Emma Raducanu has turned down the chance to compete at the 2024 Olympics for Great Britain after being offered a wildcard spot by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray was also offered a spot and will compete in what could be the final tournament of his career.

Two spots are reserved for former Grand Slam winners, but Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, has decided against going to Paris as she continues her comeback from injury.

Raducanu is ranked too low to automatically qualify after wrist and ankle surgery last year forced her away from the sport.

She also missed the French Open, played on the same courts that will stage the Olympics, earlier this year to ensure she would be fit for the grass-court swing of the season.

Iain Bates, head of GB's Olympic tennis team, said: "I have had various conversations with Emma over the last couple of weeks and a slightly longer period where it's very clear how much being part of a British team at an Olympics would mean to her.

"I think she feels this isn't going to be the right timing for her for this summer.

"She's hopefully got many Olympics ahead of her. I'm very comfortable with the decision that she's made."

Meanwhile, Murray, who won gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016, will compete in his fifth Olympic Games and has been named alongside debutants Jack Draper, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans.

Katie Boulter is also set to make her Olympic debut as the only British woman to qualify by ranking for the Games.

The ITF will announce the full entry list for Paris 2024 on July 4.

Winning a first global individual medal at last year’s World Championships whetted Zharnel Hughes’s appetite for more success, and so it comes as no surprise that the Anguillan-born Great Britain sprint sensation is strongly optimistic about clinching a medal at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

In fact, if Hughes’s confidence to top his performances from last year is anything to go by, then he could very well accomplish the feat, provided he maintains a clean bill of health throughout the season.

During last year’s electrifying campaign, which ended with his World Championships bronze in the men’s 100m final, Hughes broke Olympic champion Linford Christie’s 100m British national record when he clocked a personal best 9.83 seconds at the New York Grand Prix, in June.

A month later, at the UK Athletics Championship, Hughes ran a brisk 19.77s, which is faster than John Regis’s national 200m record, but the time was wind-aided and, as such, was recognised as a record. However, Hughes, with his superb form, inevitably established a new record when he clocked a wind-legal 19.73s at the London Diamond League.

With that in mind, coupled with his relentless work ethic and resolute pursuit of excellence, Hughes is poised to make another significant impact on the world stage this year. Whether or not it will be an Olympic gold medal triumph is left to be seen.

“It's the Olympic year, so obviously you want to better what you did last year. I'm happy with how last year turned out for me, and this year is very much more exciting. I'm preparing myself nicely. I'm feeling fit and ready to go. Obviously as an athlete, you want to lower your personal best every year, but unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't work out like that. But I'm definitely aiming to lower my personal best both in the 100m and 200m,” Hughes declared.

“I'm in good shape and I’m excited. I've definitely counted myself as one of them (athletes) to be reckoned with (for an Olympic gold medal). I'm never going to count myself out now because you've seen what happened last year, and I'm excited to top my performance from last year,” he added.

Though he 48.25s in a 400m run in February, followed by a 20.40s-clocking in March, the 28-year-old pointed out that he is yet to really hit top gear in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games, but is aiming to do so at the sixth edition of the Racers Grand Prix, on June 1, at Jamaica's National Stadium.

At the Racers Grand Prix, Hughes will line up alongside Racers Track Club teammate Oblique Seville and American World champion Noah Lyles in the 100m, which he considers a good prelude for what could come at the Paris Games.

“I'm looking forward to it, I was listening for who was going to be there; Oblique and I have been training pretty good and I know both of us representing coach Glen Mills, will be bringing it on the day. So, I look forward to who's in the field, especially with Lyles being there,” Hughes said.

“This race is to get you prepared for what's to come later in the summer. So, to have great competition like that at the Racers Grand Prix is just a great indicator to see where we're at, and what we can tweak going into our national trials, because my trials will be the latter part of June. So, for me, I'm looking forward to this race and the following week I'll have the European Championships as well. So, it'll be a great indicator for me,” he shared.

Working tirelessly under the watchful eyes of decorated coach Mills, Hughes, a four-time European Champion, has upped the ante in the gym to improve his strength, as he is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for Olympic glory.

