26 Jun 2008

Follow Britain’s Olympic hopefuls in the second instalment of BBC One’s longitudinal documentary series Olympic Dreams

Lee Pearson

Lee Pearson

With the 2012 London Olympic Games drawing ever closer, many British athletes have embarked on the long journey towards fulfilling their ultimate goal of securing a place on Team GB and winning gold in front of a home crowd. Revealing just what it takes for these Olympic hopefuls to make the grade, the four-part documentary series, Olympic Dreams, co-produced with The Open University, begins on 15th July 2008 at 10.35pm on BBC 1.

Building on the success of the first series aired in December 2007, Olympic Dreams offers an insight into the world of elite sport and intimate access to British athletes’ lives - their gruelling training schedules, daily sacrifices, highs of victory, lows of defeat & injury, and the pressure of coping under the weight of growing expectation.

The athletes featuring in the series include diver Tom Daley; BMX world champion Shanaze Reade; Team GB Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team; heptathlete Jessica Ennis; table tennis players Paul Drinkhall and Darius Knight; young Welsh Gymnast Venus Romaeo; GB Junior Judo hope Ashley McKenzie; Paralympic dressage champion Lee Pearson; Team GB Women’s Rowing team and the elite Team GB men’s rowing Coxless Four. In this Olympic year, some of the British hopefuls are also hoping to qualify and make an impact at the Beijing Games.

During the series the unique relationship between coach and athlete is explored, as well as the role family and friends play in supporting the athletes through their preparation and training. It also offers insight into the nerve-wracking rounds of selection and competition and the sacrifices and opportunities the athletes experience in order to earn their place on the British Olympic Team.

Senior Lecturer in Sports Studies at The Open University, Ben Oakley, is the academic consultant to the programme, and said: “It takes about 10 years for an Olympic champion to develop – someone who is just the best in their field on the planet. They are very special people. Someone who is going to win gold in 2012 will probably be going to Beijing in 2008, or at least knocking on the door. Olympic Dreams shows how the athletes, and the people around them, sacrifice themselves for this unique opportunity.”

You can follow the journey of many of these athletes on the build up to Beijing and throughout the games via BBC Sport's Olympics website - www.bbc.co.uk/olympicdreams through a combination of news, reports, video clips and regular diary entries.

The associated Open University website at open2.net provides further video diaries from the competitors, extracts from The Open University’s sports courses and articles from those in the field.

Notes to Editors:

Preview DVDs are available upon request from BBC Sport Publicity.

Episode 1 - Parents/Parental Support
1. Tom Daley - British diver
2. Ashley McKenzie & Willesden Judo Club
3. Venus Romaeo – national gymnast from Cardiff

Episode 2 – Sacrifice and Opportunity
4. Shanaze Reade – Olympic BMX
5. Lee Pearson - Paralympic dressage
6. The Team GB Women’s Rowing Quad

Episode 3 – The Coach/Athlete Relationship
7. The Team GB Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team
8. Paul Drinkhall and Darius Knight – British Table Tennis players

Episode 4 – The Selection Debate
9. Tom Daley – British diver
10. Team GB Men’s Rowing Coxless Four
11. Jess Ennis - Heptathlete

The Open University
The Open University is the UK’s only University dedicated to distance learning. The OU has around 150,000 undergraduate and more than 30,000 postgraduate students. 10,000 of our students have disabilities. Nearly all students study part-time, and about 70% of undergraduate students are in full-time employment. Nearly 21,000 students study outside the UK. Since the first students were admitted in 1971, over 2 million people have studied with The Open University.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

Details correct as at 25.06.08 and may be subject to schedule changes.

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