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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 10:09 GMT
Deaflympics: Five to watch
Great Britain has sent a strong team of over 100 athletes to the Deaflympics, which begin in Melbourne on 5 January.

Over 3,500 athletes from all over the world will compete in 15 sports with Britain going for gold in eight of them - tennis, table tennis, badminton, athletics, swimming, 10-pin bowling and ladies and men's football.

BBC Sports looks at some of the athletes hoping to come home from Melbourne with medals.

DOUG RATHEY (Athletics)

At only 16 years of age, Doug Rathey is one of the youngest members of the British team in Melbourne and he is looking forward to the experience.

Rathey, a member of Giffnock North Athletic Club, will be competing in both the 800 and 1500m

Doug Rathey
Rathey is the Scottish Schools 1500m steeplechase champion

"I can't wait to represent my country and I'm going to do my very best for everyone who has supported and helped me along the way," he said.

"To be picked at this young age is absolutly overwhelming and I'm determined not to let down the selectors for their faith in me."

Rathey's biggest challenge in the 1500m will come from defending champion Javier Soto Rey but the teenager knows that anything can happen.

"I will be running against people who are older and have faster times than me but it is the time you run on the day that counts," he said.

"I'm going to go out there, give it my best shot and run as fast and as hard as I can and we'll see what happens."

DAN TUNSTALL (Tennis)

Tunstall, who is part of an eight-strong tennis squad, will be hoping to improve on his mixed doubles bronze medal achieved in the last Deaflympics in Rome in 2001.

The 26-year-old from St Andrews in Scotland works as head tennis coach at Devizes Sport Club and has a wealth of international experience.

The winner of two national titles, he helped the GB men's team reach the final of the 2003 Maere Cup, the Davis Cup of deaf tennis.

In 2004 he won a European Deaf Championship mixed doubles silver medal with 17-year-old Alex Simmons, who is also part of the Melbourne squad.

Tunstall also played at Wimbledon last summer in the first demonstration deaf matches to be played on the SW19 courts.

He is not the only member of his family hoping to make an impact in 2005. His sister KT Tunstall has just released her first album after appearances on BBC2's Later with Jools Holland programme and also at Glastonbury.

JO DAVISON (Athletics)

The 40-year-old from Sussex is the current European deaf record holder in the hammer and will be competing in both the hammer and discus in Melbourne.

Jo Davison
Davison is hoping to continue her good form in Melbourne

Davison only took up track and field athletics in February 2003 after an achilles injury put a stop to her road racing career and she will be Great Britain's only field athlete at the Deaflympics.

She has already made a successful transition to the hammer and in April 2004 marked her arrival by breaking the European record three times in one meeting in Crawley.

She was also a member of the GB team in the European Indoor Championships in Bulgaria earlier this year where she finished out of the medals in the shot and was also part of the 4x400m relay squad.

But she is hoping that her tough training regime, which has kept her busy at least six days a week coming up to the Deaflympics, will see her come away with a medal.


JANET THOMSON (Badminton)

Badminton star Janet Thomson is the most experienced player on the five-member team in Melbourne.

Her major breakthrough came in the 1994 European Deaf Championships in Denmark, where she won team bronze and was also fourth in the women's doubles.

In 1997 she linked up with Carl Sadler in the GB team that won silver in the team event at the World Deaf Games (now the Deaflympics) in Copenhagen.

But after winning European silver in 1998, they narrowly missed out on a medal in Rome in 2001, finishing fourth, and are keen to make amends this time around.

Sadler also has two European men's doubles golds after victories in 1998 and 2002.

NICK BEESE (Football)

Having represented Great Britain in the tennis competition in the World Deaf Games in 1997 and the Deaflympics in 2001, Nick Beese is now playing his part in the men's football team's bid for glory.

Nick Beese
Beese has concentrated on football for the last couple of years
The 26-year-old midfielder was born in Bath but lives in London where he is a key figure for Fulham Deaf FC, a team he set up in 2003.

He will captain the team in Melbourne, where he will link-up with fellow Fulham club-mates Andrew Drury, Ayad Sarraf and Ben Lampert as they bid to make up for GB's failure to qualify for the tournament in Rome in 2001.

The team have first to negotiate a tricky pool including Ireland, Greece and the hosts Australia but Beese, the son of ex-England and Bath rugby union player Mike Beese is confident of success.

"I believe we have an edge over all the other countries, and a squad equipped to bring home a gold medal," he said.





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