The start of the New Year will quicken the pulse for athletes bidding to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics, with the Games just seven months away from starting in the French capital.
With only a short trip across the channel, Team GB will be expected to be backed by legions of supporters as their stars target further medal success.
Britain have finished as the top European nation at the last three Summer Olympics, with Tokyo 2020 seeing a haul of 64 medals, including 22 golds.
Team GB have set their sights on maintaining their status as Europe’s best and will have high hopes with several returning stars and new faces looking to make their mark.
Mail Sport takes a closer look at some of the new stars who could secure medals for Team GB at the Games, as well as a couple of international athletes targeting the podium.
Several new faces will be hoping to make their mark at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
Ben Pattison – Athletics
Britain secured a record equalling haul of 10 medals at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in 2023, matching their previous best from Stuttgart three decades earlier.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Josh Kerr earned the headlines with their heptathlon and men’s 1,500m triumphs, but the Championships also saw Ben Pattison emerge on the global stage.
Pattison secured a memorable bronze medal on his World Championship debut, securing Britain’s first in the men’s 800m since Peter Elliott’s silver 36 years earlier.
The 22-year-old, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, had feared for his athletics career after requiring surgery on a heart condition in 2020.
Pattison had been diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a medical condition which caused his heart to beat abnormally fast for periods of time. His heart rate was once clocked at a staggering 246 beats per minute.
Surgeons had to burn off some of his heart, with Pattison forced to take four months off the sport to recover.
Pattison will now look to win a medal at a third global event in as many years in Paris.
Ben Pattison claimed bronze in the men’s 800m on his World Championship debut in Budapest
The middle distance runner underwent heart surgery in 2020 before returning to the sport
Delicious Orie – Boxing
Team GB have been able to count on the men’s super-heavyweight division for medal success in recent Games.
Anthony Joshua memorably clinched gold at London 2012 before entering the professional ranks, while Joe Joyce secured a silver medal four years later in Rio. David Price and Frazer Clarke also secured bronze medals at Beijing 2008 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Delicious Orie will hope to continue Britain’s fine tradition in the event in Paris and underlined his medal potential by being crowned European Games champion this year.
Orie said his performances at the Games in Poland, which saw him book a spot at Paris 2024, have given him confidence ahead of the Olympics.
‘I know people will expect me to do the same at the Olympic Games, and I’ve got a year now to polish my skills, get better and keep building momentum,’ said Orie, who only began boxing aged 18.
Delicious Orie is aiming to replicate the success of Anthony Joshua at the Olympic Games
The super heavyweight has already won Commonwealth and European Games gold medals
‘A couple of years ago if someone would have told me I’d have achieved all this I’d have told them it was a huge ask but getting on GB Boxing and seeing the level of boxers they have produced and the medals they have won really cemented the confidence with in me.’
Orie, who was born in Moscow to a Nigerian father and Russian mother, has expressed his ambition to follow in the footsteps of his former sparring partner Joshua by becoming an Olympic gold medallist and heavyweight world champion.
The 6ft 6in super-heavyweight, who won Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham, was named Best Amateur Boxer of the Year by British boxing writers in October.
Emma Finucane – Track Cycling
The velodrome has been viewed as Britain’s medal factory with several Games of dominance – although Tokyo 2020 showed the rest of the world fighting back.
British Cycling, however, had struggled to be competitive at world level in the women’s sprint events following the retirement of Victoria Pendleton and Becky James.
Fellow sprinter Katy Marchant, a bronze medallist at Rio, had spoken of a lack of world-class female sprinters after Britain failed to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in the team event.
The prospects look far rosier now, with Sophie Capewell, Lauren Bell and Emma Finucane winning a silver medal in the team sprint at the World Championships in Glasgow in 2023. The trio had claimed bronze a year earlier.
Emma Finucane won women’s individual sprint gold at the World Championships in Glasgow
The Welsh star was also part of a bronze medal winning women’s team sprint squad
Finucane capped her breakthrough year by beating Germany’s Lea Friedrich to win the women’s sprint world title.
The 21-year-old became Britain’s first medallist in the event since fellow Welsh star James a decade earlier.
Finucane had shown resolve by bouncing back from a crash in the keirin event to clock a world record time at sea level in her 200m qualifying ride by going on to win sprint gold.
Her performances were further rewarded by being named as BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.
Kieran Reilly – BMX Freestyle
BMX Freestyle will be making its second appearance at the Olympics at Paris 2024 and Team GB will be hoping for more of the same.
Charlotte Worthington secured gold in the women’s event at Tokyo 2020, with Declan Brooks taking bronze in the men’s.
Hopes will be high that Kieran Reilly will be in medal contention following the 22-year-old’s stellar 2023.
Reilly beat reigning Olympic champion Logan Martin to win World Championship gold in Glasgow, two months after winning the European Games title.
The rider from Newcastle told PA in November that beating the reigning Olympic champion had given him the confidence he could also be on the top step on the podium in Paris.
‘The competitive mindset I have, the second I qualify for these Games the mindset and goal switches from getting there to getting gold and that’s always going to be the goal,’ Reilly said.
‘I think that gold is a good goal for me – I haven’t got my head in the clouds thinking that, and when I get to Paris that’s going to be what I’ve got my sights set on.’
