Tynedale ready to cheer on its Olympic hopefuls
Last updated at 09:42, Monday, 30 July 2012
TYNEDALE eyes will be glued to their television screens for the next two weeks as they shout on their local Olympic heroes.
With the London 2012 Olympics officially underway tomorrow, local interest will be provided by experienced rower Matt Wells (33) and long distance runner Nick McCormick (30), both of Hexham.
And there will be an extra local link, with middle distance runner Laura Weightman (21) a regular on the track at Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre under the stewardship of coach, and Wall resident, Steve Cram.
The London Olympics will be an emotional farewell to a glittering international rowing career for former Queen Elizabeth High School student, Matt Wells.
In his fourth and final Games, the 33-year-old is aiming for a sensational swansong, looking to better the bronze medal he picked up in the pairs at Beijing four years ago.
However, he is under no illusion that he will be up against it after rowing coach Jurgen Grobler opted to switch him to the unfancied men’s quadruple sculls.
With Matt finishing second in the Team GB trials behind number one Alan Campbell, it was thought Matt and one other Brit would be right up there for gold.
Yet he has been asked to accompany Charles Cousins, Stephen Rowbotham and Tom Solesbury in the quads, seemingly kissing goodbye to any dreams of a finish on the podium.
Matt’s unquestionable drive and determination to succeed has helped transform the team, though, seeing the four-team finish fourth in the A final at the most recent Rowing World Cup in Munich, Germany, after failing to qualify for the main final in the previous two in Belgrade, Serbia, and Lucerne, Switzerland.
Matt’s presence in the four has boosted the confidence levels, the team admitting as much with Tom answering a question from Hexham Courant in a twitter question and answer session, saying: “Matt has provided a huge lift. He is phenomenally fast in single, an excellent crew sculler and has masses of experience, so has been so helpful.”
A place in the final, or even a top three finish, is not out of reach, and Matt will be determined to bring home a medal in his fourth Olympics following on from appearances at Sydney, Athens and Beijing.
His participation comes on the back of last week’s announcement that the Matt Wells Foundation, complete with a scholarship for young rowers, will be launched following his retirement, as he aims to give something back to the sport in his home town. He will also want to show off a medal at his Matt Wells 2012 Sprint Regatta at Tyne Green, on August 18, where nine fellow Olympic rowers will descend on Hexham in a one-off, sporting spectacular.
With thanks to BBC’s 24 Olympic channels, people can follow his progress on the red button, the quads’ first round on Olympics 1 at 11.30am tomorrow. Should the team make it out of one of the three heats, they will appear in one of the semi-finals on August 1 at 10.40am (Olympics 2) and then the grand final two days later at 10.10am (Olympics 6).
Making his debut at an Olympics will be the hard working Nick McCormick who, at the age of 30, must have thought the prestigious honour had passed him by.
The former Tynedale Harrier, who now represents Morpeth, has battled an injury ravaged career to qualify for London 2012, and deserves his place in Team GB for putting in excellent performances throughout the 2012 season.
His motto of never giving up has paid dividends and local people will be hoping he performs well as he is a genuine, honest, hard working professional. But he is not just going into the 5000m to make up the numbers, and he aims to make the final of the event at least. Yet he will be up against it as he faces an elite field, including untouchable teammate Mo Farah.
His involvement starts in round one of the men's 5000m on August 8, with coverage on Olympics 1 at 10.45am. Should he manage to achieve his dream and make it through, people can witness his final run on August 11 at 7.30pm (Olympics 1).
Perhaps the greatest hope of a local Olympic medal comes in the form of 21-year-old Laura Weightman who will go into the Games with no fear as she is very much the underdog in the 1500m.
Although she may feel the pressure of appearing in front of a home crowd, it is her first major championships and the bubbly youngster is sure to enjoy every minute of it.
Although a Morpeth Harrier from Alnwick, she has a strong link to the district through her summers spent at the Wentworth, and the district will be hoping she can spring a surprise.
She is in good hands under coach Steve Cram, a silver medallist in the 1500m at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and is hoping to build on her barnstorming performance at the Olympics Trials which saw her shoot to prominence.
She will be in one of the three first round heats on August 6 on Olympics 1 at 11.45am, followed by the semi-final on August 8 at 7.45pm (Olympics 1) and then the showpiece final two days later at 8.55pm (Olympics 1).
First published at 09:07, Monday, 30 July 2012
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk