A BASEBALL player from Cark is targeting the Olympic Games as he pitches his case for a significant career in the sporting arena.

Joe Rawcliffe, 18, was hooked on the sport ever since trying it out at primary school, now honing his skills at his local side Cartmel Valley Lions as he steps up his bid to reach the top of baseball, which is rapidly growing in popularity outside its traditional heartlands of the USA, Cuba and Japan.

The promising teenager is also firmly in Great Britain’s plans, having previously reached the national U15s team, while a big step-up is in store across this season.

“My proudest achievement is probably being with the GB team,” he said. “I’d like to say we’re one of the more fun teams. We have a laugh and get great experience.

“Unfortunately, I broke my toe two days before the tournament, but I still loved it – it was a great two weeks and great to be a part of that higher–level team.

“I’m looking to take a gap year after I’ve finished A-Levels and focus primarily on baseball. I want to go to America to go to college, so I’m looking at division three colleges out there.

“I want to get into the GB U23s next year as well, hopefully compete somewhere with them in Europe and see where I can progress in my sport.

“Tokyo have just put baseball into Olympics.

“I think maybe it might be a little bit too soon, so I’m looking at 2024 if they decide to keep it in.

“If not it’s the World Baseball Classic which is like the sport’s World Cup.

“We came second in the qualifiers last year and you have to come first to qualify, so hopefully we can qualify for that and I can get into the side and play some big teams like America and Japan.”

His cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport’s system.

Rawcliffe was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at The London Stadium, where they were offered media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents.

The youngsters from all over the country were joined by sports stars Maggie Alphonsi, John McAvoy and Jake Wightman.