OLYMPIC hopefuls from Kirklees are on the brink of the world’s greatest festival of sport.
Five sportsmen and women will be among the 313 athletes from Team GB taking part in the Games opening ceremony at the Olympic stadium in Beijing today.
One of Team GB’s major gold medal hopes is the cycling pursuit team, led by Ed Clancy.
The 23-year-old, who used to ride for the Holme Valley Wheelers, is hoping to follow up a string of gold medals with Olympic success.
After picking up a team pursuit gold medal at last year’s World Championships in Majorca, the former Huddersfield Technical College student repeated the feat at this year’s competition in Manchester.
The world’s fastest paceman, he also led his team to a world record in the 4,000m event at the Manchester Velodrome in March.
That followed gold in Sydney, Beijing and Copenhagen in the UCI World Cup series of events.
Mirfield-born Wakefield Harriers athlete Emily Freeman will run in the 200m.
Emily, 27, former Greenhead College student was a promising under-17 athlete who won the indoor AAA under-17 200m title in 1997.
Emily made her senior international debut by running the third leg for the British 4x100m team at Glasgow.
She worked as a structural engineer for three years before going full time in athletics from October 2007.
Seasoned show jumping brothers Michael and John Whitaker, of Cumberworth, are hoping for victory.
John, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Tuesday, is one of the most admired riders in the world.
He has won 14 team medals at Olympic, world and European championships.
John formed a 14-year partnership with his horse Ryan’s Son, the highlight of which was a team silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.
Michael, 48, began competing on ponies at an early age before progressing quickly to horses, where he earned a reputation as a strong and determined rider.
In 1980, he became the youngest ever winner of the famous Hickstead Derby at the age of 20.
He was also part of the team which took Olympic silver in Los Angeles.
Dewsbury athlete Alistair Brownlee will be one of Yorkshire’s youngest representatives in Beijing after being picked for the men’s triathlon.
The 20-year-old, who has won world titles at junior and under-23 level, was selected after finishing third in the Madrid World Cup.
Alistair grew up as a runner, but always had a talent for swimming. In 2006 he was crowned World Junior Triathlon Champion and added the World Under 23 title to his growing collection in Vancouver just four weeks ago. A third place at the Madrid World Cup earned him selection.