With 42 sports across 306 events, over 19 days and 306 medals up for grabs, elite athletes from every corner of the planet descend on one of the world’s most iconic cities, Rio de Janeiro, this month. We’re looking at Kent’s hopefuls on the road to Rio for both the Olympics and September’s Paralympic events.
Joe Choong – Modern Pentathlon
Twenty-one-year-old Joe Choong, originally from Orpington but now studying maths at the University of Bath, will be part of Great Britain’s modern pentathlon squad.
“Being selected for the Olympics felt absolutely incredible. Our team was told at the start of winter so I knew I was doing well in terms of my selection chances. Heading to Rio I will be as fit as I’ve ever been, so I’m hoping for it to be one of my best ever performances. Having said that, pentathlon is an unpredictable sport so I will be happy as long as I put in good results in each discipline.”
Will Bayley, Paralympic Table Tennis
Will Bayley is a 28-year-old Paralympian table tennis player from Tunbridge Wells.
“My hope for Rio is to be as well prepared as I possibly can and feel I’ve given my all. Then I want to take it one match at a time and enjoy the ride. It means the world to me to represent this great country. I’m proud every time I put on the GB shirt and it inspires me to play even better. I can’t wait to represent my country.”
Kate French, Modern Pentathlon
Kate, 24, originally from Meopham, is now based in Bath. She took up the modern pentathlon in 2002.
“The last few weeks have been exciting and hectic. Obviously there was the Olympic announcement and then we were straight off to altitude camp in preparation for the European Championships. I’ve been blown away by all the kind messages I’ve had since the announcement, especially from people at home in Kent. It really does make a huge difference to know I have so much support.”
Sophie Ainsworth, 49er FX
Sophie Ainsworth, 27, comes from Ashford. The sailor will represent Team GB with her partner, Charlotte Dobson, in the 49er FX class.
“I’m thrilled to be representing Team GB and the Olympics is the pinnacle and incredibly exciting. The last four years have been an intense learning curve. As the 49er FX has never been in the Olympics before, this is an amazing opportunity. My ambition is to bring home a gold medal but ultimately it’s going to be about who can perform on the day.”
Ross Wilson, Paralympic Table Tennis
Ross Wilson, 21, from Minster is also part of the Great Britain Paralympic table tennis squad.
“My training and preparations have gone well and I’ve worked hard to achieve my goals. My hopes for Rio are to get a singles medal as I came fourth in the event in London and would love to better that. Another is to get a medal in the team event with Will Bayley, who was also my teammate at London 2012. It means the world to me to represent my country.”
To read our interview with Elise Rendall, Sport and Activity Officer at Kent Sport, pick up the August INDEX Magazine which is out now.