The Stars of Rio?

There is no question where the young darlings of the London Games were born. The swimming pool hosted three teenagers who could well dominate women’s’ swimming for over a decade. China’s Ye Shiwen won two gold medals at the tender age of sixteen in the 200 and 400 metre medley events, but her freestyle leg in the 400 was actually faster than men’s’ Olympic medley champion Ryan Lochte’s.

Naturally, the Chinese broke the world record, which led to, outlandish and unsubstantiated claims of drug use. Shiwen may broaden her range and go for more than two golds in Rio in 2016. Even younger than Shiwen at the age of fifteen, Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte, won the 100m breaststroke, coming from virtually nowhere in the swimming world to take gold, while America’s Missy Franklin, the veteran of the trio at seventeen, racked up four gold medals.

The greatest rivalry to emerge from these Games will surely be that of Grenada’s Kirani James and the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos. James, 19, and Santos, 18, won gold and silver respectively and must surely look to battle for hegemony in toughest of all track events – the 400 metres. James in particular is some prospect, with Michael Johnson claiming that the Grenadian could yet beat his long-standing world record of 43.18 seconds because James is running on natural talent alone. Watch this space.

On the British front Tom Daley has shown that he is capable of medalling on the greatest of all stages and will look to Rio to improve the quality of metal on his mantelpiece. On the track Adam Gemili showed promise in just missing out on the 100-metre final. Gemili, originally a footballer at Dagenham and Redbridge, narrowly missed out on the greatest final of all time at eighteen and will hope to improve for Rio. Gemili is the fastest man in the world under the age of 21 after clocking 10.05 in Barcelona earlier this year and becoming world junior champion.

Of course we cannot mention Britain without mentioning the Velodrome or ‘the Medal Factory’ as one national newspaper termed it. 19-year-old Philip Hindes led out a victorious team sprint trio featuring multiple gold medallists Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny under the weight of immense pressure and expectation and will no doubt look to both team and individual gold in Rio.

Will Cook


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