THE ISLE of Wight’s Olympic star, Richard Jefferies, is just days away from making his debut at the greatest show on earth.
Richard, 25, formerly of Bembridge, only took up canoe sprint four years ago after being put through the UK Sport Sporting Giants fast track programme but will fly the flag for the Isle of Wight — and Team GB — in two events at Eton Dorney next week.
On Monday, he will take part in the C1 1,000m heats, and hopefully the semi-finals, and should he qualify, will be in the final on Wednesday.
For those who want to watch Richard in action, the heats on Monday start at 9.50am, with the semi-finals just before 11.15am. The final on Wednesday is at 9.45am.
The heats and semi-finals of his specialist event, the C1 200m, takes place on Friday morning, with the final on Saturday. All the races will be televised on the BBC, with the heats and semi-finals at 9.50am and 11.30am, and the final at 9.45am.
In addition to supporting by watching Richard compete, Islanders can send him messages of support via his Twitter account, @C1_Rich
Speaking ahead of the games, he told GB Canoeing: "The training camp in Barcelona was really good and allowed us to concentrate solely on training, cut off from all the excitement of the Games and in great weather conditions. It was then great to come back last week to go to the Opening Ceremony and visit the village and finally feel I was an Olympian. Now I am looking forward to racing."
The IW has its own canoe club, and although Richard is not a member, it is right behind the Olympian.
"We are all so excited for him," said IW Canoe Club secretary David Lutas. "Everyone at the club wishes him all the best."
Cllr David Pugh, IW Council leader, said "I wish Richard all the best in the canoe sprint event on Monday. The IW already boasts a number of Olympic medallists, including Shirley Robertson, Louis Attrill and Kelly Sotherton, and it would be fantastic if Richard can add his name to that list."
•The County Press website will have updates of Richard’s fortunes throughout the week.