London 2012: Promising Britons to watch in the Olympics

By Jessica CreightonOlympic sports reporter

BBC Sport singles out six lesser-known talents who could become household names at the London Games.


Daniel Keatings won gold on the pommel horse at the 2010 European Championships, becoming the first British male to win such a title.

Before that, the 21-year-old won a surprise silver medal in the all-around at the 2009 World Championships at the O2 Arena - the venue for gymnastics at the London Games.

Keatings has also shown resilience in the face of adversity, making a comeback after suffering a serious knee injury which kept him out of the sport for over a year.

The Northamptonshire gymnast has returned to training with the World Championships just around the corner and will test his mettle against Huntingdon team-mate and 2008 Olympic pommel horse bronze medallist Louis Smith.


It is not often that the main rival aiming to crush your dream of Olympic gold is your elder brother, but that is exactly the situation for 21-year-old .

He and brother Alistair, 23, are among the best triathletes in the world. Jonny, who has already secured two second places in the World Championship Seriesexternal-link in 2011, is painfully committed to winning gold on his Olympic debut next summer.

On average, Jonny trains over 30 hours a week for 50 weeks of the year. If that schedule was not demanding enough, the 2011 European Championship runner-up is also part-way through a history degree.

He will be a firm favourite to cement his place in Great Britain's six-strong (three men, three women) Olympic triathlon squad by securing a podium place at the forthcoming Hyde Park selection event in early August.


Representing England at all youth levels, Jess Clarke has struck fear into the world's defenders for many years.

The pacy 22-year-old winger made her senior debut in 2009 and went on to net four goals in England's 2011 World Cup qualifying campaign, as well as hitting a spectacular volley in a warm-up match against the United States.

However, it was the finals tournament in Germany where the Lincoln Ladies player exhibited glimpses of the excitement she could bring if she plays for Great Britain at the 2012 Games.

With England being held 1-1 by New Zealand, she came off the bench to score a late winner.

Clarke represents what England have long been missing - bright, young players making the transition from junior level in a squad that has long relied on older, more experienced heads.


The lack of international success in British women's sprinting could be changed by Hertfordshire schoolgirl Jodie Williams.

The 17-year-old has a plethora of accolades at junior level, including the world and European 100m titles, taking the latter crown in a time of 11.18 seconds to break the British junior record.

Her coach Mike McFarlane is keen to protect the young athlete, so opted not to send her to this summer's senior world championships.

Questions will be raised about whether Williams can cope with the pressures of top-level competition, but she proved she has the ability to step up a level at the European Indoor Championships, where she ran a 60m personal best time and missed out on a medal by only one hundredth of a second.


"There's only one person who's capable of beating me [to Olympic gold]" says Leeds-born flyweight Nicola Adams. "That's Ren Can-Can from China, and I've got her number now."

Adams, 28, has boxed her way to third in the world rankings, behind leader Can-Can, gaining an impressive array of major championship experience, winning a European silver medal in 2007, closely followed by world silver medals in 2008 and 2010 and European Union gold this year.

She is part of an elite squad of British amateur female boxers vying for a place in the sport's first appearance in an Olympic Games, battling for the sole 51kg spot with Nina Smith.

Although women's boxing is still finding its feet in Britain, medal chances in all three weight categories are high.


While some may point to the established name of double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington as providing British swimming with its greatest hope of success in 2012, , a sprint-swim specialist, must not be overlooked.

The 21-year old freestyle and butterfly expert won five medals at the 2010 European Championships, including gold in the 100m freestyle, more than any British female had managed before.

Halsall then added the Commonwealth 50m butterfly title to her collection and, despite missing winter training due to ankle surgery, she returned at the British Championships in March and clocked a world leading time in the 100m freestyle.

The A-level philosophy student is ranked inside the world's top six swimmers in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly events, which, when you include the team relays, means she could compete in five events in London.

No British swimmer has ever won more than two medals at an Olympic Games, so Halsall could have the chance to achieve something very special indeed.

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