LONDON will mark one of Ballarat’s biggest athletic contingents at an Olympic Games.
Beach volleyballer Tamsin Hinchley rounded out Ballarat’s Olympic prospects this week when she staked her spot on the sand in London, alongside Sydney Olympic gold medallist Nat Cook.
Team Ballarat will feature eight athletes that have grown up or been educated in Ballarat.
A further two soon-to-be London Olympians have married Ballarat athletes and will compete in the same sporting discipline.
Plus there is Australian Opal Rachel Jarry, who developed her game two years ago with Ballarat Lady Miners in the South East Australian Basketball League.
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Buninyong paralympian Greg Smith takes the Ballarat tally to 12 in London.
Team Ballarat will pull on the green-and-gold in rowing, athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, shooting and wheelchair rugby.
Those assembled make a pretty formidable line up.
Four Ballarat athletes have stepped on a Olympic podium – rowers Anthony Edwards and James Marburg, racewalker Jared Tallent and shooter Russell Mark.
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Mark, formerly of Sebastopol Gun Club, is the only one of the four to have tasted Olympic Gold.
He achieved the feat in the 1996 Atlanta Games when he won the double trap.
London will be Mark’s sixth Olympic Games.
His wife Lauryn is also on the London-bound Australian shooting team and will contest the skeet event.
Veteran rower Anthony Edwards has collected two silver medals and a bronze from four Olympics.
He is driven in the hunt to capture an elusive gold in the lightweight men’s four.
Fellow former St Patrick’s College rower James Marburg won a silver medal in the men’s four in Beijing.
In London, he will row in the pairs.
Oarsman Tom Swann will make his Olympic debut in Australia’s marquee boat, the men’s eight.
Swann, who hails from New South Wales, was a boarder and Head of the Lake rower at Ballarat Grammar.
Tamsin Hinchley, nee Barnett, will also have experience on her side.
Hinchley, from Napoleons, made her Olympic debut in the 2000 Sydney Games as an indoor volleyballer and returned on the sand with Nat Cook in Beijing.
Cook is in line for a fifth Olympic Games and the first Australian woman to achieve such a feat at a summer Olympics.
Athletics Australia has long touted racewalker Jared Tallent as a major gold medal prospect.
Tallent, from Newlyn, won silver and bronze in Beijing for the 50-kilometre and 20-kilometre events.
His wife Claire will also be out in force for Australia in the women’s 20km walk in London.
Middle-distance runner Collis Birmingham is ready for his second Olympics.
Ballarat’s Birmingham debuted in Beijing and, based in London and the United States for a northern hemisphere summer, has fine-tuned his preparations for the 5000 metres.
Fellow Eureka athlete Kathryn Mitchell will make her Olympic debut in javelin.
Mitchell represented Australia at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games but has spent the past few years completely changing her technique to throw herself into Olympic contention under tutelage from legendary Russian Uwe Hohn.
Buninyong’s Greg Smith will make London his fifth and final Paralympic Games.
Smith won three athletic gold medals in Sydney. He is fired-up to lead Australia to gold in wheelchair rugby.