Tuesday, January 25

Leap year: Team GB athletes wait for Tokyo 2020 | Tokyo 2020 Olympics

TOAlthough Covid’s challenges made planning difficult, the goal of the project was to show the different journey each athlete took in preparation to represent Great Britain at the Tokyo Games. The work offers a snapshot of what has been happening behind closed doors, showing the extraordinary efforts that each athlete is going through to stay at the elite level and maintain the highest level of sporting ability. For some, their selection spots were confirmed, pre-pandemic, while for others the qualification process went all the way.

Super heavyweight boxer Frazer Clarke filming at his home in October 2020.

Frazer Clarke, super heavyweight boxer, bronze medal winner at Tokyo 2020

Six months after the Road to Tokyo Olympic qualifiers were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the lockout rules relaxed, I met with Clarke at his home in Burton to document what life as an elite boxer looked like during the first confinement. With The Lions’ Den, GB Boxing’s training center, tentatively opening up for elite contact training, and new tournaments on the horizon, things were starting to get back on track for Clarke and GB Boxing. This was cemented by a sensational return to the ring when Clarke secured gold at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament in Hungary in February.

Frazer Clarke gloves are taking a well-earned break.
British super heavyweight boxer Clarke training in isolation at the South Derbyshire Boxing Academy in March 2021 in Swadlincote.
Clarke training with the bag at her home in Burton-on-Trent.

“I’ve spent the last 10 years doing this and earning the right to represent my country at the Olympics, so finally getting there and being selected to represent Team GB is an incredible feeling,” said Clarke. “This is a really strong team, so being named captain is an incredible honor. GB Boxing has played a huge role in my upbringing, not just as a boxer, but also as a person, and being named team captain is incredible. It is one of the achievements of which life makes me most proud. “

Badminton England mixed doubles players Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith train at their home in August 2020.

Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis, Badminton – mixed doubles

Badminton England teammates in pairs and mixed doubles, Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, are a tour de force. The northern power has accumulated numerous high-ranking medals and trophies during their respective careers. Since first filming with Smith and Ellis at their home in Milton Keynes, the pair have competed in various world circuit events, including the Danish Open, the Asian leg of the HSBC BWF World Tour, and the YONEX All England Open, where they participated. he made an excellent effort and reached the semifinals. Competitive life under Covid has been challenging; During the World Tour tournament in Bangkok, athletes were confined to their hotel rooms, except for training and competition, and meals were delivered to their rooms three times a day.

Marcus Ellis, with Chris Langridge, during a circuit training session at the National Badminton Center in June 2021.
Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith at the National Badminton Center, Milton Keynes
Ellis and Smith needed to train in their backyard during the lockdown.

“We are very excited to be Olympians again, after so much uncertainty and the longest wait, we are excited to get out,” said Lauren Smith and Marcus Ellis. “It is always a proud moment to represent Team GB and we hope the work we did at home during the closing pays off!”

Tom Squires on Portland Bill in July 2020 in Portland, Dorset.

Tom Squires, RS: X Windsurfer

Squires from Oxford, landlocked, was bitten by the windsurfing virus on a family holiday in Cornwall at the age of 11, when Squires’ father bought an old windsurfing board and rig and let his son do it. will try. They enjoyed it so much that on their return to Oxford they immediately enrolled in the nearest Royal Yacht Association windsurfing course. When the lockdown restrictions began to be lifted last summer, I ventured to Weymouth, home to RYA’s training base, to see what life looks like for a sailor getting out of Covid’s restrictions. Since my initial visit, Squires has gone on to compete on the world and European circuit, competing throughout continental Europe, taking third place at Silvaplana, Switzerland.

