Team GB’s hopes of collecting a haul of gold medals at the Olympic Games has taken a blow with the withdrawal of Amber Hill.
The skeet shooter has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence since the 2016 Games in Rio, where she finished sixth. Hill is now ranked number one in the world in her discipline, and won the silver medal at the shooting World Cup back in May.
The 23-year-old has tested positive for coronavirus, and will now miss the weekend’s qualifying event, which precedes the final on Monday. Hill is, understandably, ‘absolutely devastated’ to miss out.
“There are no words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” she said.
“After five years of training and preparation, I’m absolutely devastated to say that last night I received a positive Covid-19 test, meaning I’ve had to withdraw from Team GB’s shooting team.”
There is slightly better news for Jessie Knight, the 400m hurdler. She was part of a group of six British athletes told to self-isolate after having contact with a positive case on their flight to Tokyo.
However, the 27-year-old has given a series of negative test results since, and has been given permission to continue training with her coach, albeit in a safe, socially distanced way.
And the primary school teacher recounted the moment she thought her Olympic hopes were over when she was approached by a Games official – assuming she too had tested positive.
“Initially my heart sank because I thought I was going to be told I had it,” she recalled.
“To be honest there was panic. I called my coach straightaway and I said ‘please don’t call my family,’ because I thought they would just go into panic mode too.
“There was only about a half an hour window where we didn’t really know anything, but the British Olympic Association was brilliant. They got us information really quickly.”
Briton’s Going for Gold
While Hill’s withdrawal is a hammer blow to Team GB’s medal chances, there is still plenty of gold medal potential in the squad.
There’s the golden couple of the British team, Jason and Laura Kenny. Both are expected to go very well in their respective cycling events, and the pair have plenty of Olympic pedigree to call upon them – they share ten gold medals between them already.
There are a number of hot favourites to win in the British camp, with Adam Peaty in the swimming and Jade Jones in the taekwondo chief among t them.
Other names to look out for include Liam Heath, who is the defending Olympic champion in the canoeing and who has posted the world’s fastest time this year in the K1 200m event, Max Whitlock – the two-time gold medallist in Rio, and Seonaid McIntosh, who is the reigning world champion and record holder in the 50m rifle shooting.
Team GB has a fine record in the boxing disciplines, and a high quality squad has been sent to Tokyo – the star among them is Pat McCormack, who is the number one ranked amateur welterweight on the planet.
And the equine events could also prove to be paved with gold for Great Britain, with a strong team looking good to dominate the showjumping discipline and Ben Maher primed for individual glory.