A DOUBLE sporting dream has moved a step closed to fulfilment for teenage Crediton twins Matthew and Ellen Arnold who have both secured places on prestigious courses in the fields of golf and equestrianism.
Matthew, who plays at Downes, Crediton, has been accepted into the Lee Westwood Professional Golf Academy in Colchester, for a two-year course, when he finishes his studies at Queen Elizabeth Academy, Crediton, this summer.
Ellen, who is an accomplished horserider, has won a place on a two-year course at the Hartpury College, in Gloucester. She has been riding for a number of years, and has been getting the competition 'all shook up' by winning prizes locally on her pony Elvis.
The 15-year-old twins' dad Gary, who runs taxi firm Express Cars, of Crediton, said for both youngsters to be doing so well in their chosen sports was "absolutely phenomenonal".
He said: "Matthew loves playing golf and he goes to the golf club every night after school and plays at the weekend. If he could, he would live up there. It's all about practice, practice and more practice and that is what has got him from a 54 handicap to now playing off 7.5 in the last few years."
Gary also plays golf and he said it was through him that Matthew first became interested in the sport, though they tended not to play together these days. Gary said it was better for his son's development to compete with lower handicap players.
Ellen has been keen on riding for even longer.
"She grew up with horses," said Gary.
Ellen started with her mum Vanessa, who had now "handed the mantle onto her daughter". She has been regularly taking part in eventing and crosscountry riding in recent years.
Ellen has had her current pony Elvis, stabled at Bickhams Farm Livery, at Whitestone, near Exeter, for around two years.
Gary said both he and Vanessa were "very proud" of the twins. He said the selection process for the golf academy run by former number-one ranked player in the world Westwood was particularly tough.
He said: "They only take 20 people a year and Matthew had to show he could play and also had the right attitude for the academy too."
Hartpury is a leading agricultural college and affiliated to the University of the West of England in Bristol. As well as offering equine-related diplomas and degrees, it runs a number of sports and animal and land science courses.
With the cost of buying golf clubs and green fees and looking after a pony, Gary joked that he sometimes wished his children had chosen to excel at two sports which didn't require such a big financial outlay.
He said that although the twins were in many ways like chalk and cheese, they both possessed a certain determination when it came to their respective sports.
"Personality-wise they are completely different, but I think they would both like to do something in their different sports as a career in the future," he added.