“My training has been going tremendously well. I'm excited to open up properly (at Racers Grand Prix) because my first race wasn't so good because I had a little niggle, but I've overcome that now and I'm very excited to see what's there. I've worked on my strength a lot, physically, I'm a lot stronger and I just want to keep on top of my mental health as well,” Hughes revealed.

“Those things are very crucial going into an Olympic year, so you have to be very focused. You have to ensure that your body is properly fit as well in order to go there to give the best that you're looking for. So, I'm pretty sharp on keeping my mental focus up and ensuring that I'm properly recovered,” he ended.

Tom Dean insists he has no regrets about making public the extent of his Paris 2024 ambitions despite a setback at this month’s British Championship that left his quest to claim five medals in the French capital hanging by a thread.

The 23-year-old bullishly proclaimed his plan to seek to eclipse his long-term rival Duncan Scott as the most prolific British athlete at a single Games shortly after surging to prominence by winning double gold in Tokyo.

But third-place finishes behind Scott and Matt Richards in both the 100 and 200 metre freestyle finals mean Dean is only certain to compete in one individual event – the 200m medley – plus two relays, unless either of his rivals choose to streamline their Paris hopes.

Dean told the PA news agency: “When you put yourself out there it comes with the risk of being exposed and falling short, and it makes the feats of those incredible champions who make the claims and go out and back them up all the more impressive.

“It was a conscious decision and a source of motivation. I had a long conversation with my coach and my agent and we decided it was something we wanted to do. It is very much still on – there is a lot of individual and relay potential in Paris – and it’s still at the forefront of my mind.”

Dean is the first to admit there are parallels between his own decision to go public and Adam Peaty’s ‘Project 56’, in which he made plain his drive to smash the 57-second mark in the 100m breaststroke, and subsequently to go on to set a world record that could never be beaten.

Like Dean, Peaty has endured a recent rollercoaster, picking up a relatively disappointing pair of bronze medals at the World Championships in Doha in February, although he bounced back by booking his berth in Paris with his fastest time since winning his second straight Olympic gold in Tokyo.

“There’s not an ounce of arrogance or over-confidence about it,” said Dean. “It’s us going out and saying, we’re the only people who have won individual gold medals, we’ve won world and Commonwealth golds, and we have the belief that we can go and do it again.

“It’s what puts the fire in your belly, it’s what gets you up in the morning and pushes you on. That’s how I’ve been feeling since I came home from Tokyo, which feels like two days ago. I want to go out and win as many medals as possible.”

The notion of adversity is a strictly relative one for Dean, who overcame two bouts of Covid at the start of the delayed Tokyo Olympics year, which forced him to spend seven weeks away from training and left his hopes of even reaching the Japanese capital in serious doubt.

The rest is history as Dean went on to become the first British swimmer to win two golds at the same Games in 113 years, his subsequent record-breaking medal haul at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games sealing his place in the spotlight and culminated in him being awarded an MBE by Princess Anne.

For Dean, being pipped by two world-class rivals is an inevitable result of being part of one of the most competitive freestyle eras – and one of the most promising domestic relay squads – for many decades in the sport.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough at the moment to put a positive spin on things, but I’ve always been able to do that and even if it still feels a little bit raw, there’s plenty of good things to focus on for France.

“Adam is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the British field, while my events are the most competitive in the world. I’ve been on the podium with Duncan and Matt so many times and we are separated by just a few hundredths of a second.

“Again, it’s how you deal with that level of competition that will define you. I think the fear of failure is something that could be positive or negative. It’s the spin that you put on it – if you use it to your benefit, that’s when you can become pretty unstoppable.”

Boats down the Seine, B-boys at the Place de la Concorde and the lure of cold, hard cash promise to make the Paris 2024 Olympics, which get underway in 100 days’ time in the French capital, a Games like none before.

If traditionalists were already blanching at audacious plans to rip up over a century of opening ceremony traditions, let alone welcoming the sport of breaking into the Olympic fray, they will have been white-eyed with fury at the announcement that track and field stars will each pocket a USD50,000 bonus.

After the relative sterility of a delayed and Covid-stricken Tokyo 2020, the French capital, as well as the individual sports on an ever-growing and potentially tenuous programme, is preparing to pull out all the stops.

