As the build-up to the Rio Olympic Games enters the home stretch, 2016 promises to be a monumental year of sport. Here are 10 British sportsmen and women who could flourish over the next 12 months.
10 – Becky James (Cycling):
Since becoming a double world champion in 2013, Becky James has overcome an unthinkable period of setbacks. The development of pre-cancerous cells within her cervix, followed by a complex knee injury, saw her off the track for an agonising amount of time. However, after returning to the world stage, James has her eyes firmly set on Rio.
9 – Chris Mears (Diving):
The 22-year-old will arrive in Rio off the back of securing a bronze medal at the World Championships. In 2009, Mears contracted a virus which resulted in the rupture of his spleen and later suffered a seizure which resulted in a three-day coma. However despite this, the diver has defied all odds and will eagerly anticipate competing in Brazil.
8 – Amber Hill (Shooting):
Amber Hill has continued to impress ever since winning the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2013, and she is one of six travelling to Rio as part of the Great Britain shooting squad. Hill had an extremely successful 2015 which saw her crowned European Champion and is a very promising prospect ahead of the Summer Games.
7 – Adam Gemili (Athletics):
The sprinter’s hopes of winning a medal at the World Championships were dismantled after suffering from a hamstring injury at the Birmingham Grand Prix in June. However on his return from injury, Gemili equalled his personal best in magnificent fashion, finishing with a time of 6.59 seconds and so the next year could prove one to remember.
6 – Scott Giles (Sailing):
After missing out on a place at the 2012 Olympics due to a certain Sir Ben Ainslie, Scott Giles could be a name to appear on the podium this summer in Rio. The 28-year-old is looking very impressive as the competition draws nearer after winning his third World title in New Zealand during November.
5 – Anthony Joshua (Boxing):
The next year is likely to prove pivotal within the boxer’s career. Joshua won by a seventh round KO against Dillian Whyte in his most recent clash and this proved to be his first true test since turning professional and one which saw his record go to 15 fights, 15 knockouts. Tougher tests inevitably await Joshua as he strives towards the top of the Heavyweight division.
4 – Max Whitlock (Gymnastics):
Whitlock became the first British male to win gold at the World Gymnastics Championships, after narrowly defeating team-mate Louis Smith, as Britain recorded a stunning one-two. This victory was made even greater as it saw the 23-year-old bounce back from a disastrous fall off the high bar just one day earlier and this experience will undoubtedly leave him in good stead for Rio.
3 – Dele Alli (Football):
After being so heavily touted as ‘one for the future’, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli is now proving just as much one for the present. The 19-year-old has been one of the star performers within the Premier League this season and appears to be consolidating a place in Roy Hodgson’s plans for the European Championships in France.
2 – Adam Peaty (Swimming):
Something very special seems to be simmering within British swimming. Adam Peaty dominated in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke world titles in Russia last year, in addition to leading Great Britain to gold in the mixed medley, and at just 21 years of age is without question one to watch during 2016.
1 – Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Heptathlon):
Heptathlon seems to be Britain’s surest bet of a medal or perhaps two in Rio. After a disastrous World Championships in Beijing last year in which she recorded three fouls, the Liverpudlian has returned with a vengeance and rates her chances of a medal highly this summer. This could be the Games in which the baton is passed onto her from the soon-to-be retiring Jessica Ennis-Hill.