A PAIR of Oxfordshire’s rising sports stars were in the Great Britain team which flew out to the European Youth Olympics yesterday.

Cyclist Millie Couzens and swimmer Nicholas Skelton will be among 2,500 athletes from 48 countries competing across ten sports in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Couzens is one of three female riders in the cycling team.

The Bicester School pupil, 15, goes into her international debut high on confidence after finishing second at the national youth circuit championships.

Nicholas Skelton, who is from Abingdon but competes for City of Oxford, is among a 16-strong swimming squad.

They are part of a 44-person team, who are seen as potential Olympians of the future, so experience of large multi-event competitions could prove useful.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington and cyclist Pete Kennaugh are among those who competed at a European Youth Olympics before going on to win a medal at a senior Olymic Games .

Elaine Skilton, Team GB’s Chef de Mission, said: “Wearing the Olympic rings for the first time and competing for your country is always a huge honour.

“Baku 2019 is set to be a great event and we have a very talented group of British athletes coming together to form Team GB for this Festival.

“European Youth Olympic Festivals are fantastic for the next generation of British Olympic sporting stars, providing an opportunity to compete internationally, experience the unique world of multi-sport events and be part of Team GB.

“The British Olympic Association is already planning for

Paris 2024 and no doubt a number of these athletes will already have their eyes set on those Games.

“Hopefully Baku 2019 can act as a great springboard for them as they develop and move through their sporting career towards the senior ranks of Olympic sport, and I wish every athlete the very best for the Festival ahead.”