When you are an athlete there is nothing greater than taking part in the Olympic Games. You obviously do as well as you can in local athletics and at regional events and you want to be the very best in your discipline in your home country. And in Europe or elsewhere in the world you clearly want to prove to everyone – especially yourself – that you have the ability to push your talent beyond its own limits time and time again.
The European Championships, the World Championships – these are among the most important events in the world of an athlete and getting a medal at either of them is a fantastic achievement. But there is nothing – repeat, nothing – that matches competing in and winning a medal at the Olympic Games.
We are now into the last 40-odd days before the 2016 Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From 5 August to 21 August, athletes from 206 countries will be taking part in 42 different sports at 37 impressive venues.
Just for the next few minutes, however, let’s forget about all the other competitors and focus on Team GB and – in particular – five British athletes who we think are set to shine in Rio.
Looking to deliver the performances of their lives at Rio will be:
- Laura Trott OBE
In 2012, Laura became the first British woman to win two gold medals at any Olympic Games. The track and road cyclist won the team pursuit and omnium gold medals in London, bringing her gold medal career haul to 21 (25 medals in all), and she will be looking to repeat the feat or do even better in Rio.
Despite having asthma, Laura has shown that if you put your heart into your chosen sport the sky is the limit. And even though she has won 10 golds at the European Championships, five at the World Championships and one at the Commonwealth Games, nothing compares to her achievements at the 2012 Olympics and she will be bursting with every sinew in her body to add more golds to her collection this August.
- Nicola Adams MBE
Britain’s most decorated female boxer, Nicola Adams took flyweight boxing – and the world – by storm at the 2012 London Olympics where she won a memorable gold medal.
With the nickname ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’, Nicola has been given many awards in her short career, including an MBE, being top of a national newspaper’s ‘Pink List’ and the title of sportswoman of the year.
It’s impossible not to warm to Nicola and to smile along when her beaming grin shines out of your TV screen. And everyone in Britain will be urging her along in Rio and looking forward to that smile lighting up her face and our world as she walks away with yet more gold around her neck.
- Christine Ohuruogu MBE
Christine is another British track and field athlete who is expected to do great things at the Rio Olympics. The ex Commonwealth, World and Olympic champion in the 400m, Christine won her gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 but only managed silver in 2012. Four years on and she will be looking to regain her crown in her favoured discipline.
Also a specialist in the 4 x 400m relay, Christine Ohuruogu cannot be mistaken for any other athlete when you see her on the track. Another competitor with an infectious smile, she is among the fittest athletes ever to don the kit of Team GB. Any athlete – of any gender – would be envious of Christine’s six-pack abs and the incredible power that she generates from her muscle-bound legs and arms.
- Louis Smith MBE
The winner of three Olympic medals, the stunning artistic gymnast Louis Smith has his sights set firmly on a third medal in Rio. Of the 18 medals he has won so far in his career, Louis has four golds and eight silvers and when the world sees him in full flight on the pommel horse in August they should expect him to increase that tally.
At the London Olympics in 2012, Louis Smith won an individual silver and a team bronze and four years before that he won an individual pommel horse bronze. He is so creative and supple that he also won the Strictly Come Dancing series in the same year and recently he was in the tabloids for having a bit of cheeky fun on Instagram. We have no doubt that he will shine in Rio and make Britain proud.
- Greg Rutherford MBE
Considered to be the best long jumper in the world, Greg Rutherford has also been in the news recently, this time for having his sperm frozen because of fears that he could contract the Zika virus when he is down in Rio. The World Health Organisation has played down the risk but Greg is clearly being cautious.
However, as a winner of an Olympic gold in 2012, Greg can be expected to throw caution to the wind when he lines up for the long jump and hope to add to his tally of five gold medals, the latest of which was won at the 2015 World Championships. Greg will also be hoping to avoid any of the injuries that have prevented him from achieving so much more. Everyone in Britain watching him will be keeping their fingers crossed that his hamstring doesn’t let him down.
So keep your eyes peeled for these five British athletes who promise to deliver so much in Rio. Whatever they achieve, their extraordinary talent will undoubtedly astound and delight millions of fans of Team GB and athletic sports in general.