swimming Club member was called up to travel to Bahrain for the International Children's Games.

She got personal bests in two events and competed in the girls 4x100m team that came seventh.

Now Jemma is determined to keep improving so that she is in with a fighting chance of competing at the 2016 Olympics.

Next up to win an international call up was Callum Lawson, also of Walsgrave.

The forward, who plays for the Birmingham As, is part of the 16-man training squad that will eventually travel to Italy to take part in the U16s European championships. He hadn't played basketball before starting at Grace Academy but now the 6ft 3in teenager wants to win a scholarship to play in the USA.

Every morning he arrives at 7am to train at the school.

The last student to win a call-up was footballer Sallum Ali, 17, who has trained with England U18s.

Sixth form pupil Sallum, from Henley Green, used to play for Coventry City's academy but left to join Watford. Now the right-back is looking to earn a professional contract with a club.

He said: "I went to the training camp a couple of weeks ago. It was a really great experience. I met lads from lots of different clubs. A few were a bit older so for me it was a great test of my abilities.

"This is my last year before I take up a professional contract so now I'm working towards that."

Sallum's first game could be against Scotland next year.


HIGH ACHIEVERS: Callum Lawson (left), Sallum Ali and Jemma Hancox
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 19, 2011
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