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Team GB Stars of the Future Selected to Youth Olympic Squad

December 5, 2012 15:39 pm

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced today the 120 athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney from 16-20 January 2013. 

The AYOF will see approximately 1,700 athletes aged 13-19 from 30 nations competing across 17 Olympic sports in many of the venues used to host the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Team GB will compete in 11 Olympic sports: badminton, basketball, diving, golf, gymnastics, hockey, rowing, shooting, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.

Inspired by Team GB’s outstanding success at this summer’s London Olympic Games, this group of young athletes will be aiming to use the AYOF experience as a springboard in their development towards fulfilling their aspirations of representing Team GB at future Olympic Games.

To view the full list of athletes selected to represent Team GB click here

To view the AYOF Handbook click here.

Competing in Australia will be 10 young golfers, who become the first Team GB representatives in the sport since the 1900 Olympic Games when British golfers won silver and bronze medals. It was announced by the International Olympic Committee in 2009 that golf would be re-introduced to the Olympic Programme for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Included in the squad is 16-year-old golfer Georgia Hall (Bournemouth) who is ranked number four in the world and number one in Europe. Hall has been shortlisted for the 2012 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award. Another leading name in the Team GB line-up is Commonwealth Games bronze medallist weightlifter Zoe Smith (London) who produced a personal best as a member of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. 

The diving squad for the AYOF includes Francesca Del Celo (Richmond) who will arrive fresh from winning a gold medal in the three metre synchronised event at the 2012 European Junior Championships. Shooter Sian Bruce (Dundee) became European Under-21 Champion in 2009 at the age of 17 and is now number two in the UK senior rankings. 

Artistic gymnasts Nile Wilson (Pudsey) and Courtney Tulloch (Maidstone) will enter the AYOF high on confidence following their gold medal performance in the team event at the 2012 European Junior Championships. The Team GB badminton squad includes Alex Lane (Exmouth) and Tom Wolfenden (Liverpool) who won European Junior gold and Youth Commonwealth Games silver medals respectively in 2011. 

Meanwhile Leeds based triathletes Georgia Taylor-Brown and Gordon Benson have benefitted from regularly training alongside London 2012 Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. Team GB’s basketball players will compete in the 3v3 format of the game, which proved to be very popular at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

The Team GB delegation of 186, including coaches and support staff, will be led by Chef de Mission Mark England. The BOA Director of Games Services brings with him experience from six Olympic Games as Deputy Chef de Mission, and the 2013 AYOF will be the 12th time he has led Team GB at a Youth Olympic event.

Team GB has participated very successfully at the last two AYOFs, held in 2007 and in 2009 when they claimed 26 gold, 16 silver and 26 bronze medals – 68 in total. Previous AYOFs have provided an important stepping stone for many of Team GB’s successful London 2012 Olympians.  From the two previous visits to the AYOF a total of 35 athletes from 12 sport disciplines have graduated to become Olympians, and they have won 17 Olympic medals to date. The AYOF Team GB alumni include the likes of London 2012 medallists Louis Smith (gymnastics), Tom Daley (diving), Katherine Copeland (rowing) and Jonathan Brownlee (triathlon).

As part of its commitment to develop and nurture future British Olympic talent for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and beyond, the British Olympic Association will be taking Team GB delegations to seven Youth Olympic events over the next four years, beginning with the 2013 AYOF.

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission said:

“Following the inspirational achievements of Team GB’s athletes this summer at the London 2012 Games it is an exciting time to lead this group of exceptionally talented young athletes to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

“The AYOF will play an important role in introducing these athletes to an environment reminiscent of the Olympic Games and providing them with a taste of a multi-sport competition. They will also have the opportunity to develop their understanding of the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect.  I’m confident the AYOF will prove to be an invaluable experience in progressing their international sporting careers as they aim to bridge the gap between youth and senior international representation. The statistics show what a crucial springboard the AYOF has been for many of our successful London 2012 Olympians.”

Reflecting on their AYOF experience with Team GB:

Kat Copeland, Rowing Olympic gold medallist:

"I had a brilliant time going over to Australia. I learned a lot that helped me this summer (at London 2012) in terms of staying in the village, kitting out, going to an opening ceremony - it was different to anything I'd done before and just two weeks of fun. We had some close races in the double and I think it gave me the first taste of how amazing an Olympics could be."

Tom Daley, Diving Olympic bronze medallist said:

“Being selected to represent Team GB at the AYOF in 2007 gave me a real sense of competing in a multi-sport environment, it is a great opportunity to get a taste of the Olympics, from living in an Olympic Village, to competing in front of big crowds and having the HQ support network there to help you. Just one year later I represented Team GB in my first Olympic Games in Beijing. Winning my youth medal inspired me to one day want to win an Olympic medal and in London my dream came true when I won bronze.”

Louis Smith, Gymnastics Olympic silver and double bronze medallist said:

“Going to the 2007 Youth Olympic Festival in Australia was an amazing experience that gave me an opportunity to compete in a multi-sport event, mixing with similar aged athletes from around the world.  It set me up for my World Championship medal later that year as well as helping me to prepare for the Beijing Olympics in the summer of 2008, and ultimately the London 2012 Games where I realised my dreams of medal success in front of my home crowd.  Sunshine in January is awesome and this event is essential for any young athlete that wants to get to the top.”

