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Barking Abbey basketballer heading to Barack Obama’s former university

PUBLISHED: 07:57 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:57 27 April 2017

A talented Barking teenager will be in good company as she heads to the same top American university attended by former president Barack Obama.

Imani Whittington, who attends Barking Abbey School in Sandringham Road, will be swapping the basketball courts in Barking for the high rises of New York and corridors of Ivy League school Columbia University.

The 18-year-old, who currently plays basketball for Great Britain under-20s, will be heading off to the university to follow in the footsteps of three ex-presidents and 10 Supreme Court justices.

“It has not really hit me yet, but I’m really excited,” she said.

“I’m leaving near the end of August and looking forward to the challenge.”

The forward, who started out playing netball, feels that going abroad will benefit her game and give her more of a chance to make it professionally.

“I feel like they have a lot more opportunities professionally for women,” Imani said.

“I’m just looking forward to the opportunities it will open up to me.”

Imani is keen to keep progressing in the sport, but doesn’t want it to stunt her studies, as she realises her education is extremely important.

“I was just using my basketball as a vehicle to get out to America, but it’s not my priority,” she added.

“I’m hoping to major in psychology with some business.”

The rising star believes her school has played a big part in getting her into the GB fold and into university.

“My head of year really did help with the whole process, especially with my application,” she said.

“I train everyday here at Barking Abbey and the links that my coach has have really helped.”

The former England under 15s captain and national school champion is now hoping to make a life and career across the pond.

“I’m hoping to stay out there, but I’ve heard it’s difficult to get a job and even harder because of how the visa’s work out there,” she said.

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