Manchester Olympians: Who’s representing the city at London 2012?
By Tom Hickman
With his roots in Rochdale, despite now being based in Portland, Stuart Bithell has Manchester in his blood. A skilled sailor, Bithell cruised to a silver medal in 2009’s World Championship with partner Luke Patience. This partnership has since gone from strength to strength, with the boys now being one of the favourites in the 470 class, having been selected as the British representatives back in January, although the pair will face stiff competition in the form of Australian duo Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page, current world champions.
Michael Rock shot to fame in 2009 at the ‘Duel in the Pool’ in Manchester, where he finished more than a second ahead of Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly. From there, Rock went on to gain a silver medal in the 200m butterfly at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and is also the current 100m and 200m British champion. Hailing from Liverpool, Rock’s place on this list is warranted by his position as a fully-fledged member of the Manchester alumni, having completed a law degree.
Born in Withington, Kate Walsh is well on her way to earning her 300th international cap, having been the captain of the women’s hockey team since 2003. Following the British team’s disappointing 6th placed finish in Beijing four years ago, women’s hockey underwent wholesale changes, with Walsh at the head of them. The benefits were clear for all to see at this year’s Champions Trophy, where they ended the competition as runners-up, leaving the women’s hockey team as genuine gold medal prospects for this year’s games.
A household name when it comes to the Olympics, Ben Ainslie is a veteran of four tournaments, with his first being Atlanta in 1996. Born in Macclesfield, Ainslie is a stalwart of ten world championship titles, stemming back to 1993, his fantastic achievements in the sport being recognised by the awarding of his CBE in 2009. With London being Ben’s final games, he will be looking to bow out on a high and join the group of elite athletes to have gained four gold medals at four separate games.