Home » Paris 2024: Welsh Olympic hopefuls for this summer
National News Olympics Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport Sport

Paris 2024: Welsh Olympic hopefuls for this summer

WITH just two and a half years elapsed since the Tokyo Games, the anticipation mounts for the forthcoming Olympics and Paralympics set to grace Paris. The delayed event in Tokyo has considerably shortened the wait for the subsequent Games, marking a return to Europe for the first time since the resounding success of London 2012.

In 2021, the prowess of Welsh athletes shone bright as 11 returned home adorned with medals from the Olympic Games. As the countdown ticks down until the Paris Olympics, we offer a glimpse into the potential stars of the summer.

Michael Beckett

Hailing from Solva, Pembrokeshire, sailor Michael Beckett stands as the premier Welsh athlete officially selected for the Paris Olympics. Aged 28, Beckett has solidified his stature among the globe’s elite ILCA 7 sailors, securing a European title in 2021 and clinching a world silver in 2023. With accolades such as twice conquering the prestigious Trofeo Princesa Sofia regatta, Beckett, undeterred by previous setbacks in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, eyes Marseille as his stage to shine and aims to transcend mere participation.

Matt Richards

Swimmer Matt Richards etched his name into history during the Tokyo Games, where, at a tender 18, he, alongside compatriot Calum Jarvis, propelled Great Britain to gold in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay. Their triumph marked Wales’ return to Olympic swimming glory since Irene Steer’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay gold in 1912. While Jarvis has retired post-Tokyo, Richards, now 21, continues his ascent, clinching the men’s 200m freestyle world title last year, outpacing even Olympic champion Tom Dean. Poised for another Olympic stint, Richards sets his sights on individual glory this time around.

Emma Finucane

Track cyclist Emma Finucane emerged as a revelation in 2023, embarking on a meteoric rise that saw her clinch four national titles before ascending to European Championship podiums and ultimately seizing her maiden world title. Her crowning achievement as Britain’s first women’s sprint world champion since Becky James in 2013 has thrust her into the limelight, with Paris looming large on her horizon. Crowned BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year, Finucane eyes a triumphant campaign across three events – women’s sprint, team sprint, and keirin – with gold firmly within her grasp.

Josh Tarling

Teenage prodigy Josh Tarling exceeded all expectations in his inaugural season on the World Tour, swiftly establishing himself as one of the premier time trialists on the circuit. The 19-year-old prodigy clinched British and European titles and secured bronze at the World Championships in Glasgow, with only cycling luminaries Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna outpacing him. As he dons the colours of both INEOS and Great Britain, Tarling sets his sights on scaling even greater heights this year.

Jeremiah Azu

Hailing from Cardiff, 22-year-old Jeremiah Azu stakes his claim as Wales’ fastest man in history. Azu shattered Christian Malcolm’s iconic men’s 100m record in 2023, clocking a blistering 10.04 en route to clinching gold at the U23 European Championships, a title he also seized in 2021. Despite falling short of expectations at the World Championships, Azu’s pedigree as one of Britain’s finest remains unscathed, as he eyes a pivotal role in both the men’s 4x100m relay and the individual event in Paris.

Jade Jones

Jade Jones, prior to Tokyo, enjoyed an unblemished record at the Olympic Games, securing Britain’s inaugural taekwondo gold as a teenager at London 2012 and successfully defending her title at Rio 2016. However, her quest for a historic third gold was derailed by a shock defeat in the opening round to Refugee Team contender Kimia Alizadeh. Undeterred, Jones relocated to Croatia under new tutelage, clinching five major titles in 2023 and cementing her berth for Paris as she continues to pursue her dream of Olympic immortality.

Rosie Eccles

For Caldicot boxer Rosie Eccles, the journey to qualifying for Tokyo 2020 was fraught with adversity. A debilitating virus inflicted nerve damage in her arm, casting doubt over her career’s trajectory. Despite a setback in the Olympic qualifiers, Eccles emerged triumphant, clinching gold for Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games upon her return to full fitness. With her Paris berth secured, she now aspires to emulate compatriot Lauren Price’s historic Olympic triumph in Tokyo.