Swide chooses ten top young sports talents for you to watch out for. Some are already established names, some are on the cusp of greatness, but all of them are undoubted talents.
Katie Taylor, 24, boxing
Katie Taylor is an extraordinary athlete. She is current Irish, European and World Champion of women’s boxing. Her talents are not only limited to pugilism and she has also represented the Republic of Ireland in football. This year in the London 2012 Olympics, women’s boxing will appear for the first time as an Olympic event and in a very competitive field she will be the one to beat. History beckons for Katie.
Tom Daley, 18, diving
Tom Daley will carry the hopes of a nation and the eyes of the world upon him when he steps onto the diving platform at the National Aquatics Centre in London during the Olympic Games. Daley already made history at the Beijing Olympics when he became Britain’s youngest competitor, the youngest competitor of any sport outside of swimming and the youngest to reach a final. Daley is a prodigious talent winning two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Already a household name he makes this list by virtue of his age.
Andrew Wiggins, 17, basketball
Canadian Wiggins is a phenomenon in every sense. He has an all round game, shooting, dunking, dribbling, creating…. he can do it all. So confident is everyone in his ability to become one of the biggest names in the sport that it’s difficult to forget he still has two years of high school left.
Rickie Fowler, 23, golf
As golf’s number-one ranked amateur golfer during 2007 and 2008 when he turned professional he became an instant hit with his colourful attire and rebellious ways, a breath of fresh air for golf. He soon realised that the competition was a lot stiffer in the pro ranks and went on a winless run that that had some critics sharpening the knives. He stunned golf’s current golden boy Rory McIlroy last month though, when he came out on top of a play-off to clinch the PGA Tour title. Fowler has most definitely come of age.
Paul Pogba, 19, football
Pogba has long been heralded as the most talented footballer of his generation. His height and style see comparisons with compatriot Patrick Vieira. He was a key player on the reserve team for Manchester United this season scoring crucial goals and was fast tracked to the first team making his Premier League debut against Stoke City as a substitute for Javier Hernàndez. However all the faith paid to him by Manchester looks set to wasted as he looks almost certain to snub a new contract and head to Serie A winners Juventus who have been courting the French international for some time.
Mateo Kovacic 18, football Croatia, Dinamo Zagreb
The Croat has been compared to Diego Maradonna, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney. He is an exceptionally talented attacking midfielder that has local pundits all a-lather. This year he made his Champions League debut against Olympique Lyonnais and became the second youngest scorer in the competition. He has recently been linked with almost every big club in Europe including AC Milan, Juventus and Manchester City.
Jack Laugher ,17, (diving)
The British teenager will rival Tom Daley for the nation’s affections during the 2012 London Olympics with an even younger age. His talent is exceptional, he won two golds at both the European and World Junior Championships in 2010 and he recently received a perfect 10 for a reverse 3-and-a-half somersaults at the very venue in which he will compete in August, the National Aquatic Centre.
Bernard Tomic (tennis)
Australian teen tennis sensation is seeded 25th for this year’s French Open at Roland Garros. There’s no doubting the young mans talent on the court, having already secured a Wimbledon quarter-final. But his on court talent may yet be thwarted by his off-court behaviour which could yet see him in court. A stand off with Australian police over alleged traffic offences in his orange BMW sports car recently grabbed more headlines than his second round exit in the Rome Open at the hands of world number one Novak Djokovic.
Viktoria Komova 17, gymnastics
The Russian is the world uneven bars champion and promises to be one of the sensations of the London Olympics. Women’s gymnastics looks set to be as competitive as ever with a generous retro flavouring of Cold War bitterness between East and West. Russia stole the show two years ago with the World Championship title but this is an open a field as you could hope for. The battle between Russia’s Komova and the US’s McKayla Maroney is shaping up to be one of the battles of the tournament.
Ana Satila, 15, Kayak slalom
In Brazil, all other sports pale into insignificance when put beside the national obsession, football. However, once Rio was awarded the Olympics for 2016 the country suddenly realised the pressure was on for some real talent in other fields to compete for gold and save the nation’s blushes. Step forward Ana Satila, who at 15 has qualified for London and with that experience under her belt, should be a real hope for a home gold in 2016. She is the Pan American Slalom Championship so the expectations are not altogether unreasonable.