The Games will start on July 26 with the first opening ceremony to be staged outside a stadium, each national delegation instead sent bobbling 6km down the city’s major artery before disembarking in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Two weeks later, windmills, freezers and top rocks will become an official part of the Olympic lexicon for the first time as breaking makes its debut, B-boys and B-girls going head-to-head in DJ-driven battles.

If its inclusion is not quite as contentious as the appearance of live pigeon shooting on the programme for the first Paris Olympics in 1900, it has raised some questions about the IOC’s almost obsessional commitment towards attracting the attention of global youth.

Breaking joins other recently established sports like skateboarding, surfing and BMXing in the so-called ‘urban’ section of a constantly evolving Olympic programme, and one for which it would appear a city like Paris is ideally suited.

For Team GB, now led by the likes of 15-year-old Sky Brown, keen to build on her history-making skateboarding bronze in Tokyo, there is a sense of similar upheaval, as a generation of new stars emerge and begin to eclipse the established order.

There will be no Laura Kenny to light up the Velodrome, while in contrast to their dominant pre-Tokyo preparations, question-marks hang over the ability of the likes of Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock to retain their respective titles.

Nevertheless, Tom Dean, Keely Hodgkinson, Tom Daley, Beth Shriever and Emily Campbell will expect to return to the podium at the head of a squad that looks more than capable of resuming its top three status in the final medals table.

Dean and his closest revival Duncan Scott continued a stunning surge to prominence by the British swimming team – kick-started by Peaty’s heroics in Rio – while Daley and Matty Lee underscored a wave of promise for Team GB in the water.

Hodgkinson’s ongoing battle to avoid another silver lining against rivals Athing Mu and Mary Moraa will generate top billing on the track, where double world champion Josh Kerr resumes his mouthwatering rivalry with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

The international narrative will inevitably be headed by Simone Biles, hoping to add to her current haul of seven Olympic medals after recovering from a psychological phenomenon known as the ‘twisties’ which restricted her success in Tokyo to a solitary – if heroic – bronze on the beam.

Meanwhile French hopes do not come any bigger – literally – than judo heavyweight Teddy Riner, who boasts three Olympic golds and 11 world titles, and bids to cap his extraordinary career with another victory on home soil.

All of which will be played out in front of the welcome sight of sold-out grandstands, a world away from the bare bleachers in Tokyo, and a symbol, or so the IOC would like to see it, of the Games having weathered one of the most serious storms in its history.

It is perhaps that new-found consciousness of the need to adapt that has pushed the IOC into making more aggressive changes, be it in future bidding processes or in urging the b-boys and b-girls off the streets and into the Olympic auditorium for the first time.

The Olympic movement has evolved unthinkably since that first Paris Games 124 years ago, when resolutely amateur pursuits like angling, ballooning and croquet were also on the programme, the latter reportedly staged in front of a single paying spectator.

Some might say the latest changes are a step too far. But after the turmoil of Tokyo, most of those fortunate enough to be present in Paris will just be grateful that the Olympics are back, and braced to bop to any kind of beat at all.

With 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics, the PA news agency picks out seven top British and Irish athletes to watch.

Keely Hodgkinson

Hodgkinson could be forgiven for feeling sick of silver linings. The 800m star has finished second to either Athing Mu or Mary Moraa at a series of big events including the Tokyo Olympics (to Mu), and last year’s World Championships (to Moraa). It will take a Herculean effort to go one better in Paris, but all eyes will be on what should prove one of the most competitive events of the track and field programme.

Kimberley Woods

Woods heads to Paris as the reigning world champion in the exhilarating and brand new Olympic discipline of kayak-cross, involving heats in which four competitors hurtle down the same whitewater course simultaneously. Despite its inherent unpredictability, the 28-year-old from Rugby also won the overall World Cup title in 2023 and has proved a cut above her closest rivals.

Bradly Sinden

The Doncaster taekwondo star was disappointed with a silver medal in the men’s -68kg category in Tokyo and vowed to learn from his mistakes. He will return to Olympic competition with a second world title in the bag and as a strong favourite to finally make good on his lifelong ambition and turn that agonising silver into gold in the French capital.

