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The Rio Olympics get under way today, with seven of our own aiming to strike gold. Here, Sports Reporter RORY BENSON assesses their chances.

JOHN WHITAKER JOHN Whitaker was born in 1955 in Huddersfield and began his Olympic adventure at the Alternative Olympics in Rotterdam in 1980.

The US-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics meant Whitaker would only start his Olympic career in 1984, when he helped his show jumping team to silver in Los Angeles.

The 60-year-old has claimed 24 Olympic, World and European Championship medals and will in his sixth Olympics - making him Great Britain's joint second most appearing Olympian in the Games' history, after teammate Nick Skelton.

John will be riding inexperienced yet talented mare Ornellaia in Rio, having ruled his top horse Argento out of competing in South America earlier in the year.

MICHAEL WHITAKER MICHAEL was born in Huddersfield five years after his brother and began competing on ponies at the tender age of seven.

By 16, Michael had made his debut in international competitions and in 1980 he became the second youngest show jumper to win the Hickstead Derby - at just 20 years old.

His brother, John, was the topranked international show jumper in the early 1990s, but Michael took over the mantle in September 1993.

The 56-year-old will be riding Cassionato in his sixth Olympics in Rio.

ED CLANCY TRACK cyclist Ed Clancy will be searching for his third Olympic gold in Rio, having claimed the top prize in the team pursuit in London and in Beijing four years earlier.

With five European Elite Championship gold medals and five World Championship gold medals, Clancy is tipped to bag more medals in Brazil and has previously featured in a number of world record team pursuits. In Rio he will be competing both against his teammates as well as with them, as the team takes five riders with only four being able to represent Great Britain in the final - should they get there.

The other four riders included in the men's team pursuit squad are Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Owain Doull and Steven Burke.

MARCUS ELLIS A NEWCOMER to the Olympic scene, Marcus Ellis' rise to the top of world badminton has been a rapid one.

Two years ago, the Huddersfieldborn star teamed up with men's doubles partner Chris Langridge and the duo have gone from strength to strength.

The pair won the Italian International within months of joining forces, which was followed less than a year later by the Welsh International.

This year the pair have won their second English National Championship and the Austrian Open, and are now ranked 20th in the world heading to the Games.

LOIS TOULSON AT 16 years old, Lois Toulson is one of the youngest athletes selected to represent Team GB in Rio this year.

Toulson will be competing in the women's synchronised 10m platform alongside Tonia Couch, with the third-ranked pair aiming to end Britain's 56-year wait for a women's Olympic diving medal.

After winning medals throughout her time in the junior championships, Toulson made the jump to the senior competitions in 2014, winning 10m platform silver and 10m synchronised gold at the British Gas National Cup.

A year later, she won gold in the 10m platform event at the British Championships before teaming up with Couch for the 10m synchronised dive at the World Series this year.

ALISTAIR BROWNLEE ALISTAIR Brownlee is currently ranked 11th in the world in triathlon by the World Triathlon Series (WTS) and has won 21 of the 32 WTS races he has started, finishing on the podium another four times.

He finished 12th at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was Britain's highest-finishing competitor.

The ITU Triathlon World Championships have been dominated by Brownlee, who claimed gold in the elite event in 2009, gold in the elite and team events in 2011 and another gold in the team event in 2014.

Most memorably however was Brownlee's victory at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where he won gold eleven seconds in front of the second-placed competitor.

Alistair went on to win gold at the Commonwealth Games Triathlon in 2014, along with the mixed triathlon team relay in the same competition.

JONATHAN BROWNLEE JONATHAN Brownlee is Alistair's younger and equally talented brother who will also be competing in the triathlon in Rio this summer.

He claimed silver in the 2011 ETU Triathlon European Championships, as well as silver in the 2011 and 2013 ITU Triathlon World Rankings.

In addition to the podium finishes, Jonathan won gold in the sprint event at the 2010 ITU World Championships, the team and sprint events at the same competition in 2011, the elite and team events in 2012, as well as in the team event in the 2014 edition of the competition.

Jonathan also finished third in the 2012 Olympics, despite a 15-second penalty for cycling too early in the transitionary zone at the event.

He followed this up with silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games men's race and gold in the mixed team relay at the same competition, and is currently ranked third in the world.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 6, 2016
Words:828
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