Six of the best: Local Olympians

Six of the best: Local Olympians

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Bryony Shaw

Following in the golden footsteps of Dame Kelly Holmes, our towns are represented at Rio 2016 by half a dozen elite athletes striving for precious medals – from a hockey legend with three Olympic notches on his stick to the captain of the Team GB golfers as the sport makes his first appearance at the Games since 1904. William Lloyd profiles our own team of glory hunters…

Will Bayley – Table tennis

Silver medallist at London 2012, Will Bayley will be hoping to go one better at the Paralympics in Rio. It will be his third Games.

Bayley, 28, was born in Tunbridge Wells. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a curving of the joints causing severe muscle weakness.

At the age of seven he was diagnosed with cancer and during his recovery he began playing table tennis on a table bought by his grandmother.

Five years later, Bayley joined Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells and went on to represent Kent’s non-disabled men’s team.

Susannah Townsend – Hockey

This will be Susannah Townsend’s first Olympics, having narrowly missed out on Team GB’s women’s field hockey squad for the London Games.

After growing up in Sevenoaks, the 27-year-old now plays for Canterbury and is known for her lung-bursting runs from midfield.

In 2014 Townsend was named Hockey Writers’ Club Women’s Player of the Year. She is now a regular for the team as they look to better their bronze medal in London.

Jamie Spence
Jamie Spence
Jamie Spence – Golf

After a long career on the European Tour, Jamie Spence, 53, was chosen as the golf team leader for Team GB, though, as with Ryder Cup captains, he will not compete but act as mentor.

Born in Tunbridge Wells, he turned professional in 1985. With two victories on the European Tour, he is seen as having the right amount of experience to handle the egos of top-level golfers.

Bryony Shaw – Windsurfing

She lives in Tunbridge Wells and won a bronze in Beijing but became seriously ill before London 2012 and could only finish seventh.

The 33-year-old cemented her reputation among the world’s elite with a gold medal in the European Championships last year in Sicily.

After the disappointment of London, Shaw has visited the Rio Olympic course numerous times in order to perfect her preparation.

Ashley Jackson
Ashley Jackson
Ashley Jackson – Hockey

The player grew up in Tunbridge Wells and has represented Team GB in Athens, Beijing and London.
Already his country’s leading scorer, the 28-year-old has twice been named in the International Hockey Federation’s World All-Star team.

The men’s field hockey teams have come fifth and fourth in the last two Olympics and hope for a podium finish this year.

Tom Bosworth
Photo: Jodi Hanagan
Tom Bosworth – Race Walking

The front-page story of last week’s Times of Tonbridge, Tom Bosworth is competing in the 20km walk at his first Olympics.

As a member of Tonbridge Athletic Club for the last 15 years, the 26-year-old has kept in contact with his roots while training in Leeds full-time.

After setting the British record for the 10km race walk last year, Tom is coming into form at the perfect time.