By Scott Mills
As the sun begins to rise over the frost-covered hills on the east side of Richmond Park, a calm and relaxing nostalgia fills the morning misty air on this cold but crisp Saturday morning.
It is 7.30am and there is only one or two deer to be seen but not a sound to be heard.
That is until a figure of luminous yellow emerges from the distance, closely followed by a white Ford Fiesta.
“Push harder and remember to use long arms!” bellows a voice from the window of the car which finally breaks the silent atmosphere.
It is the voice of the Weir Archer Academy’s Jenny Archer MBE, who is keeping a close eye on one of her junior athletes who have just started their training session.
However, not far behind is one of the Academy’s most exciting prospects training alongside Great Britain’s Mo Jomni.
Wearing a bright orange training shirt, Jamie Edwards has made the trip up all the way from Somerset with one goal in mind and that is to become the best.
Whilst talking to the T33 racer, he comes across as very nice and extremely friendly but don’t let that fool you.
Once he is in his racing chair he knows what he wants and he is determined to get it.
“I want to be at the World Championships,” Edwards says with a steely determined look in his eye, not even batting an eyelid.
“I want be the best internationally classed racer in my category and compete at the World Championships.”
Judging by how well the 17 year-olds racing went last season, his ambitions look very promising.
Starting the 2016 campaign ranked as the 4th best T33 100m sprinter in the country to finishing it as the 2nd best is only one of the remarkable achievements that this athlete managed to conquer.
Beating many personal bests along the way, Edwards also managed to claim three gold medals representing GB in the 1,500m, 400m and 100m races at the annual Paralympic School Games held in Brazil, something that brings a smile to the youngsters face as soon as it is mentioned.
“For me that was one of the most amazing experiences in my career so far,” Edwards states.
“It was simply unbelievable as we were representing Great Britain, travelling to a different country to compete against some of the best junior athletes in the world.
“But for me, although it was amazing and felt like the Paralympics, the best moment of my career so far has to be becoming the second best 100m sprinter in the UK in my classification.
“That has probably got to be the best so far, especially considering I was only 16 when I done it.”
Having only just missed out on this year’s Paralympics in Rio where he got the T33 100m qualifying time just after the selection period closed, the future is looking incredibly bright for the Somerset-based athlete.
Off of the track when he is not racing, Edwards enjoys learning how to create websites and is currently studying a diploma in IT which is another one of this incredibly bright and hard-working athlete’s passions.
But after being accepted into the Advanced Apprenticeship of Sporting Excellence programme by British Athletics, the aspiring Paralympian will need to find a balance between his studies, training and travelling up to Loughborough, something he is extremely excited about.
“Obviously, I am a bit nervous but at the same time I am really excited,” Edwards explains.
“With the programme focusing on educating us more on aspects such as how to eat and act as an athlete, I definitely feel this will help me with both my physical and my mental training.
“I just feel it is a great way at knowing how I can improve my performance and become a better athlete.”
And the Advanced Apprenticeship of Sporting Excellence isn’t the only thing that has recently came to Edwards as a reward for all of his hard work.
The 17 year-old also recently won the Male Sports Achiever of the Year award at the Somerset Sports Partnership Awards ceremony in October.
Whilst Edwards believes that receiving this type of recognition for all of the hard-work he puts into the sport he loves gives him even more motivation to train harder, there is still one dream he has on his mind that goes beyond that of the up and coming season.
“I have definitely got my eye on Tokyo in 2020 and I am considering maybe a podium finish in the London Marathon in the long term.
“I want to see if I can be the first T33 athlete to get a podium place in the London Marathon and whilst it will probably take everything out of me, I am definitely up for it.”