The 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio, run from 5th to 21st August.
Rio 2016 will be an unmissable event, with record numbers of sports and participants.
There are to be more than 10,500 athletes taking part. Including Team GB stars working towards medals in 28 sports and 41 individual disciplines.
Each of those 10,500 athletes will have their own impressive back story – the story of their journey to Rio. Whilst there are some big names competing, including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Bradley Wiggins. There are also many athletes that you might not have heard of.
Becoming an Olympic athlete is no easy feat. It takes years of dedication and commitment. Some athletes will be participating for the first time in their 30s. Whilst others are breaking records as particularly young competitors.
The youngest athlete in the Rio 2016 Olympics will be 16-year-old gymnast Amy Tinkler. Whilst the oldest is 61-year-old showjumper John Whitaker. Between, more than 10,000 competitors will be working as hard as possible to win in their respective disciplines. Individually or as part of a team.
Whilst every competitor is worthy of attention, here are five Team GB stars to look out for in the Rio Olympics this year:
Team GB Stars: Tsegai Tewelde
Tsegai Tewelde was born in Eritrea, which is in the Horn of Africa and gets bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Dijbouti.
In 2008, Tewelde travelled to Great Britain. To compete in the World Cross Country Championships.
Tewelde sought political asylum whilst in Great Britain, and now lives in Scotland.
In the 2016 London Marathon, Tsegai Tewelde was the second British runner to finish, at a time of 2:12:23. He was in 12th position. And qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which will be his first experience of the Olympics.
Tsegai Tewelde’s personal life
Tewelde’s personal story is an inspiring one. In 1998, at the age of 8, he got injured in a land mine explosion. The same land mine killed his friend, and left Tewelde with significant scarring.
In 2008, Tsegai was in a team of six from Eritrea taking part in the World Cross Country Championships. The event took place in March 2008, with the Eritrean team underperforming.
Just 18 years old, Tewelde feared returning to his home country for mandatory conscription. Along with his teammates, he left Edinburgh and travelled to Glasgow. Under the cover of darkness. In Glasgow, he sought asylum at a local police station.
Now 26 years old, Tsegai Tewelde has a strong career in athletics both behind him and ahead of him. Running has certainly changed his life. Enabling him to visit Great Britain in 2008, and to now call GB his home.
Following his first ever marathon in April, Tewelde is one to watch at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Team GB Stars: Tim Shuttleworth
One of the younger Team GB stars, Tim Shuttleworth was born in April 1997.
The 19-year-old got crowned 1500m freestyle champion at the 2016 British Swimming Championships. But his time of 14:55:23 was just 0.12 seconds short of automatic Rio qualification. With British Swimming setting their qualification time at 14:55:11.
Despite missing the automatic qualification time, Tim Shuttleworth had performed well enough. To get considered for a place within Team GB. This personal best time earned him his ticket to Rio.
Tim Shuttleworth’s Personal Life
As one of the younger Olympics competitors, Tim Shuttleworth is balancing his training for Rio. With a Geography education at Loughborough University. He has just completed his first year of university study. And was one of five swimmers from the university to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
What makes Shuttleworth’s story interesting is, before competing in the 2016 British Swimming Championships, he had been unheard of. During this event he beat his personal best by 20 seconds, which is an incredible feat in itself.
Tim Shuttleworth is one to watch at the 2016. Because he is particularly focused on proving himself. Tim wants to show that he is not just there to make up the numbers on the team, but to be an important part of it.
Team GB Stars: Sonia Samuels
Despite a long list of athletic achievements. Going back to 1997. Sonia Samuels will be taking part in her first Olympic event during Rio 2016.
Sonia’s earliest achievements were in cross country running. Born in 1979, Samuels was competing in big events years before her 20th birthday.
Despite a dip in her career towards the end of her 20s, Sonia has reignited her love of running. She finished third in the Berlin Half Marathon in 2011. And a year later ran her first London Marathon and finished in 19th position. Her time for this event was 2:33:41.
This GB athlete represented her country in Moscow in 2013, at the World Athletics Championship. Here, she finished a marathon in 16th place.
In September 2015, Sonia Samuels earned a new personal best in Berlin. Where she finished a marathon in an impressive 2:28:04. In the same year, she had finished the London Marathon in 15th place with a time of 2:31:36.
Selections for Rio 2016, it got announced, would come straight from the 2016 London Marathon. The top two GBR women would earn their place within Team GB. Which left Samuels racing again for the team spot that she dreamed of.
