A Team England beach volleyball player from North Devon is hoping to pursue her dream of competing in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Lauren Huggins, from Ilfracombe, was at the official unveiling of the Smithfield site in Birmingham where the beach volleyball arena will be created.
The 20-year-old is an up-and-coming player who already has a host of junior honours to her name and has been playing since she was 14.
Lauren is currently a beach volleyball scholar at Houston Baptist University in America and is partnered for Team England with Vicky Palmer, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Lauren, who attended Braunton School, began her indoor volleyball career at an after school club run by North Devon volleyball legend and pioneer Denise Austin.
The team she joined went on to win back-to-back national junior finals and she played for England juniors, as well as three years playing beach volleyball for England juniors.
Now in the senior ranks, she told the Gazette she dreamed of making the Commonwealth Games and she and Vicky were pushing every day for qualification.
She said: “I can’t even put into words how excited I am. For Birmingham to be hosting and to have the opportunity to play in front of all the people that made it possible for me be here, it would be a once in a lifetime experience.”
She said the Smithfield site in Birmingham already felt electric and could not imagine how incredible the atmosphere would be with thousands of spectators there.
Lauren hopes to qualify for the U22 European Games and go on to compete in the next three commonwealth Games if possible, as well as at Olympic Games following Tokyo.
She added: “Being on a scholarship for beach volleyball is amazing and I am so thankful to the people that helped me get there, and so I would love to make them proud and win a conference championship for them.
“I would also like to push to be ranked in the top 20 colleges in the USA, we were so close last year taking down the number nine ranked team. But unfortunately, circumstances got in the way!
“If there’s anyone reading this who would like information on beach volleyball, or going to play sports at college in America please reach out! I am easiest to find via Instagram at laurenhuggins_x_ I would love to be able to help answer any questions you may have.”