7 Team GB Olympians from our area - including a former world record holder
- Credit: PA
With Tokyo 2020 getting underway next Friday, we look at seven athletes from our area who have represented Team GB at the Olympics - including a former world record holder and one of cycling's all-time greats.
Victoria Pendleton – Stotfold & Hitchin
Born in Stotfold and raised in Hitchin, Victoria Pendleton has gone down as one of the greatest cyclists in British history, with her gold medal wins at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics her crowning achievement.
At the Beijing games, Pendleton won silver in the women’s keirin before going on to take gold in the sprint race.
Four years later in London, she finally won gold in keirin. The north Herts racer would then set a new Olympic record of 10.724 seconds in the qualifiers of the sprint, before going on to win silver in the event – a race that turned out to be her last before retirement – as she cemented her legacy as one of cycling’s greats.
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Helen Richardson-Walsh – Hitchin
Having won bronze at the London 2012 games, Hitchin-born Helen Richardson-Walsh played a key role as Team GB won their first ever gold in women’s hockey at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
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The team got off to the best possible start, winning all five of their group games to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Spain were seen off in a 3-1 victory followed by a 3-0 win against New Zealand in the last four to secure their final spot, with Richardson-Walsh scoring in both games.
Up against a much-fancied Netherlands side in the gold medal match, the game went to penalties after a 3-3 draw.
Maddie Hinch’s goalkeeping heroics saw her save all four Dutch penalties, with Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb scoring as the team won gold and made history.
Speaking after the final, Richardson-Walsh said: “It's difficult to put into words what this means.
"17 years ago, when I started my career, we were so far off this. It has taken so much hard work and it means absolutely everything."
Ellie Watton and Hannah Macleod – St Albans
Former St Albans Hockey Club players Ellie Watton and Hannah Macleod were part of the 2016 Olympic gold medal winning side alongside Richardson-Walsh.
Macleod was also part of the side that won bronze at London 2012, but the pair played key roles in the 2016 triumph before retiring from the game in 2018.
Macleod was also awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to hockey.
Daniel Goodfellow – Melbourn
From Meldreth and a student at Melbourn Village College from 2008 to 2013, diver Daniel Goodfellow trained at Cambridge Dive Team and Plymouth Dive Club as a youngster, before earning a Team GB spot for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Teaming up with London 2012 bronze medallist Tom Daley for the 10m synchro, Goodfellow and his partner had their eyes on the medal places.
Sitting in fifth place ahead of their fifth dive, a score of 92.13 shot them up to third, but they still had work to do to secure their place on the podium.
Needing a score of 84 on their final dive to jump back above the German pair, the British duo waited anxiously before leaping into the pool in celebration when the score of 89.64 came up as they won bronze.
Goodfellow will be looking to win another medal in Tokyo, this time in the 3m synchro, when he teams up with Jack Laugher.
Tommy Hampson – Stevenage and St Albans
Ahead of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Tommy Hampson was considered one of the world’s leading 800m runners, but just two years earlier he had been a teacher as St Albans School.
In a hard-fought race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Hampson's late charge for the finish line saw him overtake Canadian runner Alex Wilson to secure the gold medal with a new world and Olympic record time of 1.49.70.
It wasn’t the only Olympic medal he won in 1932 as he secured silver in the 4×400 metres relay team, coming second behind the United States.
Hampson would retire from athletics later that year before leaving his teaching job to join the Royal Air Force, staying in the service until after the Second World War.
He moved to Stevenage in 1954, he sadly passed away in 1965 at the age of 57. He is buried at the Church of St Mary where he was warden before his death, while Hampson Park is named is in his honour.
Jodie Williams – Welwyn Garden City
Born in Welwyn Garden City and a former student at Potters Bar’s Dame Alice Owens school, Jodie Williams is looking to put her London 2012 and Rio 2016 heartbreak behind her in Tokyo.
After a string of injuries, sprinter Williams failed to secure her Team GB place in the 100 metres, but the then 18-year-old was determined to come back stronger.
“I just had so much going on and my body just started to break down,” she said.
“If someone had asked me before what my worst setback was, I would have said coming second at the world juniors, but this was a proper setback.
“That was my first real setback year. It was hard, as I'd not been used to dealing with setbacks before.
“It was tough to sit back and watch it, to see other people competing, and thinking I could have been there at the home Olympics, but then I told myself ‘I'm 18 and there's hopefully plenty more Olympics ahead of me’.
“It wasn't nice sitting at home, and it took me a while to get over that.”
Despite winning silver in the European and Commonwealth 200m races, she nearly quit athletics twice before the Rio 2016 Olympics, where she failed to qualify for the final.
Williams is back in the Team GB squad for this summer’s games, this time as a 400m runner.