Ones to watch in 2012

2012 could be a bumper year for sport in west London.

As well as our football, cricket and rugby teams, we have boxers with high hopes. And there’s the small matter of the Olympics.

Here are some of the local sports stars we think can make their mark over the next 12 months:

George Groves
Hammersmith boxing prospect Groves, 23, enjoyed a superb 2011, beating arch rival James DeGale on a majority points decision and destroying Paul Smith in two rounds.

He is unbeaten in his 12 professional fights yet has played down his chances of challenging for a world title soon, as has his trainer Adam Booth. But the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion will certainly be one to watch this year, which is likely to start with a rematch against rugged Scot Kenny Anderson, who caused him problems when they last met.

Will DeGale and Groves meet again this year?

James DeGale
The Harlesden man, who won Olympic gold in 2008, bounced back from his ego-bruising defeat to Groves by capturing the European crown with a victory over Poland’s Piotr Wilczewski.

Unlike Groves, DeGale is keen to talk up his chances of quickly securing a world title, which he is keen to achieve in 2012.

Daniel Sturridge
Having established himself at Chelsea this season, 2012 could be the year Sturridge makes an impact on the international stage. Many Blues fans believe he should be playing through the middle, but on the right flank he has proved a handful for even the best Premier League sides.

David Stockdale
This could be the year the Fulham goalkeeper also makes his mark for England. If he does, the catalyst will have been the injury to Mark Schwarzer that led to Stockdale’s recent recall from a loan spell at Ipswich. Since returning to Craven Cottage he has shown his potential in a big way.

Toby Roland-Jones
A young bowler whose displays for Middlesex mean he is already on the radar of England’s selectors. They will be interested to see how he performs in the top division.

Smith is seen as one for the future.

Sam Smith
The son of ex-Wasps and England player Simon Smith has been developing well at Harlequins. An England Under-20 international, his performances on the wing have added to his growing reputation and he was recenty rewarded with a new contract at The Stoop.

Josh McEachran
The highly-rated Chelsea midfielder’s short-term future may lie away from west London, but in the longer term he looks set to make a name for himself at Stamford Bridge. The queue of clubs hoping to take him on loan is a sign of how well regarded he already is.

Stephanie Twell
Dubbed ‘the next Paula Radcliffe’, Twell’s year was marred by an ankle injury but her Olympic hopes remain intact.

The 22-year-old, who trains at St Mary’s College in Twickenham, won a Commonwealth 1500m bronze medal in 2010. She is likely to feature over the metric mile at London 2012 but has competed at international level over 3000m and 5000m, and could step up to the marathon distance as she matures.

James Tindall
If Great Britain are to win their first Olympic hockey medal since 1988, Tindall could be a pivotal player. The forward, who plays club hockey for Surbiton, has scored 56 goals in 126 appearances for England and GB.

Ouseph is eyeing Olympic glory.

Rajiv Ouseph
Ouseph, the country’s number one men’s singles badminton player, is aiming to fulfil his Olympic dream in 2012. The 25-year-old from Hounslow has worked his way back into the world’s top 30 and defends his British title in February.

Kerim Frei
The Austrian-born midfielder, who was raised in Switzerland, made his full Premier League debut for Fulham against Chelsea on Boxing Day and looks set for a bright future. With pace and skill in abundance, Frei is good enough to make a name for himself in the months and years ahead.

Matthew Briggs
Briggs’ performances since breaking into Fulham’s first team suggest he is well worth keeping an eye on. He became the youngest player in Premier League history when he made his debut against Middlesbrough aged only 16. Now 20, the left-back continues to make excellent progress.

Campbell has a decision to make.

Alan Campbell
The Chiswick-based rower is aiming for a gold medal in 2012, but since 2008 he has won world medals in the single scull – arguably rowing’s highest profile event – but failed to take a world title.

He must decide whether he has a better chance of an Olympic title in a larger boat, either the double or quadruple scull.

Jordan Turner-Hall
Another Harlequins player who recently signed a new contract, Turner-Hall is regarded by Quins boss Conor O’Shea as a better all-round performer now than when he was previously involved with the senior England squad. Still only 23, this looks like being a big year for the centre’s club and international aspirations.

Ashley Theophane (pictured at top)
Theophane’s journey from Feltham Young Offenders Institute to being the British light-welterweight champion is a heart rending tale – and his story could get even better. Another successful defence of his cherished Lonsdale belt will see the Kilburn boxer keep it outright and may pave the way for a world title shot.

Armand Traore
Deemed not good enough by Arsenal, the Senegal international is far from the finished article and needs to improve the defensive side of his game. But if he can get regular first-team football at QPR after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Traore could be a much improved player 12 months down the line.

Reeves impressed during pre-season.

Jake Reeves
The young Brentford midfielder’s sparkling pre-season performances suggested he has a bright future. His first-team outings have been limited, partly because of injury, but Reeves has plenty of ability.

Shaleum Logan
Captured on a free transfer from Uwe Rosler’s former club Manchester City, Logan is arguably the pick of the German’s signings since he took over as Brentford manager. The right-back has been troubled by injury and needs to work on his defending, but going forward he is already a player to be reckoned with.

Sam Robson
The Australian batsman, 22, was outstanding for Middlesex as they won promotion in 2011. Robson has an English mother and a UK passport and is intent on playing for England in the future.

Dean Inman
The 21-year-old Hampton & Richmond defender’s impressive performances suggest he is capable of playing at a higher level. QPR have had Inman on trial and a number of other clubs have him on their radars.

O’Meara has big plans for 2012.

Steve O’Meara
Another boxer with hopes of stepping up a level in 2012. Always regarded as a slick technician, O’Meara has suddenly started knocking people out – his last two opponents have been destroyed in the first round.

The 27-year-old light-middleweight, who was born in Shepherd’s Bush and lives in West Drayton, ended the year as southern area champion but has the British and Commonwealth titles in his sights.

Luke Willliams
Formerly on the books at Reading, Williams’ displays for Hayes & Yeading this season have attracted the attention of several clubs – including Swansea. If he maintains the form he showed in 2011, he is unlikely to be playing Conference football for much longer.

Nathaniel Chalobah
Chelsea could have another gem in this Sierra Leone-born England youth international, who turned 17 in December. Chalobah can play at centre-back or in midfield, and the early rounds of next season’s Carling Cup may be the perfect time for him to step up to senior level.

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