THREE FOR RIO?

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A WEEK today, the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games takes place - but mark down the names of Joel Harvey, George Marsh and Maddie Mann as prospects for Rio in four year’s time.

The three Eastbourne track athletes are already recording achievements of Olympic proportions.

Joel Harvey, in particular, has had a past fortnight to be immensely proud of as he stormed to a podium finish in front of the Sky Sports cameras to smashed a club record.

First, Joel broke Eastbourne Rovers’ record for the 200 metres by finishing in an impressive 21.84 seconds in Crawley.

The record, which encompasses all age groups, had stood for around 36 years before the 16-year-old overtook it.

Ten days later, Joel headed to the Aviva English Schools’ Championships in Gateshead alongside George Marsh, who qualified for the competition at the event in Crawley just over a week earlier.

Maddie Mann had also qualified but, unfortunately, was unable to travel to Gateshead due to a school hockey trip to South Africa.

Representing Eastbourne, George and Joel performed exceptionally well in their respective races at the prestigious championships, which have marked the launch pad to many top runners, including marathon legend Paula Radcliffe, sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis, shot putter Carl Myerscough and triple jumper Philips Idowu.

George, running in the under-17 men’s 100m, finished third in his qualifying race with a time of 11.23 seconds to book himself a place in the next stage.

However, in wet and chilly conditions, George ran a little slower on the Saturday semi-final, finishing a respectable fourth but narrowly missing out on a spot in the final.

Joel, running in the U17 men’s 200m, eased through to the semi-finals after finishing first in his qualifying heat with a time of 21.95 seconds.

He ran an even faster race in the semi-final, clocking in 21.91 seconds for the runner-up spot.

That was enough to see him progress to an afternoon final that was broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Joel got off to a slow and nervous start, finding himself at the back of the pack after the first 20 metres.

However, a strong and controlled bend saw him propel himself into fourth place with 80 metres to go.

Joel closed in on the top runners, nipping into third place, but ran out of time as he crossed the line three metres behind the leader in an impressive third place.

He recorded another time of 21.95 seconds, the seventh consecutive time he’s broke the 22-second barrier, to take the bronze medal.

All three youngsters have worked incredibly hard and will no doubt be ones to watch ahead of Rio 2016.