July 10: The latest on Norfolk’s athletes preparing for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London
London 2012 is almost here – and with Team GB selection confirmed, and Paralympics GB’s squad almost finalised, here is how our local competitors are shaping up in their bids for glory…
• London Olympics 2012
• Their tickets are booked – Stratford here they come…
Anna Bentley – Fencing
The long-time Norfolk Academy of Fencing star has made a success of her bid to join Team GB’s fencing team, with the three-times national champion training in Japan to help her cause. The 31-year-old former Norwich High School for Girls pupil and GB number two will compete in the individual and team senior women’s foil events at the ExCel Arena, aiming to help Britain to its first Olympic fencing medal since 1964. She will also hope to shake off a disappointing European Championships earlier in June, where she missed the cut.
Nick Dempsey – Windsurfing
Norwich-born Dempsey was one of the first to gain selection for the Games – September 2011 – and will compete in the RS:X men. The Mulbarton sailor has been able to spend the last few weeks getting perfectly acquainted to the Olympics water at Weymouth where he has lived, trained and competed for more than 10 years. He admits his fourth in Beijing is firing him for medal success this summer, while it has also been announced that windsurfing will be dropped from the Olympics after London – another subject stirring Dempsey’s emotions. He has been in decent form too, and took silver at a weather-affected World Championships in Cadiz earlier in the year.
James Dasaolu – Athletics
Croydon’s 100m sprinter has his own fan club in Norwich, with parents Akintola and Abosede running Steve McDonald News in Witard Road, north Norwich. Dasaolu and Adam Gemili were the two athletes to have clocked the Olympic qualifying time ahead of the Games, and they will be joined in London by Dwayne Chambers – who pipped the pair at June’s UK Athletics Trials in Birmingham. The 24-year-old will also take part in the 4x100m relay and will be aiming to compete in two finals.
Colin Oates – Judo
The 29-year-old Diss fighter is the latest to have is name confirmed for Team GB’s London effort. He will compete in the under-66kg category. He had to wait too, after the squad’s announcement was delayed for what were thought to be appeals over omissions, not involving Oates. He competed at the European Championships in Russia in April and had an injury scare on missing out at the British Open in May, but will be fine for the summer.
Anthony Ogogo – Boxing
A monumental effort from the Lowestoft fighter saw him earn the final berth at the European Championships in April that officially booked his place at this summer’s Games. And all after having to undergo shoulder surgery just five months ago and then working his way back to fitness. His place in a supremely strong Team GB boxing squad was confirmed earlier in June and he will take his place in the men’s middleweight 75kg category. Getting to London was an awesome achievement – but Ogogo has eyes on leaving with a medal.
Barbara Parker – Athletics
The City of Norwich AC distance runner, now based in Atlanta, is in good form and primed for an Olympic double. Having sampled only the 3,000m steeplechase heats in Beijing, the Pott Row runner will take on that event once again in London – followed by a stab at the 5,000m. Due to her strong claims for a berth in the former, Parker ran only the latter at the UK Trials in Birmingham – finishing second behind Jo Pavey. Parker is world number seven at the steeplechase – and hopes eveything is in place for a serious medal assault on home soil.
Emma Pooley – Cycling
The former Norwich High School for Girls pupil and Beijing road time-trial silver medallist has been confirmed in Team GB’s four-strong London squad, meaning another stab at the time-trial and the road race – where in Beijing, Pooley helped Nicole Cooke to gold. Pooley’s form since her Beijing success and turning professional has been outstanding, elevating her to one of the top women’s road riders in the world. And while she admits the London courses don’t suit her style, she has ensured she is ready to compete at the front of the field.
• London arrived too soon – but their time will come…
Eddie Graver (Shooting) – Graver is only at the start of his career. He missed out on British Shooting’s initial London 2012 shortlist but Graver will hope he gets a better shot at 2016 in Rio. The youngster will also get to carry the Olympic torch during its journey to the opening ceremony this summer.
Albert Hicks (Canoeing) – Having just turned 18, the highly rated Attleborough kayaker has his sights on becoming world junior champion later this year.
Sophie McKinna (Shot-putt) – The 17-year-old from Great Yarmouth produced a brilliant fourth at the UK Athletics Trials in June and while that saw her ultimately miss out on the London Games, the fact the youngster got so close speaks volumes. Her focus now switches to the World Juniors in Barcelona, and then the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Tim Pendle (Canoeing) – The 22-year-old from Trowse had an outside chance of making London, but his more experienced colleagues got the Team GB nod in the end. However, his path is really geared for Rio in 2016 and big things are expected from a big talent.
Victoria Williamson (Cycling) – Understandably the one available place in her track event will head to Victoria Pendleton, but the youngster’s time will come.
