Toulson ready to make splash at Rio Olympics

Gomersal diver Lois Toulson has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Rio later this year.
Gomersal diver Lois Toulson has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Rio later this year.

Gomersal’s Lois Toulson has officially been included in Team GB’s diving team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

At just 16, 10m Synchro diver Toulson is the youngest diver selected in the squad and is preparing for her first ever Olympic Games.

She is joined in the squad by fellow West Yorkshire diver Alicia Blagg.

Three-metre Sychro Commonwealth Champion Blagg, 19, will take part in her second games having competed at London 2012.

For Toulson this is not her family’s first brush with the Olympic Games.

In 1958, Toulson’s Great Uncle, Staff Sergeant Colin Andrews was perhaps one of the most dedicated members to athletics within the British Army.

Starting as a member of his Unit Team, a Signals Regiment in Germany, he identified the team’s major weakness as being a shortage of hurdlers.

Andrews taught himself the technique required to be a hurdler and upon his return to the UK in 1958, was posted to the training regiment in Aldershot.

He enhanced his hurdling talents and began to pursue his athletic future in multi-event sport and in 1959, Andrews became a decathlete, entering into the National Decathlon Championships.

With multi-sport in its infancy, Andrews was tipped to do well in his first event against competitors mainly from Finland and he finished his maiden event in a respectable third place.

He was invited to compete in Finland where he won the competition, setting a new national record in the process and was invited to the National Decathlon Trials for the Olympic Games.

Again, Andrews finished in first place, breaking the National and Commonwealth records in the process and all-but assuring a spot at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Andrews never competed at the 1960 Games, despite the intervention of the national coaches and senior officials.

His figures placed him in the top 10 in the world for the sport and he may have gone on to claim an Olympic title in Rome, which was eventually won by American Rafer Johnson.

Andrews, who left the army as a major, saw his contribution to athletics recognised when he was awarded an MBE for his services to the cause and promotion of track and field athletics.

Blagg is one of seven returning Olympians in the 2016 squad, having competed at the London 2012 Games in the 3m Synchro, finishing seventh.

She and partner Rebecca Gallantree, booked their spots on the plane to Rio in February with a sixth place finish in the Diving World Cup in Rio.

The Commonwealth champions followed that success up with a third place finish at last month’s LEN European Aquatics Championships.