Future stars chosen to represent Team GB at Olympic Festival

02 July 2013 / 11:00

The British Olympic Association (BOA) announced today the athletes selected to represent Team GB at the 12th European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Utrecht, Netherlands, from 14th-19th July.

The race to Rio and the 2016 Olympic Games is already a year old and may prove a bridge too far for most of Team GB’s young athletes, but the EYOF will play a vital role in helping them along the road towards achieving their Olympic dreams.

Team GB consists of 44 athletes aged 12-17 years old who will compete in cycling, gymnastics, judo, swimming and tennis. They will test themselves against more than 2300 of the finest young sportspeople from 48 other countries across the continent.

For most of the team this represents their first experience of an international multi-sport environment and they will all be hoping to emulate the likes of Rebecca Adlington and Sam Oldham, who went from the EYOF podium to medal success at the Olympic Games.

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

For further information on Team GB and the EYOF in Utrecht, visit our event page here.

The cycling team includes Grace Garner (Leicester) and Abby-Mae Parkinson (Liversedge), both of whom have a strong family pedigree in elite cycling. They will be joined by four other riders to compete in road race and time trial events for both boys and girls. Utrecht sees a girls’ road race held for the first time, so can Team GB’s riders take inspiration from Lizzie Armitstead’s silver medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games and further exert Britain’s dominance in road cycling?

Team GB’s gymnasts come into EYOF on the back of a successful Australian Youth Olympic Festival, returning with nine of the available 14 golds, and 24 medals in total. Nile Wilson (Leeds), Amy Tinkler (Bishop Auckland) and Ty Mattis (Tottenham) were responsible for 13 of those medals, including six golds, and have high hopes of maintaining their success in Utrecht.

Twelve young judokas will travel to the Netherlands inspired by Team GB’s best result at an Olympic Games in 20 years as Gemma Gibbons and Karina Bryant fought their way to silver and bronze respectively at London 2012. The team have just returned from Estonia with a haul of three bronze medals from the European Cadets Championships and the team’s oldest representative, Michelle Boyle (Carluke), only qualifies to compete in Utrecht by five days.

In the pool there will be a 16-strong contingent of Team GB swimmers including Nico Campbell (Cheshunt), Luke Gunning (Orpington) and Laura Stephens (Wix) who all swam in the London 2012 Olympic trials held at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park. Adlington returned home from EYOF 2003 in Paris with two silver medals and five years later in Beijing she turned them to gold. All 16 of Team GB’s swimmers are sure to be inspired by her achievements and eager to begin their own path to success.

On the tennis courts of Utrecht Team GB will have four representatives. The number two national ranked girls in their respective age groups, Eden Richardson (Ellesmere Port) and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (Sonning), compete in both the singles and doubles and will be joined by Thomas Wright (Beckenham) and Harry Simpson (Hull) to complete the team.

Team GB’s Chef de Mission in the Netherlands will be double Olympic sailing champion Sarah Gosling, who will be supported by deputy Chefs de Mission Mahdi Choudhury and Louise Whitehead. Gosling and her team aim to create the ideal environment for success as Team GB look to maintain the high standards set at previous Festivals – in the 22-year history of EYOF, Team GB has never finished lower than sixth in the medal table, and no lower than third in the last four Festivals.

Sarah Gosling, Team GB Chef de Mission, said:

“There has never been a better time to be a young athlete in Britain. Utrecht is the third Youth Olympic event Team GB will have been to in 2013, demonstrating the BOA’s dedication to developing and nurturing British Olympic talent for the Rio 2016 Games and beyond.

“Multi-sport events like EYOF play a crucial role in young athletes’ development, not only as a sportsperson but also as a person in general. They give athletes the opportunity to experience life in an Olympic Village, to mix with athletes from different nations and to learn about the pressures of competing in a multi-sport environment.

“The EYOF has proved a valuable stepping stone for the careers of many young British athletes in the past and our goal is to continue that process in Utrecht.”

Team leaders from each sport on their involvement in Utrecht:

Stuart Blunt (Manchester), cycling, said:

“The EYOF is a fantastic opportunity for young athletes to learn about Olympic competition and the multi-sport environment. The success British Cycling has had at elite level is down to events like this, the experience our riders gain when they are young is so valuable. Last year we saw Peter Kennaugh win team pursuit gold at the London Olympic Games after racing at the 2005 edition in Lignano, and now he’s making his Tour de France debut.”

Barry Collie (Halifax), gymnastics, said:

"We go to EYOF with a very strong line-up of junior gymnasts. Earlier this year, in Sydney, we showed that Team GB was a force to be reckoned with, taking on the Chinese and being successful. The experience of competing for Team GB in a multi-sport environment is invaluable. We travel with high hopes of success and expectations of medal winning performances which will further assist these gymnasts’ competition preparation as they look ahead to Rio 2016 and beyond.”

