Just 200 days and counting

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Just 200 days stand between our top sportsmen and women and the opening ceremony of the 2012 summer Olympic Games in London on July 27.

In preparation terms that’s the blink of an eye for people as meticulous in their planning as heptathlete hopeful Jessica Ennis, 2008 Beijing gold medal sailor Paul Goodison or Great Britain men’s head basketball coach Chris Finch.

There are plenty of local storylines with a host of individuals or teams either being from or are based in Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire.

Inevitably the main focus of attention will fall on 26-year-old Ennis. The Millhouses-based European champion has been adopted by the nation as its favourite athlete and will be under immense scrutiny in the build up to her first event – the 100 metre hurdles – on the morning of August 3.

However, it could be Brinsworth’s Goodison that is a hotter favourite to win gold. The sailing will take place in Weymouth where Goodison has been living for the past eight years.

He knows the waters well off the Dorset coast and will feel he has the psychological edge over Australian rival Tom Slingsby, who could only muster a lowly 23rd place finish at the last Olympic Games.

In team sports the Great Britain men’s basketball will be led by former Sheffield Sharks coach Chris Finch – who is also an assistant at NBA side Houston Rockets.

Likely to be a key part of Finch’s squad will be former Silverdale school student Devon Van Oostrum. Point guard Van Oostrum, who will be 19 on January 24, plays in Spain with Tarragona, on loan from parent club Caja Laboral.

British volleyball is based at the Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport with hopes that the sport can make an impact in London.

Rachel Laybourne, who used to attend All Saints School on Granville Road, will be a vital member of the women’s team.

The boxing squad and table tennis are also being put through their paces in Attercliffe while the divers, including Star columnist Nick Robinson-Baker, have their home at Ponds Forge in the city centre.

The clock is now ticking for all these athletes and many more with links to our area.