Team GB squad to make Tokyo history

Tokyo 2020 is a little over a fortnight away, the full Team GB squad has been announced and history has been made, with the largest ever delegation for an Olympic Games on foreign soil.

Team GB have selected 376 athletes, and a further 22 reserve athletes, to compete across 26 sports in Japan this summer.

Also, for the very first time at a summer Olympic Games, Team GB will have more female than male athletes with 201 women (53.5%) and 175 men (46.5%) – thanks to a combination of impressive qualification performances across sports and an increased number of female events at the Games.

The 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid did see Team GB send a squad of just four women – all figure skaters, including 11-year-old Cecilia Colledge – and no men, while Oslo 1952 had eight male winter athletes to ten female but at Tokyo 2020, Team GB will be female-dominant at a summer Games for the first time.

Team GB’s Chef de Mission Mark England said: “After five years of hard work, our team for Tokyo 2020 is now complete. We have a strong squad of athletes ready to do their country proud and it’s great to welcome our largest travelling British Olympic team ever.

“I am also delighted we will be taking more women than men to a summer Olympic Games. It is a first for Team GB in its 125-year history – 2021 is truly the year of the female Olympian.”

The delegation had initially stood at 373 but the late additions of Paul Drinkhall (table tennis), Katie Reid (canoe sprint) and 800m runner Alexandra Bell (athletics) earlier this week took the number to 376.

Of that squad, 122 are returning Olympians with 254 athletes potentially making their Olympic debut in Tokyo.

And of the 122 who have been here before, 51 already have an Olympic medal in their trophy cabinet and no-one has more golds than six-time champion cyclist Jason Kenny, who is tied with Sir Chris Hoy for the most by any Brit in history.

His wife Laura Kenny is already Team GB’s most successful female Olympic athlete of all-time with four gold medals and will be hunting more in Tokyo.

No British woman has ever won gold medals at three separate Olympic Games yet Kenny, taekwondo player Jade Jones, rower Helen Glover and equestrian star Charlotte Dujardin all have the chance to achieve that feat in Tokyo, after successes at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Glover will become the first British rower to compete at an Olympic Games after becoming a mum, while a Tokyo medal for Hannah Mills at her third Games would make her the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time.

Equestrian competitor, Carl Hester, is the most experienced athlete in the squad – selected for his sixth Olympic Games – and also the oldest member of the squad, having turned 54 in June.

Conversely, Sky Brown was just one month old when Jason Kenny won his first Olympic title at Beijing 2008 but the skateboarding sensation will become Team GB’s youngest-ever summer Olympian when she competes in the women’s park event, only turning 13 years old on July 12.

Brown is part of a two-strong Team GB skateboarding squad, along with 15-year-old Bombette Martin, while Marcus Mepstead (fencing) and Shauna Coxsey, competing in sport climbing on its Olympic debut, are the sole British athletes heading at Tokyo 2020 in their chosen sports.

On the flip side, a squad of 77 will represent Team GB in athletics, while hockey (32) and rowing (41) are among the other sports providing large numbers of competitors.

Tokyo 2020 will also be a family affair as the Team GB contingent includes eight sets of siblings: Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova (gymnastics), Charlotte and Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne (rowing), Emily and Thomas Ford (rowing), Joe and Max Litchfield (swimming), Luke and Pat McCormack (boxing), Tiffany Porter and Cindy Sember (athletics), Hannah and Jodie Williams (athletics), and Adam and Simon Yates (cycling).

The Gadirovas, McCormacks and Yates’ are all twins, while there will be a ninth set of siblings on the plane to Japan, as two-time Olympian Harry Martin – brother of women’s hockey player Hannah Martin – is a reserve for the men’s hockey team.

There is also representation across all four home nations with seven athletes born in Northern Ireland, 18 in Wales and 42 in Scotland.

So, while Tokyo 2020 promises to be one of the most unique Olympic Games in history, the class of 2021 are ready to make their mark.