Wild water racer Olivia Churchill has admitted she must give up her first love to bid for a place at the 2012 Olympics.

The 18-year-old Southfields engineering student was named sports person of the year at the 11th Wandsworth Sports awards for claiming three medals at the Junior World Wild Water Racing Championships last year.

Churchill, who won gold and two bronze medals at the championships, will switch to flat water racing this summer because her chosen discipline is not an Olympic sport.

She shares the same Kingston training facilities as Wimbledon-based six time world kayak champion Anna Hemmings.

And the Univerity of Surrey student, who took up canoeing as a nine-year-old, says Hemmings, the BBC London sports personality of the year. could be the inspiration to make her Olympic dream come true.

"My long-term goal has always been to get to the Olympics and because of that I have decided to transfer to flat water sprinting," she said.

"To do that I have been training at the Royal Canoe Club in Kingston, where Anna has trained a few times.

"She is an inspiration - it is fantastic to know that someone can go as fast as her.

"To know it is possible gives you motivation to do better."

Churchill took up canoeing after giving a Wandsworth Borough Council-run Water Sports Coure on Wimbledon Park lake a go.

"I wasn't a fan of the sailing. I couldn't get on a windsurfing board so I gave the canoe a go," she added.

She beat off competition from Fulham Football Club 17-year-old Premier League debutant Matthew Briggs and gymnast Jenna Waters to claim the Wandsworth accolade.

Churchill admits it was a complete surprise to land first prize, which is accompanied by a grant for her training "I was expecting someone else to get it," she said.

"It was fantastic to get it. I was so nervous I was shaking."


David Burns award (outstanding individual performance at 2007 London Youth Games): Amelia Richards (athletics & tag rugby)John W E Davis award (outstanding team performance at the 2007 London Youth Games: Wandsworth girls' volleyball teamDeveloping community sport Award: Junior Schools Football ChallengeMayor's award (for achievement, commitment and dedication within disability sport): Oak Lodge School Sportshall Athletics TeamVoluntary Services to Sport: Tom Blake (Rosslyn Park mini rugby club), Sarah Cannell (Leander Swimming Club), Greg Crutwell (Balham Blazers Football Club), Bob Harding (Wandsworth Special Olympics), Sam McKenzie (Graveney School and Fit 4 Kids), Rev Tim Marwood (Putney Primary School Sports Association), Mel Simmons (Battersea Cains Amateur Boxing Club), Jane Walters (Westside Ladies Football Club), Roy Wiltshire (Graveney Day Care Centre), Pat Yeates (Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club).Sonny Storrie young volunteer of the year (for U25s): Bleu Widely (football)Coach of the year: Marina Pollara (swimming).Team of the year (U11): Wandsworth District Schools football teamTeam of the year (U18): Burntwood School cheerleading squadJunior sports person of the year (U13): Winner: Taj Johnson (athletics). runner-up: Taherah Grant (athletics)