PSG News & Views
Let The Games begin......
Jamie Cunningham, CEO and founder of Professional Sports Group, previews the festival of sport starting in Rio today.
"It has not been a golden 2016 for the Olympic sporting movement. On the eve of Rio, there are way too many issues for what should be the ultimate sporting spectacle. However the pure sport will now take over from the politics and poor administration which has blighted these Games.
Olympic Sport is at the heart of our business. We passionately believe in the original ethos of Citius, Altius, Fortius.
That is why we represent Olympic athletes who work to be the best they can be - and who aim for that best to be better than anyone else on the planet.
Our clients are in good shape. They are ready. Here they are:-
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor has everything. She is the best all-round female swimmer in the UK, she is a great person, has model looks and she is a fighter (it's those Celtic genes!).
She has a big rival in Katinka Hosszú, who has dominated FINA swimming since 2013. But in the 200m Medley, Siobhan can challenge for the top of the podium.
Ross Murdoch is a winner. He loves the big stage. If anyone can ruin Adam Peaty's coronation or Cameron Van de Burgh's defence in the 100m breaststroke this weekend, it is Ross. We signed him because he loves the big stage.....He can make Scotland proud.
Chad le Clos is also a winner. His challenge is the greatest Olympic winner of all time called Michael Phelps - and the 2015 World Champion László Cseh. His parents' cancer has made this a dramatic and troubled build-up for him but hopefully it can also inspire him to great things in the 100m Fly and 200m Fly.
If you have not seen UNBELIEVABLE, our documentary by four-time Olympic Gold Medallist Matt Pinsent on Chad, please go to youtube.com/c/12WOneToWatch.
Chad's races are likely to be the most watched events in the pool for obvious reasons. Great rivalry makes for great sport. Chad is ready. May the best man win.
Fran Halsall deserves a special mention. She has been a client since she was 15! Unfortunately at London 2012, the plan did not work. But Fran brushed herself down, worked incredibly hard and is back for her third Olympics. She is swimming fast and she is in a great place away from the pool. On paper she is an outside shot in the 50m Free. She also is part of our strongest women's relay team (with Siobhan). But as we know, the Olympics is about performing on the day. And her biggest supporter? It is her fab dog called Blu!
Blu will go mental if she makes the podium! So will I to be honest...
The Downie sisters, Becky and Ellie, are in a great place. And you cannot have missed them in the build-up to these Games. In 2012 I bumped into Becky in Westfield Shopping Centre by the Olympic Park. We had a coffee during the Games when she was controversially not selected. She is such a class act and was insistent that we should represent her younger sister Ellie, as she was going to be a star. Well, she was right – but Becky can also become a star of Rio. She just needs to produce her form which saw her win European Gold a few weeks ago.
Stan Louloudis is the powerhouse of Team GB Rowing. That is why he is in the flagship Men's Four. Following success in London 2012 in the Eight Stan continued to combine the challenges of Oxford University, The Boat Race and British Rowing. Stan can hopefully take over the mantle of Matt Pinsent and Steve Redgrave in Rio.
The Brownlees are unique. They have dominated their sport since 2009 and, while 2014 and 2015 did not go to plan, they are back to their best. Alistair is the favourite to retain his title, but Jonny has other ideas. I have always suspected that one day Jonny will surprise everyone to win family bragging rights but the last seven years have shown that Al leaves nothing to chance. It will be a very competitive race and it is a high-quality field.
Non Stanford is another one of our highly talented girls with everything. A World Champion in 2013, her challenge is Gwen Jorgensen, the American who has dominated her sport for the last few years. However Non trains with the Brownlees in Yorkshire and has been taking notes!
Tom Daley may have recently left us as a client, but we take great pride in our eight-year role on his journey to Rio. Tom is in the best form of his life. No one will be cheering louder than me if he wins Gold.
Sam Murray has it all as well. A silver medallist in London, she was World Champion in 2014. She is very bright, quick-witted, a great public speaker and the camera loves her. Sam does the ultimate all-round women's sporting challenge. She is an incredible athlete. Have a look at her on instagram.
In 2016, Sam wants to go one better than London.....She can. It is about doing it on the day.
We are proud to represent one of the world's leading equestrian riders Natasha Baker. A top lady, who is truly inspirational, Natasha is planning for more Golds to add to her Double Gold in London. You will see a lot of Natasha on Channel 4 in the UK in their 'Dare To Believe' series. The Paralympics start on September 7th.
Rio will deliver a good Games. There is no question that Beach Volleyball and Rugby 7s are going to be the fun highlights. Here's also hoping that the Usain Bolt script has no glitches.
A final thought: I hope that the golf surprises. The sport has so many social challenges to face, and it needs a good Games. The leading men's players / administrators are way over par in the way that they have handled the Olympic opportunity to date. Ideally we need a Major winner such as Stenson, Watson, Willett, Kaymer or Rose to showcase their talents and take the sport on the same journey as Tennis. For the Women's game the Olympics provides a unique showcase: Can any of you name a recent Major winner? Can any of you name any of the Majors? This can be perhaps the biggest ever moment in Women's golf. Let's hope so.
Enjoy the Rio Olympics.