Hastings ace earns England call-up

A Hastings Seagull water polo talent has been called-up to the England under-19 squad.

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James Blything with his most valuable player trophy at the tournament in Hungary.James Blything with his most valuable player trophy at the tournament in Hungary.
James Blything with his most valuable player trophy at the tournament in Hungary.

James Blything joins 14 other players from clubs as far afield as Welsh Wanderers and Dunfermline in the 2016/17 under-19 men’s national squad.

Ever since he joined the mini-polo group at Hastings Seagull Swimming Club, coached by Dave Lee, aged nine, James has wanted to be a water polo star.

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Now, after eight years of regular training and climbing from being the club’s junior to senior goalkeeper, he has had his efforts rewarded. At the age of 17, he has achieved his goal.

James recently returned from a major international tournament in Hungary, where he played for the Crystal Palace Regional Training Centre (RTC) team against crack teams from the USA, Hungary, Denmark and Israel. He was named ‘most valuable player of the tournament’ for his team, which took the bronze medal.

Over the last 15 weeks, James has endured a punishing regime of training at three-day weekend camps and games at venues all over the UK as a valued member of the group from which the squad has been chosen to represent England in the next round of international competition.

He has come out of this with flying colours and his dad, Scott, who has driven him thousands of miles to swimming pools from Sheffield to Plymouth, deserves a huge pat on the back for his unwavering support of James’s dedication.

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Supporting this effort at the RTC has been two of James’s Hastings peers, Ben Chegwin and Adam Pearson.

Aged 16, they have been through much of the same training and now play on a regular basis alongside James with the main senior team in Hastings. Both of these budding stars have played with James for Sussex at under-17 and under-19 levels.

For more information about the Hastings Seagull water polo section, visit www.hastingsseagullsc.org.uk/waterpolo

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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