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Tokyo Olympics: the ones to watch from south west London

The Tokyo Olympics start this Friday after being delayed a year by COVID-19, and SWLondoner is previewing all the athletes to watch from on our patch.

We will have separate sections for the rowers, track and field athletes and hockey players representing the area over the next three days, but this profile is for the rest of Team GB.

Team GB are sending the largest ever squad for an oversees Olympics, as they look to follow up the success of Rio 2016, where Great Britain finished second with 67 medals, 27 gold, 23 silver and 17 bronze.

Below, SWL has profiled all of the squad members who were either born in, or train in, south west London.

James Woodgate – Archery

At just 19-years-old, James Woodgate is not only the youngest member of the archery team heading to the Tokyo Olympics, but one of the youngest people travelling to Tokyo.

Having first picked up a bow aged seven in his hometown of Shepperton, Woodgate has been competing in archery for a decade despite his young age.

He is one member of the team who has benefitted from the Olympics being pushed back 12 months, as he was originally only named as a standby ahead of 2020.

The highlight of Woodgate’s burgeoning career so far was competing at the 2019 World Youth Championships in the recurve cadet men’s division.

Woodgate, who is taking a gap year to compete before starting at Warwick University to study physics in September, also won ‘Most Potential’ Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) Star Awards last year.

Ben Lane – Badminton

If Woodgate started young, then Kingston-born badminton player Ben Lane started younger, first picking up a racquet aged two.

Now aged 24, Lane comes from a family of badminton players – his mother Suzanne Louis-Lane played for England and so did his older brother Alex.

Lane has been playing for England since he was nine and along the way won three medals at the European Junior Championships with current partners Sean Vendy in the boys’ doubles and Jessica Pugh in the mixed doubles.

Lane and Vendy, who will participate in the men’s doubles at Tokyo, became the first English male pair to reach the last four at the World Tour Finals in Thailand back in January, and won the Orleans Masters Badminton title in March.

Lane was also part of the mixed team that secured a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Eden Cheng – Synchronised diving

Being raised in south London, it’s no surprise that Eden Cheng, then aged nine, was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.

Less than a decade later, and the diver’s promising career has led her to the Olympics herself, via Crystal Palace Diving Club.

Cheng, paired with fellow British diver Lois Toulson in the women’s 10m synchro platform, delivered a gold medal at the age of 15 at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow.

Since then, the pair have delivered a European silver medal in Budapest in 2020, before winning silver at the 2021 FINA Diving World Cup in Japan in May.

That silver secured them a qualification spot for the Olympics, where Cheng will not only be hoping to inspire others the way she was inspired, but to come back with a medal.

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix – 10m platform diving

Andrea Spendolini Sirieix (GBR), MAY 5, 2021 – Diving : 22nd FINA Diving World Cup 2021 Women’s 10m Platform Semi-final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by YUTAKA/AFLO SPORT)

It says a lot about 10m platform diver Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix that being the daughter of First Dates TV star Fred Sirieix may be the least interesting thing about her.

The 16-year-old from Crystal Palace Diving Club has won an international solo gold medal, a synchronised European silver medal and been named Young Sports Personality of the Year, and an Olympic medal would take her career stratospheric.

It’s been a rollercoaster 18 months for Spendolini-Sirieix, who took the jump from junior to senior diving with aplomb as she won gold in the women’s 10m platform at the British Diving Championships, before a month later winning the FINA Grand Prix in Rostock.

That gold was enough for her to become only the second diver after Tom Daley named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year last year.

And ahead of what could be a defining Olympics for her, the south London diver won 10m mixed synchro silver at the European Championships with Noah Williams, only to follow that up with a bronze in the individual 10m platform.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – Road Cycling

Another man to benefit from the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back 12 months is Tao Geoghegan Hart, who exploded into the public consciousness in October when he won the Giro d’Italia.

The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist has been racing with the team since 2017 and made his debut at the 2018 Vuelta a España but didn’t break through until the 2020 Giro, after failing to finish in the 2019 edition.

Selected for both the time trial and men’s road race alongside Ineos Grenadiers teammate and 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, London-based Geoghegan Hart is looking to add an Olympic medal to his achievements.

The 26-year-old, who trained at the Herne Hill Velodrome growing up, will be making his Olympic debut, but will be hoping to propel himself right back into the public eye in Toyko.

Ethan Hayter – Track Cycling

Endurance track cyclist Ethan Hayter has, at the age of 22, already been labelled the next Bradley Wiggins by teammate Ed Clancy.

Whilst that might seem like hyperbole, Hayter became a World and European champion as a teenager, and looks set for a big summer in Tokyo.

The London-born cyclist, who trained at Herne Hill Velodrome, was part of the team with Clancy, Kian Emadi and Charlie Tanfield that secured team pursuit gold in the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Apeldoorn.

He followed that up with a solo gold in the Omnium in the European Championships in Glasgow, and also has World Championship silver and bronze medals, Commonwealth silver and bronze medals, and three additional European bronze medals in his trophy cabinet.

Already a vital part of Team GB’s track cycle team, that delivered six gold medals and four silvers in Rio, Hayter will be hoping to add to cycling’s gold rush in Tokyo.

Paul Casey – Golf

Jun 20, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Paul Casey plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

After 20 years of golf, you would think that there are very few new experiences to be undertaken, but for Paul Casey, the Olympics would definitely tick that box.

There won’t be many Olympians making their debut at the age of 43 either, but that won’t bother Casey as he looks to defend the gold medal secured for Team GB by Justin Rose in 2016.

