Fast forward 12 months and a new set of rising stars, both at home and abroad, are targeting 2022 as the year in which they emulate Raducanu and Brown and announce their arrivals on the world stage.
Name: Christ Tshiunza
Sport: Rugby Union
Profile: The 19-year-old Exeter forward made a major breakthrough in 2021 when he was called up by Wales for their Six Nations campaign, scoring the first try in their final match against Scotland. The 6ft 6ins Tshiunza has proven his versatility and is being tipped as one to watch for the future.
At international level, he is qualified to play for England, Wales or France, as well as his native DR Congo. In October 2021, he was called up to the Wales senior team for their Autumn international series against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
Name: Bruce Mouat
Profile: Bruce Mouat skipped his rink to a silver medal at Beijing 2022 after becoming the first person to represent Team GB in both the men's and mixed doubles curling.
Mouat started his maiden Olympic Winter Games alongside childhood friend Jen Dodds in the mixed doubles and the duo agonisingly missed out on a medal after losing to Sweden in the bronze medal match. In 2021, Mouat and Dodds were crowned world champions after beating Norway in Aberdeen.
That followed a silver medal at the men’s World Curling Championships as Mouat underlined his status as one of the world’s best curlers a year out from his Olympic debut.
Name: Leylah Fernandez
Profile: Leylah is a Canadian professional tennis player. She has a career-high ranking of No. 15 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), achieved on 6 June 2022. Fernandez won her first WTA Tour title at the 2021 Monterrey Open. As a 19-year-old, she finished runner-up at the 2021 US Open to fellow teenager Emma Raducanu, defeating three top-5 players en route to the final (including defending champion Naomi Osaka).
Leylah was in danger of being rendered an afterthought amid the understandable acclaim for Emma Raducanu in the wake of their historic US Open final. But the Canadian 19-year-old showed just as much potential and it would be no surprise to see her out-shine Raducanu in 2022.
Name: Kieran Rollings
Sport: Lawn Bowls
Profile: Kieran Rollings is hoping to put a frustrating 2020 Lawn Bowls season behind him as he continues to build for a second Commonwealth Games appearance on home turf in 2022.
Having made his Lawn Bowls debut for Team England at just 18 years of age on the Gold Coast in Australia two years ago. The Kettering Lodge Bowls Club player is looking forward to going back to training, having been unable to do so since lockdown was initiated,
“Lockdown has really affected us and our sport, Rollings said. “We have been unable to train or go to any lawn bowls facilities because they are basically run as businesses and they had to shut. They’ve only just been starting up this last week when the PM said businesses could start going back. So, practice and competition wise we haven’t done anything for the last two or three months and this outdoor season has been completely cancelled.”
Name: Leona Maguire
Profile: Leona Maguire is an Irish professional golfer. She was ranked 1st in the world on the women's World Amateur Golf Ranking from May 2015 until May 2016 and then from August 2016 until February 2018. Maguire's 135 weeks at the top is the longest in history.
As an amateur, Leona was nothing short of sensational. A three-time Curtis Cup player with GB&I, Leona is a two-time Olympian representing Ireland in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2017 she captured the Ladies British Amateur Championship title, becoming serial winner on the collegiate circuit too, Maguire sat atop the world amateur golf ranking for an incredible 135 weeks – the longest combined total at number one in women’s history.
Now at 27-year's Leona has made a name for herself with a record 4.5 points out of five on her Solheim Cup debut in September. She will now be aiming to secure individual success having yet to win on the Ladies European Tour or LPGA Tour, where she recorded five top-10 finishes in 2021.
Name: Keely Hodgkinson
Profile: Keely Hodgkinson, from Greater Manchester is an English athlete specialising in the 800 metres. At the age of 19, she won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, breaking the British record set by Kelly Holmes in 1995.
Hodgkinson was one of the break-out athletics stars of 2021 as she scooped the Diamond League title as well as 800 metres silver at the Olympics. But there will be no respite for the teenager who is intent on continuing her medal haul through 2022’s hectic schedule including the European and World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Keeley's current lead coach is Trevor Painter who has been working with Keeley since 2019.
Name: Savannah Marshall
Profile: Savannah Marshall is a British professional boxer who has held the WBO female middleweight title since 2020. As an amateur, she became the first British female world champion after securing gold at the 2012 World Championships. She has been nicknamed as the 'Silent Assassin' due to her shyness. As of October 2020, she is ranked as the world's second best active female middleweight by BoxRec and the fifth active super-middleweight by The Ring.
Savannah’s already successful career is set to achieve lift-off if she fights and beats her amateur rival Claressa Shields in 2022. The pair have not crossed paths since Marshall handed Shields her only defeat en route to winning the world amateur title in 2012, but the signs are they are set to clash next year.
Name: Zhao Xintong
Profile: Zhao Xintong is a Chinese professional snooker player. Long considered one of the brightest talents in the game, he won his first ranking title (also his first Triple Crown title) at the 2021 UK Championship, defeating Luca Brecel 10–5 in the final. With this win, he entered the top 16 in the world rankings for the first time at number nine, and became eligible to compete in his first Masters. He won his second ranking title less than two months later when he whitewashed Yan Bingtao 9–0 in the final to win the 2022 German Masters. In doing so, Zhao became only the third player in professional snooker history, after Steve Davis and Neil Robertson, to win a two-session ranking final without conceding a frame.
Snooker’s predicted Chinese takeover has been long in coming but the manner of Zhao’s march to the UK title in December 2021 strongly suggested he was ready to shake up the world rankings. Long touted by the likes of Jimmy White as the sport’s next big thing, Zhao will waste no time adding more titles.
Name: George William Russell
Sport: Motor Racing
Profile: George Russell is a British racing driver currently competing in Formula One for Mercedes. He was the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Champion for ART and the 2017 GP3 Series Champion.
He’s the driver with the motto: “If in doubt, go flat out”.
George Russell has lived by it in his F1 career to date, out-qualifying seasoned team mate Robert Kubica at all 21 Grands Prix in his rookie season, putting Williams back on the podium in 2021, and landing a Mercedes race seat alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2022.
That brilliant baseline speed served Russell well as he totted up titles on his way to Formula 1. The Briton stormed to the 2017 GP3 championship and delivered the 2018 Formula 2 crown under immense pressure.
Name: Alice Capsey
Profile: Alice Capsey is an English cricketer who currently plays for Surrey, South East Stars and Oval Invincibles. An all-rounder, she is a right-handed batter and right-arm off break bowler. In 2021, Capsey was voted the inaugural PCA Women's Young Player of the Year.
The Surrey 17-year-old starred in the inaugural Hundred tournament in 2020 and was crowned the PCA’s Women’s Young Player of the Year. Having been granted her first professional contract,
Capsey will be targeting more headline-grabbing antics in the Hundred, as well as cementing her status as one of her country’s brightest prospects.
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