WARRINGTON'S Courtney Dean was part of the national water polo team who secured gold at the EU Nations Cup at the weekend.

The 22-year-old student, who is a member of Warrington Swimming and Water Polo Club, helped the England senior women’s team storm to victory at the championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

A thrilling final against South Africa saw the lead exchange hands frequently, with Dean scoring one goal, but it was England who started and finished the match strongly.

Despite missing two penalties and South Africa taking a 4-3 lead at the end of the first half, England grew in confidence and took control to win the final two quarters 3-2 and 6-0, earning them a spectacular 12-6 victory over the South African team.

This isn’t the first time Dean has represented her country - she competed in both the World and European Championships as a junior, coming seventh in the World Championships in France in 2010, when she was just 15.

Her passion for water polo started by accident after her brother, Conor, asked her to fill in at Warrington Swimming Club when she was just eight.

It wasn’t long before coaches spotted the swimmer’s talent and by the age of 11, she had made the regional squad and was playing in Manchester.

Dean, who lives in Stockton Heath, holds her level two accreditation in water polo coaching and swimming teaching, and currently works at Broomfields Leisure Centre.

She’s also supported by LiveWire’s Talented Athlete Programme and has been receiving regular support from experts at LiveWire during her training.

The swimmer’s next big challenge is the World University Games in August. Water polo is one of ten sports that will be played at the event in Taipei, Taiwan.

To compete in the next event, Dean needs to raise £2520 to cover the cost of her travel and training.

Since 2014, water polo athletes have been required to cover their own costs, since funding for the sport was withdrawn by UK Sport.

Warrington Swimming and Water Polo Club have already donated £150 to help Dean get to Taipei.