Bryony Page

A surprise silver medallist on the women’s trampoline in Rio, Page returned to the podium with a bronze medal in Tokyo. At the age of 33 her confidence continues to rocket, and World Championship gold in Birmingham in 2023 – where she shunted Olympic champion Zhu Xueying into second place – suggests Page has what it takes to complete the set in Paris.

Tom Dean

Double Tokyo gold medallist Dean set himself the staggering target of five medals in Paris only to find the recent British Championships did not go to plan. Likely to be denied the chance to defend his 200m freestyle title, Dean nevertheless remains determined to make multiple visits to the podium as he heads up one of the most promising British swimming squads in decades.

Emma Wilson

Wilson, who won windsurfing bronze in Tokyo, is well placed to land gold in Marseille after making a stunning statement at this year’s World Championships, in which she won 15 of 20 qualifying races before finishing second in the winner-takes-all final race. Her consistency at the top level makes her arguably the best medal bet among the traditional surge of British sailing contenders.

Rhys McClenaghan

The Irish pommel ace finally ascended to the top of his sport after winning the 2022 World Championships in Liverpool, and went on to repeat the feat in Antwerp last year. McClenaghan, who was denied a medal in Tokyo after an early error, will relish the prospect of renewing his long-time rivalry with defending Olympic champion Max Whitlock in Paris.

Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott have been included in Team GB’s 33-strong swimming squad for this summer’s Olympics.

Peaty secured his spot at Paris 2024 at the British Championships earlier this month and will be gunning for a third successive gold medal in his signature men’s 100 metres breaststroke event.

He set the fastest time for 2024 in the discipline at the British trials after a turbulent past couple of years in which he has struggled with injuries and a much-publicised battle with his mental health.

“I’m thrilled to have made my third Olympic team,” Peaty said. “It’s always amazing to be part of Team GB, but with it being so close to home in Paris this summer, and us having more home fans there supporting us, it’s even more exciting.”

Scott, who became the first Briton to win four medals at a single Games at Tokyo 2020, also booked his passage by winning the men’s 200m individual medley and finishing as runner-up to Matt Richards in the men’s 100m and 200m freestyle events in London a couple of weeks ago.

Richards aims to break Scott’s record and become the first Briton to win five medals at one Games and has been chosen, as has Tom Dean although the double Olympic champion will almost certainly not defend the men’s 200m freestyle title he won in Tokyo after failing to get a top-two spot in the British trials.

Freya Colbert and Oliver Morgan are among 10 swimmers who will make their Olympic debuts, while Freya Anderson has been selected despite missing out on automatic qualification after contracting glandular fever at the start of the year.

Team GB won a record eight medals in the pool in Tokyo, surpassing their previous best of seven from the 1908 Games.

“Team GB has a proud tradition in Olympic swimming competitions, and I am delighted to welcome all 33 athletes to the team for Paris 2024,” said Team GB chef de mission Mark England.

“The strength and depth of our pool swimming team was evident to see at the recent Aquatics GB Swimming Championships, and along with the 10 swimmers making their debut for Team GB it is fantastic to welcome back seven Olympic Champions and nine Olympic medallists.

“I have no doubt the thrilling races we saw at the British Championships last week will be equally close fought.”

CJ Ujah has been named in Great Britain’s 4x100m relay squad for next month’s World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas for the first time since returning from a 22-month drugs ban.

Ujah, now 30, tested positive for two banned substances in a test taken at the Tokyo Olympics, which led to his team being stripped of their silver medal.

Team-mate Richard Kilty, who has also been named in the eight-strong men’s squad, said at the time he would “never forgive” Ujah for forcing him to hand back his medal.

Another member of the Tokyo squad, Reece Prescod, is also named despite quitting the relay team shortly before last year’s World Championships in Budapest, and subsequently accusing UK Athletics of “emotional blackmail” in their attempts to convince him otherwise.

Seemingly alluding to the issues relating to Ujah and Prescod, British Athletics head of sprints and relays Darren Campbell said: “They (the men’s 4x100m squad) have had their fair share of challenges in recent years.