• And sadly all over…
Richard Alexander (Hockey) – Arguably the biggest name to miss out, even the former Harleston Magpie and ex-Town Close pupil was expecting to be named in Team GB’s men’s hockey squad until discovering he wasn’t on the list announced at the end of June. It may be injuries before July 9 open a door for the defensive Surbiton star, who has been a regular for the national side since 2005 including Beijing. But in truth, it seems the player known as Ratman will have to cope with missing out on what would have been his final – and home – Olympics.
Nic Asher (Sailing) – The Lowestoft sailor misses out for the second time in a row after being omitted from the GB squad in January. The double world champion saw injury end hopes for Beijing. And having battled back from a rare and debilitating illness last year, Asher finished outside the medals at the World Championships in Australia, sealing his fate.
Tom Barber (Archery) – The Thorpe Hamlet archer’s form tailed off over recent months, meaning Barber was omitted from Archery GB’s Olympics squad announced in May.
Anne Bochmann (Swimming) – Injury and form saw the 18-year-old swimmer held off 2012 competition until the British Championships in her bid for London, but the Aquatics Centre saw the Norwich star fail to make the final of the 200m individual medley, freestyle or 400m. But the youngster is sure to back firing on all cylinders in the future.
Piggy French (Equestrianism)
The Norfolk eventing star has been left feeling devastated after being confirmed as part of Team GB’s Olympic squad – only for her ride DHI Topper W to pick up an injury with barely 25 days until the start of the Games, ruling out the pair from competing. The 31-year-old North Elmham eventer saw her other ride, Jakata, although withdraw through injury before she had to make the final decision over her ride. The medal prospect had triumphed at Greenwich Park’s Olympic test event last year.
Pippa Funnell (Equestrianism) – The west Norfolk rider would have been in line for serious medal contention but for her two horses primed for Greenwich Park success, Redesigned and Billy Shannon, to suffer injury and end Funnell’s hopes of competing. It has left the eventing star understandably devastated, given such a cruel twist of fate – one that was sadly repeated even closer to the Games for Piggy French.
Mick Gault (Shooting) – Gault is at the end of his career and the Commonwealth Games star was unable to make British Shooting’s initial London 2012 shortlist. That will be that for the veteran Dereham shooter’s Olympic ambitions.
Lauren Spink (Table Tennis) – Having had something of a renaissance, the Norwich table tennis star and England number five missed out on the English Table Tennis Association’s 2012 shortlist.
• London Paralympics 2012
• Their tickets are booked – Stratford here they come…
Jessica-Jane Applegate – Swimming
The 15-year-old will compete at this summer’s Paralympic Games after making British Swimming’s initial list of 16 competitors, after impressing at the British Championship’s women’s MC 200m freestyle final. The UEA City of Norwich Swimming Club starlet from Great Yarmouth cannot wait to get going.
Mel Clarke – Archery
The Taverham star and Beijing double medallist has been a long-time banker to be in London. She won silver in the women’s compound tournament at the Arizona Cup tournament in the United States alongside Danielle Brown and Pippa Britton, who also made the leading trio in the only day of women’s compound selection shooting at the end of April.
Amy Conroy – Wheelchair Basketball
A former Notre Dame High School pupil, Norwich’s Conroy has been a big hit since making it with GB. The 19-year-old excelled at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester during May, and will take her place in Team GB’s Paralympic squad.
Jody Cundy – Cycling
One of the 2012 poster boys, Cundy returned from the 2012 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in LA with a gold, silver and bronze. That was pretty much it for track meetings leading to London. Cundy’s confirmed selection means the Walpole St Andrew star is likely to compete in the team sprint, C4 1km time-trial and individual pursuit.
• And sadly all over…
Danny Nobbs (Shot-putt) – Norwich man Nobbs was in full-time training for the 12 months leading to London thanks to backing from his employer, Aviva. But as an athlete outside UK Athletics’ Elite funding programme, Nobbs had to do things the hard way – and in the end the British Paralympic Association selected Aled Davies, Kyron Duke, Dan Smith and Rob Womack as their shot-putt competitors. It meant heartbreak for Nobbs, who finished fifth at the Paralympic test event in the Olympic Stadium in May, and took silver in Berlin in June.
Susie Rogers-Hartley (Equestrianism) – The west Norfolk Para-equestrian rider hoped to make London – as a competitor for Hong Kong! But it relied on Susie finding her estranged father, something she has been unable to do before the deadline for selection despite a long and emotional search.
Will Smith (Wheelchair athletics) – The Dereham racer was called into the senior squad for the first time to compete in the Paralympic World Cup – which offered hope the teenager had an outside chance of making London. The 16-year-old delivered a brilliant 4x400m relay gold alongside double Paralympic champion David Weir at the London Disability Athletics Challenge test event in May. No shame is missing out on London, youngster Smith is sure to impress in future.