Finishing just 8 seconds after GBR winner Alyson Dixon, Sonia ended the race in 14th place. And got selected to represent Great Britain.
Sonia Samuels’ Personal Life
Before working towards her Olympic dream, Sonia was a language teacher. She gave that up in 2011, to focus on a career in athletics. Sonia claims on her personal website that she had dreamed of being Olympian since she was 13.
Samuels’ move to athletics was quite the career change, with her giving up a stable full-time position for a life of training and racing. She had been a successful long distance runner in the past. And was typically taking part in at least ten events per year. But admits that she had settled for a job that would pay the mortgage.
Over time, Sonia got encouraged by her husband to make an important decision. She was no longer able to balance a full time career and a commitment to running, so got asked to choose one or the other. Either she would continue as a teacher and running would become a hobby. Or she would give up teaching in favour of committing to an ongoing career as a runner. At this point, she chose the latter.
Now, Sonia believes that her age calls for good nutrition, as her body begins to slow down. At 36, she isn’t the youngest athlete. She spends her spare time growing her own food. And researching how to best fuel her body, to help with post-race recovery.
Sonia is one to watch in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Because she has turned a settled lifestyle into one with bigger risks and potential rewards. She is proof that it is never too late to make a big change to your lifestyle, if your current one doesn’t suit you.
Team GB Stars: Ciara Horne
Ciara Horne was a member of the GB team that earned the bronze medal at the 2016 World Championships in London. It was her part in this team pursuit event that saw her enlisted to Team GB for the Rio Olympics.
Ciara had won the European Championship gold, in 2014. A well as the individual pursuit in Glasgow during the same year.
Ciara has been cycling competitively since 2009. The athlete is now 26 years old, with more than half a decade of cycling experience to bring the Rio this year.
Ciara Horne’s Personal Life
Ciara Horne had not always been aiming towards a career in cycling. In fact, as a child she competed at a national level in swimming. She showed promise as a swimmer. And kept her own Olympic scrapbook which she used for inspiration.
At the age of 16, Horne experienced a serious shoulder injury. She got forced to give up on her goal of becoming a competitive swimmer. Instead turning to triathlon events to continue as an athlete.
Through her triathlon training, Horne discovered that she was a strong cyclist. In 2009, during her second year studying Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham, she tried her hand at pure cycling.
Horne originally represented Ireland, as she had Irish citizenship through her mother. In 2012 she got invited instead to ride under her British racing license. Training with the Welsh Cycling Squad due to her father Barry’s Welsh citizenship.
Ciara has stated that it had been her dream from the age of 10, to compete in the Olympic Games. The path that she has taken may not have been the path that she originally expected to follow. But she is looking forward to representing Team GB in Rio.
Team GB Stars: Amber Hill
The youngest member of Team GB’s shooting team, Amber Hill is making her Olympic debut at Rio 2016. She is the youngest ever Skeet World Cup gold medallist, too. In 2013, Amber won BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year.
Amber represented England, aged 16, at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She also represented GB at the 2015 European Games in Baku, where she hit all 30 clays and took first place. The results of this sudden death shoot-off won her a Rio qualification spot.
Team GB has not had much success with shooting. In 2012, Great Britain won just one shooting medal at the London Olympics. Before this, no shooting medals had got awarded since 2000.
There is a lot of pressure on the teenager. But she got used to being the youngest at most of the competitions she takes part in.
Amber Hill’s Personal Life
Amber’s grandfather introduced her to shooting, when she was just nine years old. He challenged her by betting £50 that she could not beat him. Over time, Amber went from losing to taking home a small fortune after an afternoon of practicing.
Even today, Amber’s grandfather plays a big part in furthering her shooting career. He is often the one to travel with her as she enters competitions. Whilst her mother and brother remain in England waiting to hear news of her success.
Amber was a spectator at London 2012, and said that she wanted to be in Rio in 2016. She has succeeded in reaching that goal, as Olympic Skeet Shooter for Great Britain in the Olympic Games.
Now, Amber Hill hopes to inspire a generation of girls to take up a sport that most would never consider. Amber hopes that this male dominated sport will get more popular amongst women in the future.
Team GB Stars: Who will you be watching?
The five Team GB stars that we have introduced above are all worth watching out for. Each has an interesting story. Plus an exceptional amount of talent and a commitment to working hard throughout the Olympic Games and beyond.
The paths to Rio are as varied as the competitors that we will see taking part. But each athlete will get supported by the people of Great Britain as they work to bring home medals.
Who would you add as your Team GB one to watch? What sport will you most enjoy, when watching this year’s Rio 2016 Olympics?
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