“But I have have had my own discussions with each and every member of the squad and know they are motivated, committed and focused on working together to reach Paris.”

Ujah was cleared of deliberately taking a banned substance, but was criticised for not following established protocols when he unknowingly bought a contaminated supplement for £10 off Amazon during lockdown.

Emma Raducanu will be welcomed back into Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup team “with open arms”, according to Katie Boulter.

The former US Open champion will play just her second tie for her country this week in France, two years after making her debut against the Czech Republic.

Injuries have prevented Raducanu being involved in the intervening ties, and she indicated at the Australian Open that she would prioritise her health this year when considering whether to play.

But, with the tie on indoor clay, the same surface as her next WTA tournament in Stuttgart next week, Raducanu will join Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and debutant Francesca Jones in Le Portel.

Boulter, who is a brand ambassador for Lexus, told the PA news agency: “I’m very pleased. We’ve missed her. We love having her back.

“Obviously the number one thing is that she’s healthy. I’ve always said it for myself and it’s my biggest wish for her as well is that she can stay as healthy as possible. We’re going to be welcoming her with open arms for sure.”

At 302, Raducanu is the lowest-ranked member of Anne Keothavong’s team, with Boulter at 28 and Dart also in the top 100, but it would be a major surprise if she was left on the bench for the tie on Friday and Saturday.

 

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Raducanu won one of her two matches on her debut and showed promise in her first campaign on clay, traditionally the weakest surface for British players, two years ago.

 

Keothavong’s side are undoubtedly underdogs, particularly having lost to France at the same stage last year on hard courts in Coventry.

The home side are led by world number 23 Caroline Garcia, who recently defeated Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka on her way to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open, and Boulter said: “It’s a brutal match-up.

“We’ve already been in this place before and we had it at home. I think if anything it could help us, we are completely the underdogs. I think we’ve got a free swing.

“Garcia is clearly playing some very good tennis right now. But it’s another Billie Jean King Cup tie, anything can happen.

“We’ve got to keep it very realistic, it’s everyone’s first week on clay. It’s not my favourite surface but I’m very excited to get on it. I think we will come together as a team and keep trying to push each other and I’m sure we’ll play some really good tennis.”

Raducanu’s presence represents a boost for Britain compared to last year, as does the rapid rise of Boulter, who at 27 has surged into the top 30 for the first time.

The Leicestershire player lifted her second, and biggest, WTA Tour title at the San Diego Open last month and has won more matches against top-50 opponents in the first three months of 2024 than in the rest of her career combined.

“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind,” said Boulter. “In some aspects I’m surprised, in other aspects I’m not surprised at all, which shows that I’ve really put a lot of work in and I feel like I’m going in the right direction.

“I am very realistic at the same time. Not everything’s going to click every week. I think that’s where, going into the next part of the season (on clay), I’ve got a free swing, because it’s obviously something I’m not used to.

“It’s something fresh and exciting but this last month has been a massive, massive leap for me.”

The winners of the tie will qualify for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville in November.

Hollie Pearne-Webb has warned Great Britain’s rivals not to write off their chances of making it on to the podium at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Pearne-Webb won gold with Team GB in Rio in 2016 and captained them to bronze in Tokyo five years later, on both occasions against the odds.

Now the 33-year-old defender is targeting a third assault on the medals firm in the knowledge that they may have to do something unexpected once again.

 

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Pearne-Webb told the PA news agency: “Obviously I’ve been to the past two and been in a similar situation. It’s very similar to going into both Rio and Tokyo in terms of where we’re ranked, outsiders looking in.

“You probably wouldn’t expect us to be on the top of the podium when we get there, but I fully believe that we have the opportunity to be on top of the podium, just like I did going into Rio and just like I did going into Tokyo – and look what we did at both those Games.

“I’m really excited about the next few months.”

Britain, who will play in Pool B alongside Australia, Argentina, Spain, the United States and South Africa, open their campaign against Spain on July 28 having claimed the 12th and final qualification spot with a 2-1 victory over Ireland in January.

Pearne-Webb, who famously scored the winning goal in a final shoot-out victory over the Netherlands in Rio, is confident the nerve they displayed to edge their way to Paris will serve them well in the French capital.

