London 2012 stars represent Liverpool

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Liverpool may not be staging any Olympic events at this Games, but the city is more than doing its bit to get involved in London 2012.

While the region hosted the torch relay, nearly 6,000 schoolchildren from Merseyside set a new world record when they formed the Olympic rings on Crosby Beach.

Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney topped the bill at the end of the opening ceremony, and Liverpool has sent a host of the nation’s best athletes to the Olympics.

JMU Journalism profiles those who are going for gold at London 2012.

Andrew Baddeley, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Anyika Onuora and Michael Rimmer

Athletics
Four competitors will represent Merseyside in athletics, which begins on Friday August 3rd: Andrew Baddeley, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Anyika Onuora and Michael Rimmer.

Running the 1500m for the second time at the Olympics, following a ninth-place finish at Beijing in 2008, 30-year-old Baddeley will start his claim for a medal on Friday.

Johnson-Thompson and Onuora will also be in action on the opening day of athletics, with the former – who starts a Sports Science degree at LJMU in September – participating in the heptathlon, and the latter aiming for success in the 100 and 200 metres.

Rimmer’s bid for glory does not get underway until Monday August 6th, when the 800m event begins. Another JMU student, the 26-year-old will be hoping to improve on his performance in Beijing four years ago, when he reached the semi-finals.

Jo Leedham

Basketball
Born in Ellesmere Port but currently living in Australia, Jo Leedham is returning home for the London Olympics. A regular for England and Great Britain since starting out as a junior, Leedham will be a central figure as the Team GB women’s basketball selection go in search of a medal. The basketball events kick off on Saturday July 28th, with medals decided on the final two days of the competition.

GB boxers Natasha Jonas and Tom Stalker

Boxing
We went toe-to-toe with Liverpool boxer Natasha Jonas as she prepared for her Olympics bid and the lightweight told us: “The way you’re getting excited now, that’s how I felt when I started out, and that’s why I’m still here.” One of only three female British boxers heading to the Games, where the sport makes its debut, Jonas will first pull on her gloves on Sunday August 5th.

Merseyside also has interest in the men’s ring, with light welterweight Tom Stalker due to fight on Sunday July 29th. We had a chat with the Liverpool native at the beginning of the year and the Scouser told JMU Journalism how London 2012 will be his swansong as an amateur. “By the time the Olympics arrives I’d have been on the GB team for five years and I’ve won medals in everything I’ve competed in,” the Salisbury ABC boxer said.

“There’s nothing left for me to stay in the amateur ranks for and I feel I’ve served Team GB well, so the next step for me is to turn professional. Every interview I’ve done, if I’d have said I want to win that gold medal it would put a lot of pressure on me, so I’m just going to be in the best possible condition that I can be and fingers crossed that I can win the gold.”

Lucy Martin

Cycling
The success of Liverpool FC supporter Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France has brought cycling to the forefront building up to the Games, and there will be a budding star to cheer come Sunday July 29th as 22-year-old Lucy Martin, from Cheshire, will compete in the cycling road race with a view to gaining experience, given she is the youngest of GB’s cycling entrants.

Craig Bellamy, Jill Scott, Fara Williams and Rachel Brown

Football
Liverpool FC’s Craig Bellamy had the honour of scoring the first Olympics goal for Team GB on the eve of the opening ceremony in a 1-1 draw against Senegal. Welshman Bellamy will come up against Anfield team-mates Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates, who both featured as the South Americans began their journey with a 2-1 win over UAE, in the final group game when GB face Uruguay in Cardiff on Wednesday August 1st. The final will take place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 11th.

Everton Ladies have three players in the Team GB women’s squad as Jill Scott, Fara Williams and Rachel Brown represent the hosts, who beat New Zealand 1-0 in their opening match. The trio face two more group games, against Cameroon and Brazil, before a likely quarter-final on Friday August 3rd.

Gymnasts Beth Tweddle and Daniel Purvis

Gymnastics
LJMU graduate Beth Tweddle is flying the flag for our university as Britain’s most successful ever gymnast, having won three world and five European titles. Beth, who has a degree in Sports Science from Liverpool John Moores University, is hoping to add the Olympic title to her list of honours in London before she retires. She told JMU Journalism: “Obviously one goal I still have is 2012. I’ve got every other title to my name apart from an Olympic medal. I’m not fussy, any colour medal will do.”

Joining Beth in the gymnastics team, and sharing her ambitions of bringing home a medal, is 21-year-old Daniel Purvis. A rising star of the discipline, having been ranked the world’s No1 across all apparatus last year, Purvis is in action immediately on Saturday July 28th.

Chris McDermott

Handball
Chris McDermott may play domestic handball in Iceland with club Afturelding, but the 23-year-old hails from Birkenhead. McDermott was one of 14 men selected to represent Team GB in the handball event at the Olympics, having represented his country at every level. He will begin his campaign for a medal with his team on July 29th against France, as the Brits line up in Group A, which will also feature some familiar faces for Chris in the Iceland squad.

Swimmers Francesca Halsall and Michael Rock

Swimming
One of the city’s brightest hopes for a medal is swimmer Fran Halsall who, despite still being just 22 now, competed in six events at Beijing 2008 and will take on five this time around (50m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay). An experienced competitor who has won medals at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, Halsall would be disappointed to return home empty-handed.

Law graduate Michael Rock once beat USA superstar Michael Phelps and specialises in the butterfly discipline. The 25-year-old has been representing Great Britain since 2003 and can build on his experience in Beijing when takes to the pool on Monday July 30th.

Martin Stamper

Taekwondo
Martin Stamper was first introduced to Taekwondo aged six and now, 20 years on, he is preparing to represent Great Britain at the 68kg weight. The Liverpudlian was a bronze-medalist at the European Championships earlier this year, which booked his place in London. He would dearly love to repeat the trick when his campaign kicks off on Thursday August 9th.