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The best of young Britain: young talent to watch for

Vanessa Green
Yahoo Lifestyle
2 April 2012

There’s nothing quite like the next generation to make you feel like you’re heading for the glue factory. Luckily, the best of them do also provide us with a little bit of hope for humanity. So who will be presenting the Apprentice in 20 years’ time? And is there a Wimbledon winner on the horizon? We take a look at the next generation of talented, young whippersnappers. 

The next Sir Steve Redgrave

Tom Daley is probably one of our best-known up-and-coming sports stars – mainly because he won two Commonwealth gold medals at just 15. In fact, there’s not much that’s “up-and-coming” about him what with the medals and the plaudits (including BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year three years in a row).

With such an early start, there’s no reason why Tom shouldn’t replace Sir Steve Redgrave as Britain’s greatest Olympian. Sir Steve won a gold medal in five consecutive Olympics. Hopefully, Tom will get his first Olympic medal at London 2012 – although there has been some controversy recently, with Britain’s diving performance director, Alexei Evangulov, complaining that Tom was spending too much time with the media and not enough time training.

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Sadly, Tom’s father won’t be there. He died in May after a five-year battle with cancer. He was always a fierce supporter of his son, and had said he was determined to make it to the Olympics. Tom said on Twitter, “If I can be even half the dad my dad was to me then that would be my best achievement! I love you!”

The next Nigella Lawson

At just 13, Georgia Bradford won Junior Masterchef, creating a delicious menu that included fried sea bass and a stack of scotch pancakes. John Torode, MasterChef judge, described her as “a culinary dynamo” who is “truly gifted”.

Jamie Oliver was just 24 when he got his first cookery series on television, so Georgia still has a little time yet if she wants to beat that. She’s already professed a love of being on TV, but in the meantime, she’s dreaming of setting up her own catering college and restaurant in Cornwall.

Her mother, Vanessa, is right behind her. In an interview with the Daily Mail, she said, “She’s very forward, with a lot of charm, and I think she’ll be successful in whatever she does”.

The next Andy Murray

Andy Murray probably isn’t quite ready to give up being Andy Murray – after all, it’s not been all that long since he was the new Tim Henman – but if you’re looking to place your Wimbledon hopes in a younger Brit, Laura Robson is your woman.

Laura turned 18 in January having already won Junior Wimbledon. She’s currently the youngest player in the top 200.

She didn’t make it past the second round at Wimbledon last year, but we’ll all be crossing our fingers this summer. Who knows, maybe Henman Hill/Murray Mound will be Robson Rise some day.

Laura credits her success to her mother, saying in an interview with the BBC “She's always been there for everything to do with my tennis and I'm 100% sure I wouldn't be in the position that I am without her.”

The next Richard Branson

Richard Branson set up his first business at the age of 16, creating a magazine for students. Meanwhile, Lucie Balchin has just been named as Britain’s youngest shopkeeper at the age of 17. The teenager has ousted Junior Apprentice contestant, Zoe Plummer, who was 18 when her vintage fashion shop opened.

Lucie is the proprietor of The Crazy Cow, a gift shop in Modbury, Devon. She started the shop after saving her earnings from her part-time job.

But while the teenager is the leaseholder on the building, her mother has to sign all her business cheques – she’s too young to own a business bank account. Branson got similar support from his mother, who re-mortgaged the family home to pay off one of his business debts. Hopefully, Lucie won’t need her mother to do that for her!

The next Rebecca Adlington


Actually, Ellie Simmonds might argue that Rebecca Adlington is the next Ellie Simmonds. At just 13 swimmer Ellie won two gold medals in the Paralympics in Beijing, 2008. She has since won a total of eight major gold medals.

And that’s not all: the teenager has won BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year and received the MBE in 2009 at the age of 14 – the youngest person ever to receive that honour. She’s also set a couple of new world records and is on course for even more medals at London 2012. She’s making the rest of us look bad!

Ellie relocated to Swansea with her mother, Val, when she was 11, leaving the rest of the family back in Walsall. They return home every weekend to see the rest of the family – Ellie’s father, three sisters and brother. Val feels that the sacrifice has been worth it, “I think she was born to swim,” she recently told the Guardian.

Here’s hoping she does just as well at London 2012. Who knows, maybe she’ll end up being Britain’s youngest ever Dame.

The next Prof Brian Cox

It seems like our Brian’s everywhere at the moment – working over at CERN, making TV programmes about the stars and explaining science to a roomful of celebs. It makes you wonder how he finds the time.

Luckily, when the next generation of scientists is ready to take the reins, there will be more than one brainiac to choose from.

Five students from Cumberland School in East London have just become the UK winners of the “The Big Science Challenge” – a competition created by the British Council and Rolls-Royce.

The students were asked to design a solution to water wastage. Petros Akin-Nibosun, Yousef El-Tawil, Trieu Ho, Tobi Olaitan and Ishrat Jahan designed a plumbing system that gathers water from baths and sinks – and even the steam from your shower – before purifying it using UV light and recycling it in your home.

The teenagers won a trip to Dubai for their feat of scientific and engineering excellence. The winning students from the Middle East, meanwhile, won a trip to the Rolls-Royce factory in Derbyshire, which somehow doesn’t seem like a fair swap.

At the heart of Team Mum is the video series Raising an Olympian, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, profiling athletes from across the world, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic Games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Watch the videos on Yahoo! Lifestyle Team Mum.

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