Borders Olympians set to go for gold

A sizeable contingent of Borders sportsmen and women is in Tokyo for an Olympic Games spectacular likely to be like no other.

Can Jedburgh swimmer Lucy Hope capture a gold medal at her first Olympics?
Can Jedburgh swimmer Lucy Hope capture a gold medal at her first Olympics?

There was discussion earlier this week that the games, already deferred from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, could be cancelled at the last minute for the same reason.

The city will be in a state of emergency throughout the event, due to begin tomorrow, and Japan’s Olympics minister, Tamayo Marukawa, has already announced the games will be held without spectators because of an increase in Covid-19 cases.

There is still plenty of cautious hope that the tournament will go ahead, however, and the Borders is proudly represented in a variety of sports on water and dry land.

Lucy Hope, a member of the Great Britain Olympic swimming team, at a Tokyo 2020 Team GB kitting-out session in June in Birmingham (Photo by Karl Bridgeman/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

It will hopefully be a first Olympics for swimmer Lucy Hope, of Jedburgh. She was a late addition to the GB squad but fully deserved it after a succession of excellent relay performances, most recently in London, Glasgow and Budapest.

The region has two participants in another water-based sport, rowing, with Harry Leask, formerly of Heriot, winner of a bronze medal at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, in the men’s quad line-up. Previous world championship bronze medallist Maddie Arlett, of Selkirk, is a reserve in the lightweight women’s double sculls, the only event of its kind in the games.

Showjumper Scott Brash, of Peebles, tasted Olympic gold glory at London 2012 and is due to go again at Tokyo 2020 on board Hello Jefferson. Showjumping starts on Monday, August 2, with the medal ceremony on August 7.

On the hockey field, Sarah Robertson, of Selkirk, will be aiming to help GB Women to a second successive Olympic title.

Midfielder Sarah brings vast experience to the ladies’ line-up and starred recently for Scotland at the European championships in Amsterdam, where she won her 100th cap for her country.

The team’s first game will be against Germany at 9.30am this coming Sunday.

The Team GB rugby sevens’ squads can also count on experience from the Borders to help them in their quests.

Lisa Thomson, of Hawick, is a reserve in the women’s event, while former Melrose player Ross McCann is part of the squad for the men’s contest.