Netball showed Eleanor Sadler that her height is a strength.

The 16-year-old from Wimbledon is one of English netball's fastest-rising stars, but her remarkable journey to national team selection only started when she began to love what made her different.

Now, the Turnford Netball Club prospect used her talent to inspire Team England to a bronze medal at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, where the sport made its long-awaited debut in the Fast5 format. 

"I think realising my height is something to be proud of has been cool," she said.

"It is an advantage, it benefits me, and I think netball has really helped me realise that it is what it is and I do believe my height has helped me get to where I am.

"I don't think I realised how much of a strength being tall is because I think I was always quite embarrassed about my height.

"I stood out a bit physically, so I think that being part of a netball team showed me that there are other people this height and it made me feel less embarrassed about it.

"I can't change it, it is what it is.

"Because I am quite tall and because of my physique, I was a late bloomer in the sense that I was around 13 or 14 before I truly started to be in control of my body.

"I think when I was 11, you probably could have described me as quite discombobulated!

"My sporting talent definitely coincided with my increased ability to coordinate my limbs and use my body to its strengths.

"I only joined Pulse a few years ago and then suddenly I was playing for England, it was all quite a quick transition from club to Pulse to England.

"You speak to other athletes and it is like they have been living and breathing a sport since they were five or six.

"My development came a lot later but at a much faster rate."

Sadler has not received overtly rude comments about her height, but she is regularly reminded of it by well-meaning strangers.

However, since starting her netball journey she has refused to take the comments to heart.

"It was not like an embarrassment, but it is just a very objective difference, I am taller than the average person," she said."I think some people may say 'Oh you are so tall' or 'Oh you have grown' or something like that and that is ok.

"I think definitely when people are pointing it out or sitting and making comments about it it makes you feel a little bit more self-conscious.

"They are never negative comments, they are just a statement of fact, but when it is a statement of fact and you can't change that and you feel different it does just make you feel self-conscious.

"I think that did definitely make me realise that it is ok to be different."

Sadler believes that increased confidence and comfort in her own skin have helped take her game to the next level in recent years.

"I think my progress as a player and my confidence as a person went hand in hand," she said.

"I gained more control of my body in terms of the way I moved, in terms of the way I played, that in turn helped my netball career.

"I was suddenly able to utilise my height to my advantage, one helped the other."

Netball has helped change Sadler's life and she hopes to build on her podium finish at Trinbago 2023. 

"I think once I get a taste for what is it like, get out there and feel what it is like to represent Team England in a competitive environment, I will want more," she added.

"I have always been really realistic with my goals, I don't like setting them too high, so in terms of getting with Team England I just want to see how far I can go with it and learn as much as I can.

"I just want to make sure I am always enjoying myself when I play sport, it is my number one priority and if my enjoyment gets me to a senior Commonwealth Games then that would be amazing.

"When I was selected I was just elated, I was so happy and I think I was actually a little bit surprised.

"I think I was at the gym and it was just an amazing feeling, whenever I thought about it at school the next day I would smile."