“I always find Olympic qualification is more stressful than the Games themselves,” she said. “It’s been great preparation for us to be in those hugely pressurised moments of ‘It’s all or nothing’ in a game.

“We’ve experienced that now, we came through on the right side of it, thankfully, and that just puts a huge amount of confidence in the bank when we get to the Olympics this summer.”

Pearne-Webb’s comments came as she was unveiled as the chair of a new body which will give elite athletes a voice in the formation of sporting policies.

The Athlete Advisory Forum, a branch of the British Elite Athletes Association, will review proposals relating to matters such as coaching, culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, finances, representation, safeguarding, selection, social impact, support and welfare from organisations including UK Sport – which has made athlete input into policy development part of its response to the Whyte Review into allegations of abuse in gymnastics – and the BEAA itself.

Pearne-Webb is joined by fellow BEAA athlete board member and Olympic sprinter Asha Philip, former GB rower Alice Davies, para discus thrower Dan Greaves, bobsleigh Olympian Brad Hall, Scottish diver Grace Reid, men’s hockey keeper James Mazarelo, shooter Seonaid McIntosh, fencer Marcus Mepstead and retired sailor Kirstie Urwin.

“It’s a really good opportunity for something that’s across all sports, an opportunity for our voice to be heard,” Pearne-Webb said.

“We’re at a good place now, where there are many opportunities for us to have a say and give our opinions on various different things, so I think it’s a really good step in the right direction for what we need.”

Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson is convinced this summer’s Paris Games could give rise to a “new generation” of household names in British athletics.

The decorated Welshman secured a silver medal in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1988 Games in Seoul and five years later won gold at the world championships with a world record time of 12.91 seconds that would stand for 11 years.

Jackson, 57, accepts his friend Usain Bolt’s now hung-up spikes might occupy an unfillable place in athletics, but feels the sport is more than ready for new superstars to emerge – an occurrence he believes is only possible at an Olympics.

He told the PA news agency: “If we have a successful team, which it’s believed to be, and we get five or six medals, if we achieve a ‘Super Saturday’ as we did in London 2012, that will be another kick-start, because that signifies a new generation.

“We won’t be looking at Jess (Ennis-Hill), Mo (Farah), Greg (Rutherford) any more. You’re looking at the next generation, touching distance for all up-and-coming athletes, and us pre-historic athletes will be happy to celebrate their success.”

Bolt stepped away from competition in 2017, nine years after the 2008 Beijing Games where he became the first man in history to win 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds in world record times in the same Olympics.

The “fastest man on earth” would go on to defend his 100m and 200m titles at an unprecedented two successive Games at London 2012 and Rio 2016, becoming box-office viewing and one of the most recognisable names in sport.

Jackson said: “When Usain [broke through], it happened at the Olympic Games, so when you break through you have to break through on that Olympic level.

“The World Championships are great, fantastic, yes, but it’s that dream of the Olympic Games that will make it come true.

“[Usain] is once in a lifetime, seriously. As an athlete and a person, I’ve known him for a long time and he’s just brilliant. His professionalism is up and beyond. He’s just magic.

“When you see somebody with the physical talent like that but [also] the rest of the attributes to be a global superstar, you’ve just got to tip your hat to him.”

Jackson believes Paris’ proximity and UK-friendly time zone, combined with – unlike the coronavirus-restricted Tokyo 2020 Games – full houses and weeks of “wall-to-wall athletics” across both the Olympic and Paralympic Games could catapult his sport back into the spotlight.

Take your pick of talent, from Zharnel Hughes – tipped by Bolt himself as a contender for 100m gold in Paris – world champion Josh Kerr hoping to upgrade his 1500m Tokyo bronze, 2024 world indoor pole-vaulting champion Molly Caudery or Commonwealth T38 100m champion Olivia Breen, who Jackson feels has “stepped up her game” since winning T38 long jump bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Jackson, now a regular commentator, has spent plenty of time around para athletes and saw his career take off alongside that of fellow Welsh athlete and prolific Paralympic champion Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Still, he admits it was not until he became the international sports director for the Wings for Life World Run, which raises funds for spinal cord injury research, that he truly began to appreciate some of the specific challenges those affected face, from difficulties regulating temperature to insufficient government support.