Matt Divall (Bracknell), judo, said:

“All our competitors have just come back from the European Cadets Championships in Estonia where we were successful in winning three bronze medals. We’ve also had success in the European Cadets Cup this year which shows the more experience our juniors can have competing against the best in Europe, the more our results improve.”

Mark Perry (Northampton), swimming, said:

“We have a history of winning lots of medals in swimming at EYOF and long may that continue. Some of our most successful swimmers in recent years have raced at a Youth Olympic Festival including Rebecca Adlington, Liam Tancock and David Davies – that’s six Olympic medals, three world titles and three world records just between them. We have selected the best of what Britain has to offer and they all have bright futures ahead of them.”

Damien Roberts (New Malden), tennis, said:

“Tennis has major events of its own but the Olympics are something very special, so for our four young players to experience a European Youth Olympic Festival is great for them. They get the experience of competing for their country as well, which you don’t get that often in tennis, so the five days will be a new and valuable experience for them.”

Competing athletes on their selection for Team GB in Utrecht:

Joe Holt (Llanelli), cycling, said:

“I can’t wait to get to the Netherlands and get racing, the Dutch are cycling-mad so I hope the crowds will come out to cheer everyone on. My first Olympic memory is Nicole Cooke crossing the line to win Team GB’s first gold medal at Beijing 2008. That memory has stayed with me and having been selected to compete in Utrecht it is something I hope to be able to emulate one day.”

Abby-Mae Parkinson (Liversedge), cycling, said:

“It feels great to be selected for Team GB for the European Youth Olympic Festival. My mum is an Olympian so now to be able to say I will have competed at an Olympic event is amazing. I made my debut in the Netherlands so it’ll be nice to go back there, and the Dutch love their cycling so the atmosphere should be great. And I’d love to meet the Dutch Olympic Champion Marianne Vos, hopefully she’ll be there!”

Ty Mattis (Tottenham), gymnastics, said:

“I’ve had a fantastic year so far with my medals in Australia and then winning the British junior women’s title as well, I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Nile Wilson (Leeds), gymnastics, said:

“Having been successful for Team GB in Australia earlier in the year it has given me a real taste for Olympic competition and I’m so proud to have been selected for the EYOF. Britain is really starting to become a force in world gymnastics and I want to be a part of that, the more experience I can get in fantastic Olympic events like this, the better my development as a gymnast will be.”

Stuart McWatt (Edinburgh), judo, said:

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be selected for Team GB, I haven’t stopped smiling since I heard. I think it’s going to be brilliant competing in Utrecht surrounded by so many other young athletes, you don’t experience that when it’s just a judo competition. I used to do gymnastics when I was younger so it will be nice to meet our gymnasts and all do our best for Team GB.”

Jodie Caller (Northampton), judo, said:

“I went to London to watch the Olympics last year and I’ve never experienced anything like it, so to get the chance to compete in an Olympic Festival myself is amazing. I went to the European Champs in 2012 and I just won a bronze in this year’s competition. This will be my first time at an international multi-sport event. I’m really looking forward to meeting all the other people from the different sports.”

Laura Stephens (Wix), swimming, said:

“The Olympics are where every young athlete aspires to be so I feel very privileged to have been selected to represent Team GB in Utrecht. I got my first taste of the Olympics when I swam in the trials for London 2012 in the Aquatics Centre and the EYOF will be another great experience for me as I develop as a swimmer and learn what I need to do to make an Olympic Games one day.”

Suleman Butt (Aberdeen), swimming, said:

“There’s a history of swimmers doing well at EYOF and going on to the Olympics and winning there too. Becky Adlington has done it for Britain and to have Pieter van den Hoogenband, who did it for the Netherlands, organising the whole event in Utrecht it really shows what a launchpad a Youth Festival can be.”

Eden Richardson (Ellesmere Port), tennis, said:

“Seeing Andy Murray’s emotion after winning the Olympics at Wimbledon last year really showed what an honour and a privilege it is to compete for and represent your country. Being selected to compete for Team GB in Utrecht is my proudest moment as a sportsperson so far and I hope to represent my country many more times in the future.”

Thomas Wright (Beckenham), tennis, said:

“I started playing tennis when I was three and now 11 years later I’ll be representing Team GB at an Olympic Festival, it’s an amazing feeling. I’ve watched the Olympics on TV and went to London 2012 and always wondered what it would be like to be there competing myself, soon I’ll know. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience of the Festival, not just the tennis competition, but living in the Village and meeting athletes from all over Europe.”