Bristolians gear up for their day of Olympic glory

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By The Bristol Post | Saturday, July 28, 2012, 05:00

FROM Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps to LeBron James and Dayron Robles, the world's greatest sporting stars will be in action in London over the coming weeks.

But in addition to the host of international superstars who will be going for gold, the Olympic dream also burns strongly for a number of Bristol athletes hoping to make their mark at the Games of the XXX Olympiad.

Eleven athletes with strong Bristol connections – from eight different sports ranging from archery and hockey to water polo and judo – will be competing in the first staging of the Olympics to take place on British soil for 64 years.

Perhaps the best hope of a Bristolian medallist, is archer Larry Godfrey. Kingswood-born and Bishopston-based Godfrey, who competes for Cleve Archers, will become a three-time Olympian when his campaign kicks off at Lord's on Friday.

He made his Olympic debut in Athens eight years ago, losing narrowly to Australian Tim Cuddihy in the bronze-medal play-off match, before going out to eventual bronze medallist Bair Badënov in the first round in China last time.

But the 36-year-old has been in impressive form over the past year – and feels a podium finish is a realistic target in London.

"I'm feeling good right now," said Godfrey. "My form over the last 12 months has been good – I feel pretty much at the peak of my powers."

His bid for a medal begins on Friday with the ranking round at Lord's – with the team medal event taking place the following day. The individual medals in men's archery will be won on Friday, August 3.

Another local medal prospect is 21-year-old Georgie Twigg. The University of Bristol law student is part of the women's hockey team, who are expected to challenge strongly for gold.

Their preliminary campaign kicks off against Japan at the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park on Sunday, before matches against Korea, Belgium, China and the Netherlands.

"When it comes down to business, our goal is the gold medal," said Twigg. "We have worked so hard to be where we are and I feel totally prepared to get out there and compete.

"What is so great about our team is that everyone knows that we will go out there and give everything, never giving up until that final whistle."

The first key date in the diary for Imogen Cairns, who is from Winterbourne and now lives in Portishead, is Sunday, when she competes in the qualification round of the artistic gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena – better known as The O2 Arena.

She is in a Great Britain squad that also includes Beth Tweddle – and they will be looking to improve on their fifth-place finish in the team event at last year's World Championship in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old, who battled back from career-threatening ankle injuries to win two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi two years ago, will also be looking for strong showings on the vault and floor in the individual event.

Great Britain will be captained in the men's water polo by Bristolian Craig Figes, who continues the Bristol Central club's proud tradition of sending members to the Olympics.

The 33-year-old will become the first man to skipper Great Britain in water polo at an Olympic Games since 1956 – and the underdogs begin their campaign against Romania on Sunday, before clashes with Serbia, United States, Hungary and Montenegro.

Another Bristol Central Swimming Club member, 23-year-old Katie Dawkins, is representing Great Britain in the synchronised swimming team event, which takes place on Thursday and Friday, August 9-10 at the Aquatics Centre.

Bristol-born diver Stacie Powell, meanwhile, competes in the women's ten-metre platform event, with the preliminary round on Wednesday, August 8 and the final the following day.

On the track, University of the West of England student Andrew Pozzi represents Great Britain in the 110 metres hurdles, the heats of which take place on Tuesday, August 7, while Bristol & West AC life member Jo Pavey competes in the 5000 and 10,000 metres.

Former University of Bristol student Claire Hallissey, another Bristol & West AC life member, competes alongside Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi in the marathon on Sunday, August 5. Bristolian Emily Diamond, also of Bristol & West AC, has been named in the women's 4x400 metre relay squad, whose medal race takes place on Friday, August 10.

Switching from the track to the dojo, Bristol-born, Thornbury-raised judo ace Sally Conway competes in the women's 70kg event, the entirety of which takes place on Wednesday, August 1 at the ExCeL Centre.

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