Britain's Olympic debutants

While the Olympics represents a chance for established athletes to further etch their names into the history books, the Games equally provide a launchpad for others.

A total of 76 athletes will make up the British athletics team in Tokyo, by far the biggest of any sport Team GB are contesting. 

But who are the lesser names that we should be keeping an eye out for as their pull on the Olympic rings for the first time in their career? Ben Bloom takes a look….

Zharnel Hughes, 25
Men’s 100m and 4x100m

Hughes has the fastest personal best of Britain’s 100m trio, but false-started in the final at the British Championships. He is reigning European 100m champion and made the world final in 2019.

Oliver Dustin, 20
Men’s 800m

Dustin went from little-known future talent to Olympian in the space of a remarkable fortnight that saw the 20-year-old smash his personal best by almost two seconds to move top of this year’s world rankings (although his time has since been surpassed) before finishing second at the British Championships.

Daniel Rowden, 23

Daniel Rowden: The Rolls-Royce of British athletics


Men’s 800m

With one of the smoothest running styles in world athletics, Rowden is sometimes referred to as the Rolls-Royce of British athletics. He is a huge talent who has recovered from illness to be a global threat.

Josh Kerr, 23
Men’s 1,500m

The America-based Scot finished sixth at the World Championships in 2019 and cemented his status as the leading British challenger by claiming this year’s national title.

Tom Gale, 22
Men’s high jump

Gale has won medals at European Under-20 and Under-23 level, but Tokyo will be his first global championship at senior level.

Harry Coppell, 24
Men’s pole vault

Coppell had a major breakthrough when clearing 5.85m to break the British record and win the national title in 2020. This is his senior international debut at a major competition.

Callum Wilkinson, 24
Men’s 20km walk

Wilkinson won the world junior title in 2016 to become Britain’s first global champion in a walking event since 1964. He is second to Tom Bosworth in the all-time rankings.

Keely Hodgkinson, 19
Women’s 800m

A week after she was crowned British 800 metres champion at the age of 19, Keely Hodgkinson continued to prove herself a medal contender for Tokyo by smashing her personal best at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting to go third on the British all-time rankings.
Having beaten Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie, Hodgkinson took more than a second off her personal best to record a time of 1 min 57.51 sec in only her second Diamond League race. That was only good enough for fourth in a very fast event won by Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza, but it moves Hodgkinson up to sixth in the global standings this year. It also catapults her behind only Kelly Holmes and Kirsty Wade in the all-time British rankings.

Jemma Reekie, 23
Women’s 800m

British middle distance running is in rude health, including Jemma Reekie

Credit: PA

A European under-20 and under-23 champion, Reekie stepped up to the senior ranks in some style at the start of 2020 when broke the British indoor 800m, 1,500m and mile records in the space of a fortnight.

Jessie Knight, 27
Women’s 400m hurdles and 4x400m

The fastest female 400m hurdler in Britain this year, Knight originally retired from the sport in 2017 as she struggled to juggle athletics with a career as a primary school teacher. Her return a year later saw her balance dual careers, something she has managed with aplomb.

Sophie McKinna, 26
Women’s shot put

McKinna initially turned down British Athletics funding at the start of 2020 to continue her work as a prison officer, but has since become a full-time athlete. In 2019 she was Britain’s first female shot putter to make a world final for 36 years.