Monday 20 August 2012

Olympics heroes and hopefuls; ones to watch out for in Rio 2016

As with 99.9% of the population I have been glued to the screen for the past two weeks watching with delight at the continued unfolding of Team GB success at the London Olympics.

The big athletic stars are now ingrained in our memories forever; Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, David Rudisha, Usain Bolt, the US female dream team, Christine Ohuruogu, Sally Pearson.

But what about the blossoming stars? Who will shine through come Rio 2016? My top five athletes to watch out for in the forthcoming years includes;

1) Adam Gemili
Gemili, 19, won gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona with a 10.05 100m. Only Dwain Chambers has ever run faster as a junior. He qualified for the semi finals at the Olympics but unfortunately didn't get through to the finals. Nor did the men's 4x100m relay team place this year, as Gemili misjudged his timing in the handover.

Gemili is also a talented football player but this year has officially dedicated his time to perfecting his sprint. Let's hope it stays that way over the next four years.

2) Katarina Johnson-Thompson
We've had Denise Lewis, and now Jess Ennis. Could Rio 2016 be the year that Katarina Johnson-Thompson achieves her own gold? She performed exceptionally well at London 2012, setting a new British junior record (and breaking Ennis's past record) by finishing 15th and breaking two of her previous pbs and equalling another.

She's had knee injuries in the past, but had intensive rehabilitation to set this right. It didn't seem to impair her this year.

3) Jonny Brownlee
I don't do triathlons because I know how painful they are. You only have to look at Jonny Brownlee after he finished third in London 2012, running off mid interview to vomit on the sidelines, to understand this. I find it mind boggling that Brownlee, 22, after swimming 1500m and cycling 43km, ran 10km in 29 minutes and 37 seconds. That's quick.

Bearing in mind Brownlee got a 15 point penalty at London 2012 for setting off too early on his bike and still got a bronze, he'll be hot on the heels of gold-winning older brother Alastair at Rio 2016.

4) Jodie Williams
Williams, 18, is the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships Gold medalist in the 100m and 200m. Williams unfortunately did not make an appearance at London 2012, after pulling a hamstring at the 100m Aviva trials. Up until that point, she was running consistently strong races.

One of the US's greatest female runners of all time Allyson Felix described her as someone with great potential.

5) Joe Thomas
Another runner plagued by injury this year, Joe Thomas is an 800m runner with a pb of 1:46:20. He was set to run in the London 2012 Olympics, but developed a stress fracture following a heel and shin injury. Like Gemili, he also battles with conflicting interests. In Thomas' case it's music. He has even gone as far to say he doesn't really like sport.

Without injury, Thomas is one of our best 800m hopeful, and could follow in the footsteps of Coe, Cram and Ovett. The question is whether he really wants to.

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