GOLDEN WONDERS: In this awesome photoshoot, Andy Hooper immortalises seven British medal hopefuls, proving they’re worth their weight in gold
21:30 GMT, 27 July 2012
JENNA RANDALL, Synchronised swimmer
Jenna, 23, was swimming at two and took up synchronised swimming at seven. At 5ft 8in, her long limbs help her glide through the water while her incredibly strong hands are crucial for the 750 moves in a three-and-a-half minute routine. Lean and graceful, she maintains her physique with ten-hour pool and gym training sessions six days a week, and her diet includes crumpets and turkey for breakfast and big pasta dinners.
RACHEL CAWTHORN. Sprint canoeist
Born in Guildford, Rachel, 23, first got into a kayak at 15… but fell out. It didn’t put her off though, and she’s since become the first British woman to win canoeing medals – a Gold and a Bronze – at both European and World Championships. Her muscular frame combines strength and flexibility, and her 5ft 9in height allows for a longer stroke in the water. Rachel eats yoghurt, muesli and fruit for breakfast, with added honey to help burn excess fat.
TONIA COUCH, Diver
Plymouth-based Tonia, 23, has been diving for more than ten years since quitting gymnastics after dislocating an elbow. She and partner Sarah Barrow are the most successful British women’s pair
in 74 years, winning Gold at this year’s European Championships. Tonia has built immense core strength by training six hours a day, six days a week. She watches what she eats but still enjoys Chinese meals and McDonald’s.
ANNE KEOTHAVONG, Tennis player
After taking up tennis at the age of seven and enduring two career-threatening knee surgeries, Londoner Anne is now Britain’s No 2 female player. Standing 5ft 9in tall, the 28-year-old works on the
strength in her lower body, where huge amounts of power can be generated in the legs and hips before being transferred into a shot. Off court she is keen to pursue a career in the media and has done work with Sue Barker as a pundit.
MO FARAH, Distance runner
Somali-born Mo, 29, fled his war-torn country and moved to Britain with his family aged eight. He began running at school in London, winning five English junior titles. Famous for his sprint finish,
he runs 120 miles a week at an average of 5.4 minutes per mile, and uses an underwater treadmill and a cryogenic chamber cooled to -104C to aid recovery. Mo, who is 5ft 9in tall, has no strict diet but loads up on carbohydrates before a race.
TOM JAMES, Rower
Tom, 28, from Cardiff, won Olympic Gold in the coxless four in Beijing, and has won the Boat Race with Cambridge. His 6ft 2in frame gives him tremendous reach and pulling power, while his perfect rowing technique is founded in his muscular back. He was diagnosed with a heart complaint just before Christmas, but medication and careful observation have allowed him to recover. Rowers like Tom eat oatmeal and grains three hours before racing.
BRYONY SHAW, Windsurfer
At 29, Londoner Bryony is the only British female to have won an Olympic medal in her sport – Bronze in 2008. She learnt to windsurf aged nine, and in 2004 postponed her architecture degree to windsurf full-time. At 5ft 4in, Bryony is small for a windsurfer but has supreme balance. Her diet includes porridge for breakfast, light lunches of sandwiches or fruit and highprotein dinners – and she treats herself to a chicken tikka masala after competitions.
They look like shimmering statues, perfectly cast in 24-carat gold – the ultimate tribute to the physical perfection of Britain’s Olympians.
But beneath their glittering exteriors lie the flesh, blood and beating hearts of some of our leading medal contenders.
GB Diver Tonia Couch gets painted in gold by make up artist Natasha
Our awe-inspiring photographs are the result of an 18-month odyssey by the Daily Mail’s award-winning photographer Andy Hooper, who set out to ‘immortalise’ our athletes.
Dismissing the idea of a conventional
shoot, Andy persuaded them to take time out from their gruelling
training schedules to be covered from head to toe in gold paint and
turned into living sculptures. Visa, The National Lottery and the
Exchequer, who fund Team GB, helped Andy gain access to them.
‘I wanted to showcase as broad a range
of athletes as possible and do something totally different to what had
been done before,’ says Andy. ‘I wanted to immortalise them. It was
amazing to see how they were transformed once they were painted – Mo
looked like an Egyptian pharaoh.’
enlisted the help of leading make-up artist Natasha Bloom who, despite
years working with top models on cutting-edge fashion shoots, found
this to be her biggest challenge.
the athletes found a window in their intense training regimes, Natasha
had to drop everything. ‘I went from one extreme to the other – from
working on fashion shoots which can take a whole day, to suddenly having
only an hour to prepare these athletes,’ she says.
travelled to the Pyrenees where Mo Farah was doing altitude training in
an old ski chalet. I was constantly checking to make sure I had all the
kit I needed and that I hadn’t left anything behind as I knew we
wouldn’t get a second chance.’
Andy enlisted the help of leading make-up artist Natasha Bloom who, despite years working with top models on cutting-edge fashion shoots, found this to be her biggest challenge.
Achieving the authentic solid gold
look Andy wanted was made more complicated by his insistence that the
paint didn’t make the athletes feel uncomfortable or restrict their
movement in any way – a problem with most standard body paint. He also
wanted them as shiny as gold bullion.
Natasha came up with the idea of using ultra-fine gold pigment powder
mixed with baby oil. She applied it with a sponge and used gold spray to
colour their hair, going through more than 150 cans.
their kit, she explains, was the most time-consuming part of the
process and was done weeks in advance, with coat after coat needed for
the perfect effect.
course there were several Olympians who couldn’t find time to commit to
the project and even some superstitious contenders who declined to take
part, feeling that being painted gold would add to the already sizeable
pressure upon them ahead of the Games.
Tom Daley was one of those who politely turned down the offer.
‘I think once they see the end result, the ones who didn’t take part will be kicking themselves,’ laughs Andy. ‘One or two were a little apprehensive when the paint was going on, but they all enjoyed doing it. It was brilliant that they agreed to give up their precious time to take part.’
Natasha agrees. ‘The way they’ve been immortalised like this is spectacular. When they all looked in the mirror and saw themselves, they were stunned. Thankfully, none of them behaved like divas. I’m used to that in my job, but given the task in hand, they were all fantastic.’