Up-and-coming athletes and coaches who weren’t selected to compete at London 2012 will still get to take part in the Games, thanks to an initiative by the British Olympic Association (BOA).
The Olympic Ambition Programme gives 130 athletes and 56 coaches from across 44 sports the chance to experience the games environment first hand. It was started at the Beijing games in 2008, and according to Team GB chef de mission and BOA chief executive officer, Andy Hunt, it now plays a key role in planning for both summer and winter Olympics.
“The young athletes and coaches participating in the programme will experience the unique atmosphere and environment of the Olympics and gain a very special behind the scenes insight with Team GB,” he said. “We hope the programme will provide them with added inspiration and knowledge to further develop their international sporting careers and compete successfully at future games.”
On the list are twelve talented equestrians all keen to make the grade at the next games. Their names are:
Amy Stovold, dressage
Anne-Marie Perry, dressage
Hannah Biggs, dressage
Gareth Hughes, dressage
Matthew Sampson, showjumping
Jemma Kirk, showjumping
Sam Hutton, showjumping
Alan Fazakerley, showjumping coach
Gemma Tattersall, eventing
Willa Newton, eventing
Lauren Shannon, eventing
Sarah Verney, eventing coach
Amy Stovold, from Surrey, was hoping to be shortlisted for London 2012, but missed out due to an injury to her horse MacBrian. She said that she is “elated” to have been chosen for the programme.
“It certainly helps soften the blow of not competing there myself and it means I’ve been recognised as a potential rider for the future, which is rewarding in itself,” Amy told H&C. “And it’s an amazing opportunity to be in the heart of the Olympics and to experience the whole of the games.
“Athletes are more likely to win medals at their second Olympics as just being there is a major thing to take in, so you can lose your focus when you’re in amongst it for the first time. It will be great to be there without the pressure of competing.”
During the programme the athletes and coaches will visit the British teams' preparation camp at Loughborough University, before travelling to London where they will visit the Olympic Village, watch two Olympic competition sessions and experience the atmosphere at Team GB House in Westfield Stratford City.
“The Olympic Association has worked really hard to make this an invaluable experience for all of us,” Amy added. “I’m really excited – I’ve already been sent my Team GB kit and I feel part of the whole thing.”