THE Rio Olympics are just eight days away; with the Australian team hoping to do the nation proud and bring home a significant medal haul. Wondering who to cheer for, or what sports might warrant staying up to the early hours of the morning to watch? We have your comprehensive list of the local talent who are looking to do our region, and nation proud.
In the athletics arena, Ben St Lawrence, born in Penrith and living in the mountains, will represent the nation in the 10-kilometre event, the only Australian man to compete at this length since the Sydney games. He runs fast, clocking just under 27 and a half minutes over the 10-kilometres, a super human feat, and will look to better his 20th place finish from four years ago.
On the bike, Amanda Spratt, also born in Penrith and living in the mountains, will fly inches from the pavement in the cycling road race. She’s one to watch, winning the 2016 Australian Championships and 2015 Giro del Trentino in Italy. This is Amanda’s second games.
In the pool, talented 22-year old Jake Packard, Penrith born, will compete in the 100-metre breaststroke and 4 x 100 metre medley relay. Now applying his trade in Queensland, Jake is representing Australia at his first Olympic games, off the back of a fifth placed finish in the individual event at last years World Championships.
In the ring, Daniel Lewis, born in Penrith, will go toe to toe with the best of the 75kg division in the men’s boxing. The 22-year old is full of promise, only missing out on the London games due to a broken jaw during trials. Daniel won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games and is a real medal chance.
On the water is where you will find most of our local products, with Lucien Delfour, Ian Borrows and Jessica Fox preparing for the torturous canoe/kayak slalom course. All three athletes live in Penrith, with Delfour, a four time World Cup Medalist, and Borrows, hooked on the sport ever since the 2000 games, representing Australia in the K1 and C1 events respectively.
Arguably the most well known of the three, Jessica Fox is on her way to her second Olympic games, having won Silver in the K1 event in London. Nepean News was lucky enough to speak with Jessica during her busy schedule, asking her what is feels to represent the Nepean region in Rio.
“I absolutely love this region and it gives me enormous pride to represent Australia and our region. In particular having attended all of my schooling here I understand the importance and impact of my going to the Olympics has on young children. If I can do it anyone can,” she continued
“The amount of messages I receive via Facebook and Twitter is incredible. I want the people of Penrith and the Blue Mountains to know that I am carrying their thoughts with me. It's a strange feeling, foremost I represent Australia but equal to that I also represent my community. They are the best supporters anyone could ever wish for. I was only just reading all the online comments recently on pages such as Memories of Penrith and it makes me feel absolutely humbled. Thanks Nepean News for following my journey.”
Asked whether she was confident of going one better this time around, Fox touched on her experiences in London and her confidence heading into Rio.
“It was an amazing experience winning a Silver medal in London. I was nervous; the crowd was incredible and scary at the same time. This time I am more prepared, I have had a strong 4 years where I have confirmed my position within the sport. On the day however anything can happen and any one of about 15 athletes could win an Olympic medal. I just need to remain focused on doing the little things right and hopefully it all comes together on the massive Olympic stage.”
For the record, there will be long nights ahead in front of your TV sets. 9am in Rio is 10pm Sydney time. Rio at 4pm in the afternoon is 5am Sydney time. It will be a tough ask, but try and remember the sacrifice and courage each athlete has shown to not only compete at the games, but to dedicate four years of their lives to get there. On behalf of Nepean News, we wish every Australian athlete the very best in Rio. We will all be watching.