British invaders are coming en masse29 September 2008
The head of the British Olympic Association, Lord Colin Moynihan, is sending a small army of athletes to compete in next year’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) in Sydney.
Speaking in Sydney today, Lord Moynihan announced he is sending his biggest team ever, over 200 athletes and officials, to the AYOF in January as Britain prepares to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
They will be among 1800 athletes from around the globe competing in 21 sports at the Festival from 14th – 18th January.
Great Britain's expected 207 athletes will be the fourth largest Team behind Australia (604), New Zealand (311) and China (293). 2009 will be Great Britain’s second appearance at the Festival. They sent a team of 108 athletes and 53 officials in 2007. They will compete in 14 sports.
Eight athletes from the 2007 AYOF competed for Team GB at the Beijing Olympics.
Tom Lucy won a silver medal as part of the men’s rowing eight and Louis Smith won bronze in gymnastics. Thomas Daley at the age of 14 competed in the Diving 10m platform and 10m synchronised platform. He qualified for the finals in both events and achieved a ranking of 7th and 8th respectively. He was just 12 years of age when he competed in the 2007 AYOF.
The Festival has become an important development event for GBR’s young athletes as they seek selection in the 2012 Olympic Games on their home soil.
Since its inception in 2001 the AYOF has also produced a long list of Australian Olympians who have excelled against the best of the best. Of the 435 Australian athletes who competed at the Beijing Olympics 72 were graduates of the AYOF program = 17% of the total team. They won 22 medals – 5 Gold, 6 Silver & 11 Bronze = 48% of the total medal haul.
Of the 72 athletes
i. 45% participated in the 2001 AYOF (note, there were a higher number of Australian participants in the inaugural Festival).
ii. 26% in 2003
iii. 22% in 2005
iv. 7% in 2007
Gold medal highlights include:
v. Emma Snowsill – Triathlon
vi. Matthew Mitcham – Diving
vii. Scott Brennan – Rowing Double Scull
viii. Jessicah Schipper – Swimming
ix. Lara Davenport & Kylie Palmer – Swimming relay
Other Olympians to emerge from the AYOF include, Anna Meares, Sally McLellan, Cate Campbell, Dani Samuels, Travis Nederpelt, Melissa Wu and Jared Tallent.