WHEN a young girl she would leave school and hot-foot it through the streets of Caversham on her way to the River Thames, writes Dave Wright.

Now 10 years later, she has become an Olympic competitor with a chance of winning a medal.

No wonder that a thrilled Olivia Carneige-Brown revealed it is a “dream come true” after being told she is in the Great Britain rowing team to compete in Rio this summer.

The 25-year-old’s rise to fame began at Queen Anne’s School a decade ago.

“People from the talent ID programme World Class Start which has a centre at Reading Rowing Club came up to school to test us,” she said.

“We were lined up in the lunch queue and they picked out the tall people.

“We were then taken into the school gym where we had to perform tests to show our aerobic capacity.

“Our weights were also taken and we then ended up being interviewed in the second round before a small group of us were selected.

“At the time I had no interest in rowing, but I thought I would give it a go.

“So in the evening after school I used to run down through Caversham to the club for training with a group coached by Eira Parry.

“There were other groups all around the country and we would meet up every month or every other month in Nottingham where we were able to compare ourselves and meet other people.

“Everyone was on the same pathway and had the same goal – which was the Olympics.”

Her first taste of international rowing came in 2008 when she was part of the GB four that won a bronze medal, and a year later she won silver.

After leaving Queen Anne’s, Westminster-born Olivia went to Oxford Brookes and, with her career on the river intensifying, she established herself as a GB regular.

“I graduated while rowing full-time,” she added.

In 2011 she was moved into the eight boat and they finished fifth in the World Under-23 Championships.

The following year she made her debut at senior level, winning a bronze medal in Belgrade.

Olivia switched to the GB women’s pair for a World Cup regatta in Lucerne and then teamed up with Caragh McMurtry to win a silver medal in the World U23 Championships. The pair repeated that achievement at the European Championships in Varese and they also won bronze medals in the eights event.

And it is in the eights where she will be competing in Rio.

When announcing his Olympic squad last Thursday, British Rowing’s performance director and team leader, Sir David Tanner, said the crew. to be coxed by Zoe de Toledo from Henley’s Leander Club, have “lots of hard work still to do” and “will need to step up their performances.”

But as Olivia told the Chronicle: “We are just as hungry as the rest of the squad.

“We have already had success this season. There has been a bit of disruption with the women’s doubles still to be selected, but to be honest this has just made us stronger.

“We know we need to be as tight as possible and fast as possible if we are to beat the Americans, but we are right on their tails.”

Olivia,who lives in Henley, added: “Being selected for the Olympics is a dream come true for me and it would be lovely if I could bring home a medal.

“My family have given me great support all the way and I would also like to thank Eira Parry and all members of Reading Rowing Club for their support.”