Tom Squires on the stone structure of the Olympic rings at New Ground in Portland, Dorset, during July 2020.
Tom Squires' trainer Dom Tidey testing the wind direction during a training session.
Tom Squires sailing alongside the MV Britannia P&O cruise ship in Weymouth Bay in Portland, Dorset during July 2020. At the time, seven large cruise ships were docked in Weymouth Bay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Actually, I didn’t have that much fun this year and there were times when I felt like I wasn’t performing well, but this summer I got a great workout and really got over the areas that I was struggling in,” Squires said. “There were times when I thought about quitting everything and getting an adult job, but in the end I managed to get ahead and qualify for the Games… I’m super happy that all my training has paid off. Now that I have qualified, of course I am going for a medal ”.

Nekoda Smythe Davis at the Judo Center of Excellence training center in Walsall during April 2021.

Nekoda Smythe-Davis, 57 kg Judoka

Hailing from the Ealing Judo Club in West London, Nekoda Smythe-Davis has embarked on a celebrated career as 4th Dan Judoka and triumphantly broke podium positions and was crowned British and Commonwealth champion in 2014. In 2016 she made her Olympic debut in Rio. When British judo was given the green light to resume contact training at the Center of Excellence in Walsall, following strict Covid guidelines, I joined Smythe-Davis on their journey back to elite training.

Nekoda Smythe Davis at the Center of Excellence on August 19, 2020 at Walsall in the UK.
Nekoda Smythe-Davis puts up hard yards and harder shots.
Nekoda Smythe-Davis shows the way.

“Unfortunately, I suffered a concussion in November 2019 in the week leading up to the masters tournament,” Smythe-Davis said. “They told me I couldn’t fly to China and compete, which was devastating. In the following weeks I began to struggle with late concussion symptoms that persisted for a few months. I struggled for treatment when the pandemic hit and backed off on my return when elite sport was given the green light to return.

“After extensive rehabilitation with a specialized physical therapist and also seeing a neurologist to see how I could improve. It was after a consultation in November 2020 that I decided it would be too risky to go back to try and get ready for the Games. I decided to put my health and well-being first. This decision came with a heavy heart, as he knew that he was likely to qualify for Tokyo. Making that decision is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Now I know that with the games only a few weeks away and I just started to feel normal again that this was the right decision. It’s amazing to have qualified even though the last time I competed in an Olympic qualifying event was in October 2019, where I won gold at the Brasilia Grand Slam. “

Nekoda Smyth-Davis is pregnant with her first child.

“I am currently pregnant with my first child and I hope to return to sport, injury permitting, in the new year. My goal is to qualify for my third Olympic Games in Paris 2024. “

British sprint canoeist Liam Heath MBE during a morning training session at Dorney Lake, Buckinghamshire, in February 2021.

Liam Heath MBE, Sprint Canoe – Men’s K-1 200m, Bronze Medal Winner at Tokyo 2020

Heath is the current Olympic champion and has the best time in the world in the men’s K1 200m. In 2016, Heath became Team GB’s most successful Olympic canoeist following gold and silver medals during the Rio Games, adding to the bronze he won in London 2012 with his teammate Jon Schofield.

During the initial shutdown, unable to attend the home training facility at Dorney Lake, Heath set up a home training tent in his garden in Guildford and kept fit from home. It wasn’t until August that I was able to capture Heath for the first time at Dorney, with a day of training in March 2021. A month later, Heath joined Britain’s best flat water racers in their first competitive event in over 18 months in the National Water Sports. Center in Nottingham, with Heath putting on a great performance to win the K1 Mens 200m sprint. All of Heath’s training has taken place in his home gym, at Dorney Lake or at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Center.

A sign for Dorney, the 2012 Olympic venue for rowing and canoeing.
British sprinter and multiple Olympic medalist Liam Heath, MBE.
Heath with Eric Farrell during a training session in the gym at The Institute of Sport in Bisham Abbey, Buckinghamshire, in February 2021.

“Every game is so different and special in its own way,” Heath said. “I’m excited to get to Tokyo to experience what this will be like, I have no doubt it will be amazing! I just want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this moment, Team GB, British Canoeing, National Lottery players, my coaches, support staff, teammates, volunteers and family. I didn’t get here on my own and I hope everyone shares this incredible moment with me. “

Heath back at Dorney Lake.


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