GARY Moorby reckons a full-time environment can help his daughter Leah towards the pinnacle of her sport.

The Keighley teenager has completed her first month as part of the Great Britain Taekwondo World Class Performance Centre in Manchester, with selection being part of the UK Sport-funded Fighting Chance initiative.

Former Cougars player and coach Gary featured at the top level of domestic rugby league for Leeds and St Helens but was always part-time.

However, Leah, a British junior champion for the past four years, is enjoying life as a full-time athlete as she looks to make her mark in the senior ranks.

Gary said: "She is there with the likes of (double Olympic gold medallist) Jade Jones, (Olympic bronze medallist) Bianca Walkden and Lutalo Muhammad (who has also won Olympic silver and bronze).

"She can only benefit from being in that sort of company.

"The GB Academy has a state-of-the-art training facility that only opened last year and is regarded as being among the best in the world.

"Leah is being coached by the GB High performance coaching staff and has access to superb resources that include support from sports psychology, nutrition, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning staff."

The 17-year-old is currently building up for her first big competition of the year, which is the Austrian Open in June.

The G class event carries Olympic ranking points and is the first step in her bid to reach the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Leah is part of a 14-strong intake at Manchester, who were selected from 282 applicants following a four-day boot camp, which included test fights against athletes from various martial arts, such as karate and kick boxing.

Also selected was Bradford's Emelye O'Brien.

The graduates will be initially reviewed every three months up to the end of the initial year and then annually up to 2020 Olympics.

Leah turned down the opportunity to go full-time in October 2015 as she wanted to stay at Oakbank School and complete her GCSE exams, but with those now completed the British No 1 has set her sights on Tokyo.

She is living in an under-18s athletes' house and is due to continue her further education at the local college, where the other GB athletes and Manchester City FC youngsters study.

Gary said that there were several people who have been involved with Leah's development for the past nine years who deserved praise, including Lisa Winteridge, Kathy Hook and Paul Royston.

He said: "We would like to thank everyone for the massive amount of support Leah has received since she started her sport under the guidance of Lisa of Strike Taekwondo in Keighley as an eight-year-old .

"Lisa noted the huge potential in Leah and unselfishly recommended she move to train with Doncaster-based Kathy Hook, who helped fulfil that potential.

"Five and a half years of hard work later and the rewards have come.

"We would also like to acknowledge the superb work done by Paul Royston, Leah's strength and conditioning coach, who has turned her into the athlete she is today.

"A big thank you also to all who have supported Leah over the years in various ways, including David Maxwell, head of Oakbank School and his staff, her main sponsor Richard Chadwick of Airedale Chemical and the many others who have made financial contributions to help Leah on her journey.

"Kathy has done a fantastic job with Leah. She is the best female coach in the UK and believes this full-time opportunity will enable Leah to reach the top of her sport."

Leah has had a glittering amateur career, representing Great Britain five times, including two World and three European Championships, bringing home three medals.

She has dominated her weight category domestically, winning the British junior title for the past four years, and also adding the British senior title to her collection last year at the Copper Box Olympic venue in London.

Leah has remained unbeaten in the UK since November 2012 – a remarkable achievement at any level – and has won many international medals in countries such as Germany, Holland, Spain, Croatia and Romania.