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Team Bermuda: your guide to our 2016 squad

Eight athletes will represent Bermuda in six different disciplines at the Rio Olympics, while two more will represent the island at the Paralympics next month. Stephen Wright takes a closer look at our 2016 Olympians.

Tyrone Smith

Sport: Athletics

At 31, it is unlikely Smith will still be exploding along the runway before hurling himself into the sandpit by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics rolls around.

Arguably the most charismatic member of Bermuda's team, Smith will be hell-bent on producing the best performance of his ten-year career in what will surely be his final Olympics.

He will certainly be confident of bettering his twelfth-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics; a frustrating night for the Houston-based athlete who fouled twice as he struggled to find his rhythm during the final round.

Not one to be trampled by self-doubt, Smith's unwavering confidence will have been boosted even further by his fourth-place at the Birmingham Diamond League in England in June.

Smith posted a season-best leap of 8.18 metres — the third longest distance he has jumped — to qualify for Rio and finish one centimetre ahead of Britain's Greg Rutherford, the defending Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion.

However, with the fiercely competitive Olympic field also including big-jumping United States pair Jeff Henderson and Michael Hartfield, Smith's medal chances in Rio are probably long shot.

Still, when Smith sands on the runway and stares towards the sandpit at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, he will undoubtedly believe he can at least have a say in the podium battle.

It has been six years since Smith jumped 8.22, his personal best, to win gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico, and he will probably need to go beyond that distance to be in within a medal chance.

No doubt he will also be keen to leave his imprint at the opening ceremony, although it is unlikely he will be able to top his entrance at the Olympic Stadium four years ago, when his “dancing man” performance caused a storm on Twitter.

Tre Houston

Athletics

Houston will be among six Bermuda athletes making their Olympic debuts in Rio, along with Cecilia Wollmann, Cameron Pimental, Shelly Pearson, Julian Fletcher and Rebecca Heyliger.

The 200 metres sprinter was the first of the local contingent to qualify for the Summer Games, posting a personal best of 20.42 metres at the Texas State University Friday Night All-Comers Meet in June last year.

He has enjoyed relatively pressure-free preparations from his training base in Houston, Texas, and seems to be finding form at the right time after setting a PB in the 100 at the Aliann Pompey Invitational in Guyana in June. His time of 10.28 was one hundredth of a second off DeVon Bean's 20-year national record.

Although he will be stepping into the Lion's Den at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, Houston does have experience of major competitions, having competed at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and last year's World Championships in Beijing.

The 26-year-old did not make it out of the heats at either competition, posting 21.39sec in Glasgow and 20.92 in Beijing.

With a personal best of 20.42, Houston will have again his work cut out to advance beyond that stage in the “Marvellous City”.

He will, however, have his mentor Bean, who is performing the Bermuda athletics coaching duties, as his sounding board in Rio, The pair have worked closely since Houston was a teenager.

Houston's sprint journey started as an eight years old, training under the tutelage of experienced youth coach Cal Simons with the Pacers Track Club.

He spent two years in London as part of world-renowned coach Tony Lester's sprint stable, before briefly returning home in 2013 when he completed a gold-medal sprint double in the 100 and 200 at the NatWest Island Games.

Since relocating to his namesake City soon after that triumph, the “Rocket Man” has found a home for himself at the Next Level Athletics under head coach Eric Francis and will be doing his utmost for lift off in Rio.

Flora Duffy

Triathlon

Duffy is without question Bermuda's best hope of a first Olympic medal since boxer Clarence Hill won the heavyweight bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games.

The 28-year-old maintains her chances of a podium finish are a “very long shot”, despite being ranked No 1 in the International Triathlon Union Series rankings ahead of gold-medal favourite Gwen Jorgensen.

Duffy and the two-times reigning world champion had an intriguing tussle in the World Triathlon Series in Leeds in June, with the Bermudian being chased down by her American rival during the run and having to settle for second.

Both triathletes suffered heartache at the 2012 London Olympics; Duffy crashing her bike in front of Buckingham Palace while leading the chase group, while Jorgensen, a sprint-finish specialist, experienced a flat tyre. Duffy finished 45th, with Jorgensen coming 35th.

Both athletes have come a long way since then, with Duffy coming a meritorious eighth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 before becoming the island's first medal-winner at a major competition for 12 years when she won bronze at last summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto.

In the absence of Jorgensen, Duffy added to her burgeoning list of credentials with victory at the Vattenfall World Triathlon Stockholm, beating Olympic rivals Andrea Hewitt, of New Zealand and Helen Jenkins, of Britain.

She became the ITU Cross World Champion at last year's Sardegna ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Italy, having placed second 12 months previously in Germany.

Duffy also finished third at last year's ITU Abu Dhabi Triathlon and is the reigning two-times Xterra world championship — the earthier off-road form of the sport.

Learning to race on her own while athletes from other countries can invariably work as teams has been an important part of Duffy's progression.

And as the only Bermudian competing in triathlon, Duffy will at a disadvantage against the “team tactics” of the bigger country's such as the United States and Great Britain.

