Let the Games begin! Time to back local Olympians

THE OLYMPIC Stadium, where the Games will be officially opened
THE OLYMPIC Stadium, where the Games will be officially opened

THE WAIT is over and the greatest sporting show on earth, the Olympic Games, will finally officially open this evening (Friday).

Now is also the time for the Dispatch district to throw its full support behind two ‘local lads’ gunning for glory at London 2012.

They are sprint hurdler Andy Turner and water polo star Sean Ryder, both of Hucknall.

Turner goes into the Games as the reigning European and Commonwealth champion over 110m hurdles — and also the World Championship bronze-medal holder.

But he has been hit by injury problems and only managed to finish third in the British trials, casting a cloud over his hopes.

However, the 31-year-old insists he has the ability and experience to get it right on the biggest stage.

After all, this is his third Olympics after competing in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. What’s more, he has made a habit in recent years of proving the experts wrong after he was stripped of National Lottery funding amid a conclusion he wouldn’t be able to win medals at major championships.

Turner, who grew up on Nottingham Road in Hucknall, will begin his campaign for glory on Tuesday August 7 when the qualifying rounds begin at 10.10 am.

If he makes it through, he will have to contend with the semi-finals at 7.15 pm the next day (Wednesday August 8) and then, hopefully, the final two hours later at 9.15 pm.

But little Hucknall will be represented at the Olympics way before that.

For Ryder (25) is part of the 13-man Great Britain squad who will open their campaign against Romania at 6.20 pm on Sunday at the water-polo arena in the Olympic Park in London.

Defender Ryder, who has been playing since the age of 14, is part of a team that will represent their country at the Olympics for the first time since Melbourne 1956.

They will play in Group B and other fixtures are against Serbia (6.20 pm next Tuesday); USA (6.20 pm next Thursday); Hungary (6.20 pm Saturday August 4); and Montenegro (6.20 pm, Monday August 6).

The top four from each group will go through to the quarter-finals when the tournament becomes a straight knockout contest.