Meet the Team GB Athletes Whose Stories You Need to Know Ahead of the 2024 Olympics

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The Paris 2024 Olympics are on their way. And no matter how much you are or aren’t feeling the buzz right now, we predict that come the summer, it’s all that anyone is going to be talking about.

The Summer Olympics take place between July 26 and August 11, so we’d suggest getting your viewing parties booked in asap for the hopes of another Team GB Super Saturday, or Sunday… or any day. Team GB is still being finalised, but there are some incredible medal prospects that are likely to head out onto the track, field, pool and more come July. And even more than that, there are some incredible stories too.

So, to get your anticipation building, we’ve picked out some of the stories and women you’re going to be obsessed with come this summer…

Penny Healey, 19, archery

Healey will be Team GB’s youngest archer in Paris when she makes her Olympic debut, a decade after she was first inspired to take up the sport by the Disney movie Brave , in which the lead character, Merida, is a skilled archer.

An animal-lover, Healey has a variety of pets, ranging from the conventional dogs to the far less ordinary chickens, a tortoise, a chinchilla and even an emu named Freddy.

She credits archery with helping her through the social isolation and subsequent anxiety she suffered during the Covid lockdown.

Healey says: “When I was about eight or nine, I was doing horse riding and thought it would be cool to do archery on the back of a horse. Then I had to stop horse riding, because it was too expensive. So, I got into archery instead. It was love at first sight.”

Isabelle Thorpe, 23, and Kate Shortman, 22, artistic swimming

Britain have never won an artistic swimming (formerly known as synchronised swimming) medal, but Isabelle Thorpe and Kate Shortman made the World Championship podium last year so have their sights set on becoming the first.

The pair made their Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, completing a remarkable journey for best friends whose relationship began when they first started swimming together around the age of seven. Even more incredibly, both their mothers were also competition partners when they represented the British team decades earlier.

Shortman says: “Artistic swimming is an amazing opportunity if you’re creative and you’re artistic. It’s such an original sport. It’s just like dancing in a pool, I guess, and to me that’s what I loved about it and what I still love about it now.”

Bianca Williams, 30, ahtletics

If Williams qualifies to compete in Paris (which will be confirmed later in the summer) she will almost certainly be the only mum on the British athletics team.

The sprinter has competed for Britain over 100m, 200m and 4x100m for more than a decade and has returned stronger than ever after giving birth to her son Zuri in 2020, clocking a 200m personal best last year.

She has been a vocal critic of racial profiling after she was involved in a controversial stop-and-search incident alongside her boyfriend and baby in 2020, which resulted in a number of the police officers concerned losing their jobs.

Williams says: “Now I’m a mum, everything is different. [Children] really look up to you, they repeat what you say, they repeat what you do, so I definitely want to be the best person for Zuri to look up to and to be a good role model for other young girls to look up to and think: ‘Wow, she’s done this, she’s done that, she can do anything.'”

Charley Davison, 30, boxing

Davison started boxing while still at primary school but took a seven-year break from the sport when she was 19 to start a family. She returned after giving birth to three children and was fast-tracked to compete for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics.

Three years on, she is now a medal candidate in what will be her last shot at an Olympic medal before she hopes to turn professional.

Davison says: “Someone asked me if I would prefer to be known as The Boxing Mum rather than just another fighter or mother. I just thought: ‘Yeah, I really like that.’ That’s what gives me the drive. That’s what I think about all the time – my kids and boxing. Before I get into that ring all I think about is them three children.”

Related: Meet the Team GB Twins Set to go For Olympic Gold Together

Evie Richards, 27, cycling (mountain bike)

The world and Commonwealth champion is hoping to add an Olympic medal to her haul after the disappointment of finishing seventh at the Tokyo Games.

In the quest for sporting perfection in the early days of career, she developed an unhealthy food obsession and, through a combination of over-training and under-fuelling, was diagnosed with RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), which resulted in the loss of her menstrual cycle for a number of years. She is now an outspoken advocate for healthy eating in sport.

Richards says: “I cut out a lot of food groups, which I’d created in my head, such as any white food. I wouldn’t eat anything with sugar in it, including a lot of fruit, and I remember I was always hungry. Even going to bed, all that I could think about was what I was going to eat in the morning. Food saturated so much of my thinking state.”

Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, 19, diving

For much of her life, Spendolini-Sirieix has lived in the shadow of her dad Fred, best known as the maitre d’ on First Dates and various other hospitality-related TV programmes.

However, she is fast making a name for herself in diving and could become the first British woman ever to win an individual Olympic diving medal after picking up world, European and Commonwealth titles.

Despite her success, she has battled mental blocks that have periodically prevented her from physically being able to dive and almost caused her to quit the sport.

Spendolini-Sirieix says: “It’s very nice to see my name in the newspaper, not just ‘Fred’s daughter’. I feel like finally people are seeing me as someone away from my dad. I can never part from him. He’s half of me. I’m very proud of what he does and he is very proud of me. But it’s good to be a bit more of an individual.”

Amber Rutter, 26, shooting

Rutter was a gold-medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics only to be banned from boarding the flight to Japan under strict medical protocols when she was diagnosed with Covid the day before departure.

She now has her sights set on belatedly winning an Olympic medal in Paris, despite the event taking place three months after she is due to give birth. She plans to return to training in June, with a first competition tentatively scheduled for the end of that month.

Rutter says: “I know people are going to think I’m stupid for what I’m doing and the time frame that I’ve given myself. I know people may not understand the idea that I’m an Olympian and winning a gold medal isn’t everything to me now. But, at the end of the day, it’s my life, and I just want to be happy with the choices that I make.”

Eva Okaro, 17, swimming

Okaro will become the first black woman to represent Team GB in the pool, following in the slipstream of Alice Dearing, who was GB’s first black female swimmer when she competed in the open water at the Tokyo Games.

Okaro grew up swimming with her twin sister Izabella and began setting British records aged just 14.

Her parents are of Polish and Nigerian descent, and she was spotted by the long-time coach of triple Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty.

Okaro says: “Safety and fun – that’s where it all began for me. Swimming’s a key life skill you have to learn. It saves lives and everyone should learn it.”

Emily Campbell, 29, weightlifting

Campbell became Team GB’s first ever Olympic weightlifting medalist when she claimed silver at the Tokyo Games.

Competing in the heaviest category at 87+kg, Campbell is passionate about dispelling preconceived ideas around the conventional image of elite sportswoman. She litters her Instagram posts with hashtags like #plussizefitness, #bigisbeautiful, #girlswholift, and is vocal about making fitness and sport accessible to women of all body shapes and sizes.

Campbell says: “Someone will put up a video of you competing and people will comment, ‘did fatty win?’ or ‘look at the state of her’. If you don’t bring value to my life then your opinion isn’t valid to me. I’m lucky that I know who I am, I believe in who I am and I’m confident in that. But I’m trying to be a voice for people who do get affected.”

Ben Bloom is a freelance writer who began his journalism career as a local news reporter before focusing on sport in 2012. He spent 11 years at The Telegraph, where he wrote on a wide range of sports, leading the paper’s coverage at three Olympic Games. His work saw him nominated for a British Sports Journalism Award.

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