But with the support of her family in Rio, as well Dan Hugo, her boyfriend and sometimes coach — who she credits for her scintillating displays over the past few years — Duffy will be quietly optimistic of delivering the performance of her life.

Cecilia Wollmann

Sailing

The youngest of the Bermuda team at the age of just 18, Wollmann's breakthrough into the international scene has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Wollmann reaffirmed her reputation as one of the bright young things of Bermudian sport at last summer's Pan Am Games, her first major competition at the senior level, where she twice led races before they were abandoned because of no wind,

She finished a respectable twelfth in Toronto and has built on that this year, placing 40th at the World Cup in Miami in January to become the first local woman sailor to qualify for the Olympics since Paula Lewin.

To put Wollmann's achievement into perspective, she is three years younger than Lewin was when she competed at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and may well be Bermuda's youngest Olympian ever.

Wollmann, who will be the first athlete to represent Bermuda at both the Olympic Games and Youth Olympics, has accumulated plenty of international experience over the past two years, with creditable performances at Sail Canada Youth National Championships in Kingston, Ontario, and the Youth World Championships in Malaysia.

Rio had not originally been in the forefront of Wollmann's thoughts; the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club sailor believed qualification for Toyko 2020 was a more realistic aim.

She is certainly well ahead of schedule in her development, and encouragingly her coach Christian Noe believes the light winds in Guanabara Bay could play to her advantage.

Having spent almost two years coaching the Argentina Olympic team at the same venue, Noe has plenty of local knowledge that should benefit his teenage charge.

Wollmann will likely have many Olympics ahead of her. Next year the Laser Radial competitor will represent her country in a very different type of sailing at the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in the Great Sound.

Cameron Pimentel

Sailing

Pimentel will join Wollmann as the island's two sailors in Rio, albeit through a very different route.

The 25-year-old was unable to qualify for the Laser class through the normal competitive channel but was awarded a wild card from the International Olympic Committee.

Rio is likely be something of a baptism of fire for Pimentel, who finished fourteenth in the Laser class at last year's Pan Am Games in Toronto.

That experience provided him with a true gauge of where he stood against some of the best in the world, including Robert Scheidt, Brazil's most successful Olympian, who is set for his swansong in Rio.

The past 12 months have been non-stop training and competing for Pimentel. He split his time between Buenos Aires, and Porto Alegre, Brazil, in preparation for the World Cup Regatta in Miami in January, where he missed out on Olympic qualification, finishing 71st.

In anticipation of receiving a wild card, he kept active and finished fourth at the Laser Midwinters West in Long Beach, California, in March before placing 96th at Princess Sofia Trophy Regatta in Mallorca, Spain, the following month.

Pimentel was still sweating on his wild card when he raced at the Laser World Championships in May in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, and was, perhaps understandably, not at his best during his 36th-place finish in the Silver Fleet.

But with his ticket booked for Rio, Pimentel has been able to focus in the gargantuan task ahead, having a pair of training camps in Guanabara Bay to get to grips with the conditions.

Under the guidance of his Argentine coach, Dino Weber, Pimentel would certainly love to spring a few surprises when he takes to the water below the stunning backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.

He has already raced competitively in the oceanic bay in January, finishing 44th at the COPA Brazil, the final event to be held at the Olympic venue before next week's competition.

Julian Fletcher

Swimming

In the absence of two-times Olympian Roy-Allan Burch, Fletcher will be island's senior swimmer in Rio.

Burch fell short in his courageous battle to achieve the qualifying A standard in the 50 metres freestyle, having suffered a horrific injury in March last year, rupturing his patella tendons in both knees.

Fletcher ensured Bermuda will a male presence in the competition, hitting the B standard in the 100 breaststroke at the Validus Bermuda National Championships at the National Aquatics Centre in May.

The 25-year-old recorded a personal best of 1min 02.47 at the meet, eclipsing his own national record, which he lowered to 1:03 in the earlier heats.

His performance went a long way towards dispelling the disappointment of narrowly missing out on reaching the B standard for the 2012 London Olympics.

Rio will be the third straight major multi-sport competition Fletcher has competed in, having represented Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and last year's Pan Am Games in Toronto.

He was unable to produce his best form in Toronto, failing to make the 200 B final after finishing seventeenth in the heats in 2:20.97. However, he did advance to the 100 B final, placing fifth in 1:03.60.

Fletcher faired better in Glasgow, achieving his objective of reaching the 100 semi-finals and placed fifteenth overall in 1:04.48.

Since Glasgow he has been honing his technique under esteemed coach David Salo as part of the Trojans Swim Club at the University of Southern California.

Last month Fletcher competed at the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships, winning silver in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, as well as bronze in the 50 and 200 breaststroke.

Reaching the semi-final could be a bridge to far for the affable Fletcher, the island's flag bearer at the Pan Am Games, although he will be hopeful of shaving a chunk off his personal best.

Rebecca Heyliger

Swimming

Heyliger will make her maiden appearance at major multi-sport competition in Rio.