The event, backed by Allwyn in a three-year partnership, takes place on May 5 this year, with everyone departing at the same time – midday in the UK – regardless of time zone across the globe.

Anyone can take part in the event, which embraces walkers, wheelchair-users and anyone else looking to test themselves against an in-person or virtual ‘catcher car’, covering as much distance as they are able.

Jackson’s advice to participants feels just as poignant for the Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes poised for Paris.

“You should (always) be slightly disappointed,” he said. “Let me come back, work a little harder, just go a little bit further.

“Nothing is ever perfect, but excellence is good enough.”

Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube will be intent on extending a proud tradition after being confirmed as the latest additions to the British sailing team for this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Heathcote and Grube will compete in the 470 class, which is making its debut as a mixed event having recently been the domain of three-time Olympic medallist Hannah Mills.

Mills teamed up with Saskia Clark to win silver and gold in the women’s category in 2012 and 2016 respectively before joining Eilidh McIntyre to retain her Olympic crown in 2020.

Heathcote, who will be the youngest sailor in the British team at the age of 22, said: “It gives me goosebumps knowing that I’m going to be a part of the biggest sporting spectacle on earth.

“The Olympics has always been the goal and the thing I project my inspiration and motivation towards, so selection is a box ticked on the way there.”

Grube, 39, will make his third appearance at the Games having previously competed in both 2016 and 2020 alongside Luke Patience.

Aside from Mills’ trio of successes, Team GB have also won four silver medals in the now-defunct men’s category since the 470 class was introduced to the Olympics in 1988.

Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “Following their fantastic silver at the recent World Championships I am delighted to welcome Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube to Team GB for Paris 2024.”

The selection of Heathcote and Grube takes the size of the British sailing team for Paris to 13, with the inaugural men’s kite category still to be added.

Great Britain will play Canada, Finland and Argentina in the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals in Manchester in September.

Leon Smith’s side will hope for a less nail-biting conclusion than in the same city last year, when Dan Evans and Neal Skupski saved match points to beat France in the deciding match in front of a jubilant record crowd, and the draw appears to have been relatively kind.

Canada, led by Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, were champions in 2022 but lack strength in depth.

Finland were last year’s surprise package, making it through to the semi-finals for the first time, while Argentina boast three top-30 players, but indoor hard courts should favour Britain.

The ties will take place at the AO Arena from September 10 to 15, with the top two teams progressing to November’s Final Eight event.

Having beaten France, Australia and Switzerland last year, Britain fell at the first hurdle in Malaga, losing out to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia.

Defending champions Italy will host a group in Bologna also featuring the Netherlands, Belgium and Brazil, while Australia, Czech Republic, France and Spain will contest a heavyweight Group B in Valencia.

The final group, containing Germany, USA, Slovakia and Chile, will take place in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.

Jessica Ennis became the first British woman to win indoor and outdoor world titles in athletics by taking pentathlon gold in Doha 14 years ago.

After triumphing at the 2009 World Championships outdoors seven months earlier, all eyes were on her as she attempted to back it up at the World Indoor Championships in Qatar.

The result was a new British, Commonwealth and championship record score of 4,937 points to finish above rivals Nataliya Dobrynska, Hyleas Fountain and Tatyana Chernova.

Ennis, who changed her surname to Ennis-Hill after marrying Andy Hill in 2013, won the 60 metres hurdles and high jump and took second place in the long jump and 800m to clinch a memorable victory.

The then 24-year-old, whose preparations had been disrupted by a foot injury, said: “I feel great to beat the three medallists from (the) Beijing (Olympics in 2008). It’s very special to win here and break the championship record.

“I had a great year in 2009 so everyone was expecting me to win.”

The Sheffield athlete finished second at the outdoor World Championships the following year but was promoted to first in 2016 after Chernova was disqualified for doping.

She then became one of the faces of London 2012 by winning Olympic gold on home soil.

She gave birth to son Reggie in 2014 but returned to the sport the following year and regained the world title before adding Olympic silver in Rio in 2016.

Ennis-Hill announced her retirement in October 2016 and was made a Dame in the 2017 New Year Honours.

