County's Olympic hopefuls will do us proud
7:38pm Thursday 26th July 2012 in Olympics
- FORMER Summer Fields pupil Lawrence Clarke will be lining up against some big names in the 110m hurdles on August 7.
Incredibly, the 22-year-old only started training in the sport four years ago.
Back at home in Christmas Common his mother Teresa Clarke, pictured, said members of the family would be making their way to London to watch him compete.
She said: “I’m very lucky, I applied for tickets in the original ballot and got tickets for the heats on August 7 and then the semi-finals on August 8 which we hope he will be in.
“We are so proud of him. But it is all Lawrence, it is all because of his focus and dedication.”
Mr Clarke attended the Summer Fields School in Mayfield Road, Summertown, Oxford, before going on to Eton College and Bristol University.
His mum said: “He has been sporty all his life and always willing to try anything, but he was quite small and petite when he was young. He wasn’t in the rugby team.
“But he started hurdling in his final year at senior school and then started training when he was at university.
“He has done fantastically, it really is amazing.”
- Lindsey Maguire from Wallingford does not just have her family and friends behind her – she has her whole rowing club.
The 30-year-old will row for the women’s eights, with the final on August 2.
Club captain Caroline Greves, said: “We’re so proud to have a Wallingford member representing GB at the Olympics.”
They’re really strong contenders for a medal after getting bronze last year at the World Championships and we hope the home support spurs them on.”
Greves will also be rooting for her sister Katie, who lives in Wallingford and is also rowing in the women’s eight.
At the rowing club, sisters Alice and Lucy Walker, aged 16 and 14, said they were excited to watch someone they know competing.
Alice, who rowed in the GB v France match earlier this month, said: “It makes us feel special to be in the same club, having the same coaches and being on the same stretch of water.
The first race for the women’s eight will take place on Sunday.
- Former Windmill Primary, Headington and Cheney School pupil Bryony Shaw was brought up in Oxford, but soon switched the spires for the sea.
The 29-year-old will compete in windsurfing at Weymouth, vying for a gold medal on August 7.
Her mum Hazel, who moved from the family’s home in Oxford to Weymouth a number of years ago, said: “I think the thing about being a parent of an athlete is that they know where you are and how to contact you, so that is enough.
“But she is happy and looking forward to the event, so that is the main thing.”
Miss Shaw, right, who honed her skills on Farmoor Reservoir, won the first ever British windsurfing medal with a bronze at Beijing.
Her mum said: “We just have a little bit of a nervous wait. Luckily I’m volunteering on the media helpdesk at Weymouth so I’ll be keeping myself busy and so is her father, Brian.
Miss Shaw’s competition will start on July 31 and work through heats to the final on August 7.
- Cheering on marathon runner Mara Yamauchi will be her father and biggest fan Norman Myers, 78.
The Headington resident, left, is used to cheering on his children, with his eldest daughter being former world rowing champion Malindi Myers, who was also brought up in Oxford.
He said: “I certainly always encouraged them to participate in sport. When it became apparent they had talent I tried to stand back and let them go at their own pace.
“At sports day, they would win this and then they would win that, I used to try to play it down.
But I am hugely proud. I am proud they see this as sport and are happy as well as being successful.”
The family lived in Kenya until coming to settle in Oxford when Mrs Yamauchi was nine.
Mr Myers, who himself has run 32 marathons, said his daughter had always known what she wanted to do.
Myers will be watching his 38-year-old daughter, who attended Oxford High School, at his home in Headington.
said: “I’ve watched her run around the world and I find that no matter how carefully I choose my position, she runs straight past and I only see her for about 10 seconds.
“It is rather exciting to have a daughter in the Olympics.”
Mrs Yamauchi will compete on August 5.
- Amanda Hopkins, the aunt of rowing cox Caroline O’Connor , (both pictured right) said she was struggling to get hold of her nerves in the run-up to the Olympics.
The 48-year-old, who helped to bring up Miss O’Connor, said: “It is so exciting. This is the culmination of eight years of following her round the world to cups and championships.
“So in a way, the nervousness is eight-fold really.”
Oxford Mail columnist Miss O’Connor, a maths teacher at the Oxford Academy, will compete in the women’s rowing eight. She came to Oxford to study at Oxford Brookes, which is where her love for rowing began.
Ms Hopkins said: “We’ve all got tickets for the rowing days so I’ll be there with my partner Martin, her three sisters and all her close friends.
“Caroline had meningitis just before she went to Oxford Brookes and so was a seven-stone weakling when she started.
“She asked what I thought and I didn’t know really, no one in our family had anything to do with boats or boating sports.”
Her biggest fan has since followed the cox around Europe, to Amsterdam, Munich, Lisbon and then to Beijing in 2008.
Ms Hopkins, who lives in London, added: “She is so dedicated and determined, a real perfectionist.
“We are tremendously proud. But so nervous, the whole country is talking about London and everything is heightened.
“I think I’ll be watching from behind my hands. We are terribly excited.”
Pupils from Oxford Academy will also travel to London to watch their teacher compete.
The first race for the women’s eight is on Sunday with the final on August 2.
- Bob Harrison, from Goosey, near Wantage, has a conflict most other parents do not have – his daughter, triathlete Jessica , will be competing for France.
Ms Harrison, who went to Stanford in the Vale Primary School and St Helen & St Katharine School in Abingdon, started training on the continent after university to give herself the best chance of reaching the top flight.
After a few years of living there, she took on French citizenship and started competing for the country.
Back at home, her dad said: “It is a bit strange but it was all about what Jessica could achieve under the French system of supporting their athletes.
“Here everything is lottery-funded. But in France she has flourished, she might not be where she is today if it wasn’t for that.”
The 34-year-old will compete in London on August 4.
Mr Harrison, pictured, said: “It is quite amazing really. She went to Beijing but to be competing in London is special.
“I’m more nervous than I was four years ago, I’ll be there watching through clenched hands I think.”
She is a pretty single-minded young woman. It is such hard work, it is a full time job for 50 weeks of the year and it is quite amazing to see her compete.”
- The father of 1,500m runner Hannah England said the family had mixed feelings going into the Olympics.
The 25-year-old Oxford City athlete has had a rocky run-up to her Olympic dream after being laid off for six weeks with an achilles injury.
Back at home in North Oxford, her dad Phillip said: “Hannah is training hard and she is running so she is likely to compete but this was a serious injury.
“But she is very professional, very focused and she is somehow managing to be cheerful and optimistic about the games, training religiously.”
The world silver medallist was born in Oxford and went to the Cherwell School in Summertown, North Oxford.
She joined Oxford City Athletic Club in their under 13s group and won silver at the World Championships last year.
Mr England said: “We’ll be there in London to see her and we’ll be rooting for her. I’m happy for her being able to compete in London.”
Miss England’s first race will be on August 6.