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East Lancashire's Olympic dynamic dozen
EAST Lancashire’s Olympic line up has now been completed as 12 of our sports men and women prepare to take their part in history.
Edenfield’s Ciaran Williams was the last to hear his London 2012 fate, being selected for the Great Britain handball team yesterday, as all eyes now focus on the showpiece event later this month.
Some of our hopefuls have been left disappointed but, for our ‘dynamic dozen’, it is full steam ahead for the greatest show on earth.
All of our athletes will head to London with differing ambitions, dreams and expectations on them, as they look to do themselves and East Lancashire proud.
The ‘Colne Cyclone’ Steven Burke is probably the region’s hottest medal hope with anything but gold for Team GB in the team pursuit seen as a disappointment.
The 24-year-old already has an Olympic bronze to his name, won in the individual pursuit in Beijing in 2008, but he and his GB team mates only have their eyes on gold this time round.
Sawley canoeist Jonnie Schofield is another with his sights firmly set on a medal, having won European gold earlier this year.
The 26-year-old will competing in the K1 200m, with partner Liam Heath, and will even fancy claiming the title of Olympic champion.
Paralympian Graeme Ballard will head to London with high hopes of returning to East Lancashire with gold.
The Chorley sprinter, 32, smashed the 100m world record on his way to gold at the Paralympic World Cup in May, and will look for a repeat of that success.
Pole vault sensation Holly Bleasdale will quietly fancy her chances of making the podium in London, after a meteoric rise in the sport over the past 18 months.
The 20-year-old Blackburn Harrier, from Chorley, has quickly established herself as one of the country’s most talked about youngsters in the build up to the games.
A British record holder who stands fourth in the world all time rankings won bronze in the world indoor championships earlier this year, having only taken up the sport four years ago.
The presence of double Olympic champion and world record holder Yelena Isanbayeva probably leaves the gold medal out of Bleasdale’s reach but silver and bronze are up for grabs.
Bleasdale is understandably playing her hopes down, insisting just reaching the final would be a success, but her form this year suggests she could pring a surprise.
Samantha Murray is another East Lancastrian with a medal shot, having qualified for Team GB’s modern pentathlon squad amid some heavy competition.
The 22-year-old Clitheroe ace won bronze in the world championships in Rome and her aim is to make the podium.
Burnley’s England goalkeeper Rachel Brown is in with an outside chance of a medal. Although Team GB women would have to pull off a few shock results to make the podium. The home crowd could give that extra edge.
Bacup’s Sophie Cox is another with an ‘outside chance’ of a medal. Competing in the 52kg judo category, she will have to be at very best to pick up a medal.
Blackburn Harrier and Burnley hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon will cap a remarkable year with an appearance at London 2012 at just the age of 20. The former Ivy Bank pupil has broken the British record and made the European Championships final.
A podium place will probably be just out of her grasp but a spot in the Olympic final would be a success.
Former Haslingden High School pupil Williams and Burnley’s Holly Lam Moores will represent the GB handball squads, with qualification a success.
The same goes for New Zealand youngsters Tim Payne, of Blackburn Rovers, and Cameron Howieson, of Burnley. The duo have been selected for the All Whites’ Olympic football side but progress beyone the first round will be a bonus.
Spare a thought for swimmer Daniel Sliwinski, who was forced to withdraw with injury, while Haidher Riaz, David Groom, Nathan Burns, Ryan Bennett and Josh Walsh were disappointed.
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