Great Britain’s Phillips Idowu won gold in the triple jump at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, on this day in 2008.

The 29-year-old Londoner smashed Jonathan Edwards’ 10 year old British record and came within eight centimetres of the then world indoor record.

Sporting a designer red hairstyle, Idowu opened with a jump of 17.10m before going out to 17.75m with his second.

He matched his previous personal best of 17.56m in the third round and jumped 17.45m in the next before sitting out the fifth and fouling with his final attempt.

By that point he had already done enough to see off the challenge of former world junior champion David Giralt and the previous year’s world outdoor gold medallist Nelson Evora.

Idowu was presented with his medal by former world and Olympic champion Edwards.

He said: “I knew it was going to be hard beforehand, so I kept on going.

“I wanted to see what sort of shape I was in after four or five months of hard winter work – and obviously it’s a very good one.”

UK Sport has outlined ambitions for the United Kingdom to host its first FIFA Women’s World Cup in the 2030s.

The global showpiece is the biggest sporting event the UK has never held, and one of several new additions to the funding body’s latest list of major event hosting targets alongside a World Athletics Championship in 2029 or 2031 and a men’s Rugby World Cup in 2035 or 2039.

The target list comprises 70 events – including 18 world championships – across 32 sports taking place between 2024 and 2040, and while inclusion on the list is just the first of a number of steps before a decision to bid is made, it marks another move forward.

Esther Britten, head of major events at UK Sport, said: “If we had this list without [the Women’s World Cup] on we’d all be saying, ‘Why is it not on it?’. We want to explore this meaningfully in the 2030s and make the right decision about which iteration of the Women’s World Cup is one to go for.

“The environment that we land any of these women’s sports events in is one where we have athletes that are getting increasing cut-through, that are championing their sports, that are speaking out for their sports, and we have increasingly an environment where we have people who want to go and watch these sports.

“That’s why it should be on our list for consideration, but choosing the right time will be (about) the wider international relations factors.”

Every event is subject to a feasibility evaluation which considers factors such as chances of success, venue selection, bid process, financial contributions and costs, as well as the social impact potential.

Such a study would be the next step for the Women’s World Cup, which is currently on the list as an “opportunity” alongside a potential men’s Rugby World Cup.

Simon Morton, UK Sport’s deputy CEO, said it is likely stakeholders would gather after the 2027 Women’s World Cup hosts are announced at the 74th FIFA congress in May 2024.

A joint bid from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands is being considered alongside one from Brazil, while the United States and Mexico have also put themselves forward as co-hosts, while the 2031 hosts will be confirmed in 2025.

Morton said the 2027 host selection may help narrow down which of the next decade’s three Women’s World Cups could give the UK the best chance, while also needing to factor in the Lionesses’ prospects of success in each of those years.

“We have to respect the fact that there are other countries interested in hosting them, so the sort of political dynamics across international federations, in terms of where these events might go, is something that’s outside of our control,” he said. “So that’s why you see a little bit of an open-ended position.

“There’s definitely an aspiration to host the Women’s World Cup in the 2030s, but we need to see who FIFA will go with for that (2027) tournament.

“I haven’t met anyone who thinks that going for the Women’s World Cup is a bad idea, and I think most people would want it to happen as soon as possible, but we’re open-minded about when it might be in the 2030s.”

UK Sport is also exploring the possibility of establishing a new central body to help deliver events where sports and cities are unable to do so.

The Women’s World Cup is one of several events on the list that would also require government funding. Events can move into the feasibility study phase regardless of which political party is in power, but decision-making about investment will need to be taken by ministers.

Despite this being an election year, Morton was optimistic about securing support for major events no matter who the Prime Minister is by the end of 2024.

“I think politicians have a timeless understanding of the power of these events,” he said. “I don’t think the importance of live sport to this country, in particular, and to the people and communities of this country, is going to change, irrespective of who is in power.”

Every event on the list is either multi-gender or, where a men’s edition has been included, so has the women’s counterpart, with the 2031 or 2035 Ryder Cups also newly included having reached the live feasibility study phase, alongside the 2029 or 2031 World Athletics Championships and five other events.

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