Jonny Brownlee, Triathlon Olympic bronze medallist said: 

“Winning gold at the Australian Youth Olympics (in 2009) really gave me a lot of confidence. It was my first taste of a big global competition and to be there as part of a big British team was a valuable experience that really helped me. Good luck to the team, and I hope to see some of them in Rio in 2016!”

Georgie Twigg, Hockey Olympic bronze medallist said:

“My AYOF experience was the first time I competed for my country at a multi-sport event and it was such a huge honour. I remember the excitement of being selected, the packing and then the feeling of pride when we pulled on the Team GB vest. It was great to be part of the bigger Team GB, one that included people from different sports. It was great preparation for my Olympic experience this summer.”

Commenting on their selection to compete for Team GB at the 2013 AYOF:

Georgia Hall, Golf, (Bournemouth) said:

“It is a real honour to be one of the very first golfers to represent Team GB. When golf got added to the sport programme for the Rio 2016 Games, I was really excited as it has always been my dream to compete at an Olympics. I’m looking forward to competing to the best of my ability in Australia, and to making many new friends with my teammates from other Olympic sports.”

Zoe Smith, Weightlifting (London) said:

“The London 2012 Games were an incredible experience and I loved every minute of it. The Olympic environment is completely different from other competitions, so I am pleased to have the opportunity to compete in another large multi-sport event so soon after London 2012.

“It is always a proud moment to compete for your country and to do so in an Olympic competition is even more special. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences from London 2012 with my Team GB teammates in Sydney.”

Francesca Del Celo, Diving (Richmond) said:

“Being selected to Team GB for the Youth Olympics is a wonderful opportunity and I am very excited. It has been a fantastic year so far winning gold at the European Junior Championships and I have learned so much from training alongside Olympians such as Tom Daley, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow in Plymouth. I hope to dive to the best of my ability in Sydney and enjoy the whole experience.”

Savannah Wilkinson, Basketball (London) said:

“I’m really looking forward to the whole experience of being in Sydney and being around athletes from other sports. The 3-on-3 game is really fast, skilful and exciting, so hopefully we can entertain the crowd and produce results to be proud of.”

Andy Bull, Hockey (Manchester) said:

“I am really looking forward to playing for Team GB in Sydney. I was privileged to be part of the BOA’s Ambition Programme at the London 2012 Games where I had the opportunity to see first-hand what it is like to be an Olympian. Being there and seeing it first-hand gave me huge motivation and desire to compete at an Olympic Games myself. The AYOF will provide a good opportunity for us to compete against some of the best players in the world at our age group, and show what we can do.”

Sian Bruce, Shooting (Dundee) said:

“I am thrilled to be selected to Team GB for the Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Competing against athletes from all over the world in an Olympic setting is a hugely exciting prospect and I am sure I will gain a great deal from the experience, on and off the field of play. Peter Wilson’s gold medal this summer has shown us what it is possible to achieve and I’m fully focused on doing my best in Sydney.”

Sophie Coldwell, Triathlon (Nottingham) said:

“Being selected for the Youth Olympic Festival means a lot to me and will hopefully be a stepping stone for my future career in international sport. Representing your country is a great honour and I am very happy to be able to do it as part of a big multisport squad. World Champion British triathletes such as the Brownlees and Helen Jenkins are brilliant role models for us and I hope to one day follow in their footsteps.” 

Sam Parsons, Badminton (Coventry) said:

"I am very proud and excited to be selected to represent Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. It will be a really special feeling to put on Team GB kit and compete for my country on the international stage. I was so inspired by what our athletes achieved this summer and I’m determined to achieve my personal best and enjoy the entire experience of playing for Team GB.”

Jamie Copus, Rowing (Wallingford) said:

“I am looking forward to gaining my first experience of a multi-sport environment and the unique atmosphere of living alongside athletes from different sports and many other countries in an Olympic Village. The Youth Olympic Festival is an important step for me on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympics, and beyond. The Team GB rowers at the London 2012 Games this summer were incredible and I hope we can continue the success in Australia.”

George Ramm, (Bolton) Wrestling said:

“I am really delighted to be selected for Team GB. I am sure that the experience I gain at the Youth Olympic Festival will be of great benefit to me going forwards and I plan to make the most of the opportunity. My dream is to one day become an Olympian and compete for Team GB in Rio 2016 or beyond.”

Josh Steel, Basketball (Harlow) said: 

“I am really looking forward to being part of Team GB.  The Olympic Games this summer was a great experience and I can’t wait for the opportunity to be part of Team GB in Sydney.

Tim Jones, Gymnastics Team Leader added:

“On looking back at our tremendous successes throughout the London cycle, the value of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival cannot be underestimated. The corresponding event back in 2009 provided our sport with a fantastic platform for this cycle, and allowed us to expose a significant number of transitioning junior gymnasts who went on to become hugely significant in the senior ranks by the time we reached the 2012 London Olympic Games. We hope that the event this coming January can provide us with a similar springboard to success, and act as an inspiration to the group of gymnasts we have selected".