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On the hunt for medals

PUBLISHED: 17:49 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013

On the hunt for medals

On the hunt for medals

Hertfordshire has plenty of Olympic hopefuls who are aiming to bring back medals from the London 2012 games. Here Damion Roberts looks at just three of the county's competitors and considers their chances at next year's competition...


Two sport stars new to the Olympics are athlete Jodie Williams and England and Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere, and both will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of cyclist Victoria Pendleton who won gold last time out at the Beijing Olympics.


Who: Victoria Pendleton, 31, Stotfold
Event: Cycling


Background:


Pendleton, who began grass track cycling with her twin brother Alex before the age of 13, was talent spotted at 16 by assistant national track team coach Marshall Thomas whilst she was at Fearnhill School in Letchworth Garden City. To list her achievements would take an entire page in itself but Pendleton is a current Olympic individual sprint champion and also has eight World Championships gold medals to her name.


2012 chances?


The Great Britain cycling team was the talk of the Games last time out certainly in this country and alongside Chris Hoy, Pendleton was the face of the team. The 31-year-old may have suffered a dip in form during her last two major tournaments as she lost both her World and Commonwealth titles but that should not fool her detractors. The golden girl of Beijing is still hot property and a favourite to medal on home soil.


Did you know?


Pendleton expects to hang up her bicycle pump after the London Olympics when she also plans to marry fianc Scott Gardner, a 36-year-old performance scientist who works with athletes to improve their form The couple met in 2006.





Who: Jack Wilshere, 19, Hitchin
Event: Football



Background:


The teenage sensation has already been called up to the England national side under Fabio Capello and is seen as the future of Englands midfield.


There have been many next big thing labels applied to English footballers over the past 10 years, but none have as much natural talent as Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. The Hitchin prodigy still only 19 cemented his place in the centre of midfield for his club last season when he was also named the PFA Young Player of the Year.


2012 chances?


With Great Britain set to field a football side at the 2012 Olympics, it has yet to be decided whether Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be contributing players. Yet even if they do, none of those nations has a player as talented as Wilshere.


Did you know?


The Arsenal midfielder also has Euro 2012 to contend with next summer if England qualify but has already said he would be interested in playing for a GB XI should the call-up come. England face tough competition from the likes of Argentina and African nations such as Nigeria, but a medal place is not unrealistic.





Who: Jodie Williams, 17, Welwyn Garden City
Event: Athletics



Background:


Williams not only wins the event in a personal best time of 11:18, which is a championship record, but she obliterates her competition. Add to that her IAAF World Youth Championship 100m and 200m titles, and expectations are rightly high for the sprinter.


If you want to know why the GB team has high hopes for Jodie Williams, just take a look at the video of her winning this summers European Junior Championships 100m final on YouTube.


2012 chances?


It is no wonder, considering her recent junior success, why the Herts Phoenix athlete is held in such high esteem by those in the know. The athlete, who is still studying for her A levels, made her senior GB debut at the European Indoor Championships in March where she finished fourth in the 60m final, and although next years Olympics may have come a little early for the Welwyn GC sprinter few doubt that she has the talent to push for world titles in years to come.


Did you know?


You will never see Williams taking on the indoors pole vault the athlete has a dislike of both heights and enclosed spacesas well as Marmite!

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