Kieran Reilly was crowned men’s BMX Freestyle champion at this year’s World Championships
Reilly said he has gained confidence from beating Olympic champion Logan Martin in the final
Reilly, who last year became the first man to complete a triple kick flair – three full backflips with a 180-degree rotation – has also been notable for his eye-catching tattoos.
He told Olympics.com that he would compare himself to a tiger, with the animal depicted in his biggest tattoo on his back.
‘Growing up, I just always wanted tigers. Everyone I looked up to, all the athletes were tattooed,’ Reilly said.
‘My dad got tattoos, and I’ve always loved his. I’ve always wanted tattoos because it’s been the aesthetic of all the people I idolised.
‘The tiger on my back is definitely something I’d like to compare myself to. Having like a bit of a tiger and having that drive, but everything I got was just pretty much for aesthetic purposes.’
Penny Healey – Archery
Team GB last secured a medal in archery back at Athens 2004, with their last gold in the sport stretching back to the 1908 Olympics.
Penny Healey represents Britain’s best chance of ending that wait following an impressive year for the 18-year-old.
Healey spent much of the season as the women’s recurve world No 1 after winning the opening World Cup event at Antalya in Turkey.
She also clinched European Games gold in the individual and team events, with the latter secured with team-mates Bryony Pitman and Jaspreet Kaur Sagoo.
Penny Healey spent much of 2023 as the world No 1 in women’s recurve archery
Healey won a World Cup event in Turkey and earned double gold at the European Games
Healey later revealed the trio had eased their competition nerves by performing a series of ’embarrassing’ TikTok dances.
The teenager revealed she took up archery aged eight or nine after being inspired by the Disney film Brave, with the film’s female protagonist Princess Merida an expert with a bow and arrow.
Healey is also an animal lover, with British archer star revealing her family own three pet emus after an ‘impulse’ decision from her stepdad during a Covid-19 lockdown.
Beth Potter – Triathlon
Potter has previously represented Team GB at the Olympics after competing in the 10,000 metres on the track at Rio 2016.
She will be competing in a different sport at Paris 2024, which has led to Potter being included on our list.
Potter took the decision to switch to triathlon in 2017 and has emerged as one of the stars of the sport.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has enjoyed a stunning 2023, which included winning the Olympic test event in August.
A month later, Potter was crowned world champion after winning the World Triathlon Championship Series final in Spain.
With Potter and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Alex Yee already named on the team, Britain look well-placed to continue their Olympic triathlon success.
Beth Potter was crowned world champion this year and won the Paris 2024 test event
Potter and Alex Yee (left) have already been confirmed as part of Team GB at Paris 2024
Ellie Aldridge – Sailing
Kite foiling is one of two new sailing disciplines debuting at Paris 2024. The event sees athletes race above water on boards with hydrofoils, propelled by kites.
Ellie Aldridge will represent Britain in the women’s event after coming out on top in a tough selection battle.
Only one place was available per nation in the discipline, with Aldridge securing the spot by finishing second at the World Championships in August.
Aldridge also finished as the runner-up at the Olympic test event in Marseille, again behind France’s Lauriane Nolot.
The British star was crowned as European champion in Portsmouth in August and has hopes of taking the Olympic title next year.
Aldridge revealed after earning her Olympic spot that she targeted being a professional athlete when leaving her first school.
‘I said I wanted to be a professional athlete, not because I really knew what that looked like, but because I loved sport and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
‘I didn’t really think I’d actually make it to becoming a professional athlete, and I definitely didn’t have clue what kite foiling was.
‘But it’s crazy looking back at me as a kid, knowing that I have actually made that dream a reality and all my work over the past five years particularly has paid off.
‘I will be competing in my first Olympic Games, in a brand-new sport, and am hoping to win the first new gold medal for Team GB.’
Sha’Carri Richardson – Athletics (United States)
Richardson is among the international stars to watch in the summer, as the American looks to end Jamaican domination of women’s sprint events on the track.
An American woman has not won the women’s 100m title at the Olympics since Gail Devers at Atlanta 1996 – after Marion Jones was stripped of her Sydney 2000 gold.
Richardson will head into the Olympics at the reigning world champion in the event after winning gold in Budapest in a time of 10.65 seconds.
The 23-year-old also won gold in the 4x100m relay and bronze in the 200m.
Richardson will feel spurred on by missing out on competing at Olympics in Tokyo having won the US trials.
She had been expected to be a big draw at the Games, but missed out after being handed a one-month ban after testing positive for marijuana use.
Sha’Carri Richardson will aim to end the United States wait for a women’s 100m champion
Richardson claimed gold in the 100m and 4x100m at the World Championships in Budapest
Victor Wembanyama – Basketball (France)
The host nation will be represented by numerous stars at the Games, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe expected to feature in the French capital.
Basketball star Victor Wembanyama has also confirmed his intention to compete at the conclusion of his debut season in the NBA.
Wembanyama was the No 1 pick in the NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, with the 19-year-old carrying their hopes for the future.
The 7ft 4in star has set his sights on clinching gold in front of a home crowd.
‘Performing well at the Olympics would be a great story,’ Wembanyama told French media earlier this year.
‘I’ll be present at the Olympics, and there’s no other goal than gold.’
France were silver medallists at Tokyo 2020 after losing to the United States in the final.
With the US having won the last four men’s Olympic titles, a France upset win would be one of the stories of the Games.
Rising basketball star Victor Wembanyama will represent the host nation at the Olympics