Whilst Casey has never won a major championship, he’s still had a very successful career, winning 21 professional tournaments and finishing in the top ten of every major at least once.

The former world number three, who has participated in four Ryder Cups and won three of them, grew up in Weybridge and went to school in Hampton, before moving to Arizona.

Casey qualified for the Olympics due to his world ranking position of 20th alongside Tommy Fleetwood, who qualified due to Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood all declining the opportunity.

Mahama Cho – Taekwondo

Narrowly losing out on a bronze medal at Rio 2016, Ivory Coast born Mahama Cho is looking to go one step further in Tokyo.

The number ten seed reached the semi-finals, only to lose out to number three seed Radik Isayev and then host competitor Maicon Siqueira in the bronze medal match.

Cho first came to the UK at the age of eight and settled down in south London, living in both Kennington and Stockwell as a boy.

The now 31-year-old played semi-professional football before settling for Taekwondo, where he has competed across a number of heavyweight levels for Great Britain in the last 12 years.

His best result is a silver medal at the World Championships in Muju, South Korea, in 2017, where he lost out to Olympic silver medallist Abdoul Razak Issoufou.

Joe Salisbury – Tennis doubles

It’s been a whirlwind 18 months since Putney’s Joe Salisbury made his name with a men’s doubles victory in the 2020 Australian Open with American Rajeev Ram.

Since then, Salisbury has won his second Grand Slam, a mixed doubles win at the French Open this year with American Desirae Krawczyk.

However, there has been disappointment too for the 29-year-old, as Krawczyk teamed up with fellow Brit Neal Skupski to defeat Salisbury and Harriet Dart in the final at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Moreover, there was to be no back-to-back Australian Open win, as Ram and Salisbury were defeated by Ivan Dodig and Filip Polášek.

Nevertheless, Salisbury has been a finalist in all three Slams so far this year, and that stands him in good stead for Tokyo, where he will team up with double-Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray in the men’s doubles.

It is yet to be confirmed who the mixed doubles team will be, but it’s very possible Salisbury will be in with two very real shouts for a medal at Tokyo.

Alex Yee – Triathlon

Lewisham-born and Dulwich-schooled triathlete Alex Yee split up the famous Brownlee brothers when he secured the second spot at Tokyo 2020.

Competing alongside Jonny Brownlee, Yee was selected ahead of double Olympic gold medallist Alistair after securing his first World Triathlon Series victory in Leeds on 6 June – an event Brownlee was disqualified from.

Yee had previously secured a world series silver in Abu Dhabi in 2019, as well as gold at the Accenture World Triathlon mixed relay series.

With the standard of recent British triathletes set so high, Yee will be desperate to put his own stamp on the competition.

The 23-year-old is also a middle-distance runner, and has represented Great Britain in the 5000m and 10,000m.

TOKYO BOUND: Alex Yee wins his first World Triathlon Series victory in Leeds

Celia Quansah – Rugby Sevens

In another life, Celia Quansah could have been lining up in the Olympics in an entirely different discipline.

The 25-year-old from Twickenham competed against the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon at the British Championships, before taking up rugby at university just four years ago.

Joining the Loughborough Lightning’s Premier 15s team, Quansah has never looked back, joining the England rugby sevens team in 2018/19.

Quansah was part of the team that won the Olympic qualifying event in Russia in 2019, so it’s fitting that she returns to the team at Tokyo.

Alex Matthews – Rugby Sevens

After missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympics through injury, you could forgive Alex Matthews for thinking the worst when Tokyo 2020 was suspended.

Worse still for the England flanker, the England sevens programme she had been a part of since 2018 was cut in August 2020, once again throwing her Olympic participation into doubt.

But the 2018 RPA Women’s Sevens Player of the Year didn’t give up, and despite not playing XV’s rugby since the 2017 World Cup – where England were runner’s up – Matthews joined Worcester and rejoined the England XV’s side in time to secure a 2020 Six Nations Grand Slam.

The former Richmond player, who won a league and cup double with the club in 2014 and also has a Commonwealth bronze under her belt, will be grateful to be at Tokyo, but will be even more grateful to bring home a medal.

Emma Uren – Rugby Sevens

It’s not necessarily a surprise that having been brought up in the home of rugby all the way through to going to university at St Mary’s University, Twickenham’s Emma Uren would end up representing her country at rugby.

Now 23, Uren first picked up a rugby ball aged 11, and despite being a competitive swimmer until she was 15, ended up playing rugby professionally for England sevens and Saracens.

Like Quansah, she was part of the England team that secured Olympic qualification in Russia, with Uren scoring a try in the final as England beat the hosts 19-0.

Unfortunately, like Matthews, Uren was made redundant when English rugby cut its sevens program, one year into her three year deal.

Following her return from a hamstring injury however, Uren is back with Saracens, and hoping to make a big impact at Tokyo.

Ollie Lindsay-Hague – Rugby Sevens

A silver medallist in Tokyo in 2016, Ollie Lindsay-Hague is back in the rugby sevens squad for Tokyo 2020 hoping to go one better.

The London-born back, who played for London Welsh before spending five years at Harlequins, has a Premiership Rugby and Anglo-Welsh Cup under his belt from his time with the Twickenham-based club.

However, since leaving Quins in 2016, Lindsay-Hague has established himself with the England sevens team that were runners up at the 2018 World Cup and third place at the Commonwealth Games in the same year.

The 30-year-old is versatile, having played scrum-half, wing and full-back and that versatility will make him an important player for Team GB as they hunt gold in Tokyo.

You can read the rest of SWL’s Tokyo Olympics coverage, including the rest of our preview profiles here.

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