The majority of Heyliger's international experience has come at the regional level, although she did compete at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India, in 2008, finishing 20th in the 50 butterfly, 22nd in the 100 freestyle, and fifteenth in the 50 freestyle.

The 23-year-old was the first Bermuda swimmer to qualify for Rio in the 50 metres freestyle at the Validus Bermuda National Championships.

Competing in a time-trial at the National Aquatics Centre with her Sharks team-mate Madelyn Moore, Heyliger finished in 26.13, four hundredths of a second faster than the B standard.

Her time was a personal best and faster than her national record of 26.58, although it did not stand as she was competing in a time-trial.

Heyliger expects Rio to be the “experience of a lifetime” and she will likely draw on lessons learnt at last year's Fina World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia, when she placed 57th in the 100 freestyle in 58.71.

She warmed up for the Olympics by winning four bronze medals at last month's Caribbean Island Swimming Championships in Bahamas in the 50 and 100 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke.

At the 2014 championships in Barbados, she claimed five medals, winning silver in the 50 fly, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, while winning bronze in the 100 fly and 50 backstroke.

Heyliger, who competes for Trojans Swim Club in California, was part of the 4x50 freestyle, 4x200 freestyle and 4x200 medley teams who won gold at the 2013 NatWest Island Games in Bermuda. Heyliger and the 400 freestyle team also added a silver at the same competition.

Shelley Pearson

Rowing

Pearson will become the first Bermudian woman to compete in Olympic rowing when she takes to the water at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in the heart of Rio.

It will be the realisation of a long-held dream and one Pearson feared had been snatched from her after undergoing nine surgeries over the course of just two years to combat an aneurysmal bone cyst.

The 25-year-old, whose health issues first surfaced in 2012 when she was at Harvard College, arrived at Oxford University two years later on crutches but was able to battle back to row in the Newton Women's Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford Universities last year. Pearson's Oxford, the overwhelming favourites, humiliated Cambridge with a 6½-lengths victory.

Pearson, who qualified for Rio after winning the Latin Olympic Continental Qualification Regatta in Curauma, Chile, in March, has enjoyed plenty of success in rowing despite her extensive health issues.

She won the gold medal in the United States eight at the Junior World Championships in 2009, as well as claiming bronze at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta with Harvard in 2010.

It was her father Kevin Pearson, the former Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby winner, who first suggested rowing to Pearson when she was aged 15, believing her height and powerful frame would be ideally suited to the sport.

She will not be the first Bermudian to row at the Olympics, however, with Jim Butterfield, a close family friend, competing at the Munich Games in 1972.

Pearson warmed up for Rio with a third-place finish in the B final at the World Rowing Cup III in Poznan, Poland, in June, where she faced many of her Olympic rivals for the first time.

She covered the 2,000 metres course in 7min 38.690, recovering from a slow start which left her in fifth place at the halfway mark.

PARALYMPIC GAMES

Jessica Lewis

Wheelchair sprint

Lewis is a strong favourite for a podium finish at the Rio Paralympics to be held from September 7 to 18.

The wheelchair athlete became the first Bermudian to win a medal at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October last year.

The 23-year-old claimed bronze in the T53 100 — her favourite event — in 17.40 finishing behind winner Lisha Huang, of China, in 16.29, and second-place Hamide Kurt, of Turkey, in 17.10.

She described the race as a “tough wheel' and will be expecting more of the same in Rio — the fifteenth edition of the multi-sport event.

Last year was something of a breakout season for Lewis who stormed to victory in the 100 final at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto.

The Bermuda High School pupil shattered the Parapan Am record with a time of 17.67 to make history as the first Bermudian to win a medal at a major international para-sports competition.

Her display eclipsed the previous best time of 18.18 set by her mentor Anjali Forber-Pratt, of the United States, at the 2007 Parapan Am in Rio.

Lewis, who was introduced to the world of adaptive sport at WindReach Bermuda in Warwick, became Bermuda's first Paralympian at the London Olympics in 2012 and finished eighth in all three of her races — the 100, 200 and 400.

Under the guidance of her longtime coach Ken Thom, Lewis will compete in the 100, 400 and 800 in Rio.

Yushae DeSilva-Andrade

Boccia

Yushae DeSilva-Andrade will become only the second Bermudian Paralympian when she competes in Boccia in Rio.

DeSilva-Andrade will be in action in the individual BCW event after rising to sixteenth in the world-rankings list after her performance at the World Open in November last year.

She finished tenth at that event in Cali, Colombia, advancing to the round of 16 after finishing second in her pool. She eventually lost to Hoi Ying Kwok, of Hong Kong.

Along with team-mate Steve Wilson, DeSilva-Andrade competed in the preliminary round of Boccia at last summer's Parapan Am.

A precision ball game related to bowls, Boccia is played by wheelchair athletes. DeSilva-Andrade was also introduced to the sport at WindReach Bermuda.

Making a splash: Smith will want to make his presence felt in Rio (File Photograph by Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

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Published August 06, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 05, 2016 at 9:00 am)

Team Bermuda: your guide to our 2016 squad

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