Source: Andy J Ryan/Team GB

Ambition Programme to take stars of the future to PyeongChang

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The British Olympic Association has announced its Ambition Programme for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games with seven young athletes and coaches getting the chance to experience the Winter Olympic environment this February.

The Ambition Programme works with the sporting national governing bodies to offer athletes and coaches, who aspire to compete at Beijing 2022, a unique opportunity to have an inside experience of an Olympic Winter Games.

The programme, which was first launched for Beijing 2008, is designed to replicate a first Games experience for young British athletes and coaches. All four of Team GB’s medals at Sochi 2014 were contributed to by Ambition Programme athletes and coaches, including Lizzy Yarnold and Jenny Jones and athletes from each Curling team. Ambition Programme alumni continued success at Rio 2016, where athletes went on to win 33 medals.

For the first time, the Ambition Programme will be working alongside global Olympic partner Toyota to deliver the programme. Toyota, who’s recent campaign ‘Start Your Impossible’ celebrates athletes’ commitment to facing challenges in their career and through the partnership work with the BOA to prepare the next crop of Team GB winter athletes for Beijing 2022.

Andrew Cullis, Toyota GB Marketing Director said: “We’re really excited to be partnering with the Ambition Programme. The best way to face any challenge that might seem impossible is to take that first step and through this initiative we hope to help the next generation of athletes take their first steps towards the greatest challenge of all, competing at an Olympic Games.”

The group will travel to Korea next month and will familiarise themselves with the Games time environment in Alpensia before taking in some action across the following five days, which will also include medal ceremonies, and visits to the two Olympic Villages, in the mountains and on the coast.

But before then, the athletes and coaches have been attending Kitting Out at adidas HQ to get an insight into one of the first parts of PyeongChang 2018, the process of getting kit and equipment prior to the Games.

An important and exciting moment for the athletes, young figure skating athlete, Lilah Fear said: “I feel very lucky to get the chance to go to PyeongChang and watch Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland in particular compete in that Olympic environment.

“It will be great to learn from them and how they handle that pressure. The Olympics is a huge step up from any other competition in terms of the scale and overall experience so to be able to be exposed to that without the pressure of competing will be a great help if we’re lucky to be selected to compete in four years’ time.”

James Howard, skeleton coach, said: “The Ambition Programme is a great opportunity to see what is required at a Games. From a coaching perspective it will be good to see what is expected at an event and what I can learn to develop my own coaching.

“I’ve been competing for the past five years but have recently moved into coaching. I’ve always enjoyed the analytical side of skeleton and the problem-solving element and get a huge amount from being able to help other athletes progress.”

A full list of athletes, their sports and the coaches are as follows:

Nick Russell (London), Figure Skating: Judge

Graham Newberry (19, from London), Figure Skating: Athlete

Lilah Fear (18, from London), Figure Skating: Athlete

Lewis Gibson (23, from Prestwick), Figure Skating: Athlete

James Howard (Windsor), Skeleton: Coach

Madelaine Smith (22, from Solihull), Skeleton: Athlete

Marcus Wyatt (26, from Honiton), Skeleton: Athlete

Lead photo shows: From left to right: Nick Russell, Marcus Wyatt, James Howard, Lilah Fear, Lewis Gibson, Graham Newberry, Jenny Cripps (Ambition Programme Lead)

Report Courtesy of Team GB