TALENT 2006: Who will be the rising stars of 2006? Here, our experts reveal the faces to watch in art, fashion, politics, literature, film, design, music, food and sport

Fashion by Susannah Frankel

Roksanda Ilincic

'I'm not a girly girl. I try to make delicate, beautiful, feminine things but they're always slightly odd; there's always something a little unusual about them,' says Roksanda Ilincic, the 30-year-old, Serbian-born designer. In September, her collection " 13 dresses, inspired by vintage haute couture " was the surprise hit of London Fashion Week. A garment's idiosyncrasy might lie in the fact that it has a hugely oversized sleeve, for example, or is trimmed with roses so large they look like they hail from Brobdingnag. It might be a juxtaposition of two fabrics: the finest silk chiffon, say, nestling up against something rather more ropey from the local market. Then there's Ms Ilincic's penchant for violently clashing hues " she's happy to admit that purple and burnt orange has long been a personal favourite.

Ilincic studied applied arts in Belgrade and graduated from London's Central Saint Martins (CSM) with an MA in 2000, then set up her company in 2002. Her reputation has grown slowly but surely and her style " which Vogue describes as 'gracefully whimsical' " has become more assured. The designer herself wears 'mostly vintage clothing " oh, and my own things, of course.'

Others to watch

Gareth Pugh

Having presented a glow-in-the-dark collection for spring/summer 2006, Gareth Pugh's designs are never likely to be described as boring. Big fur pantaloons were suspended from leather harnessing for him, with a red leather studded all-in-one with one-eyed gimp mask for her. The 23- year-old is a CSM graduate and has assisted Rick Owens at Revillon, dressed Fischerspooner and collaborated with Nick Knight.

Marios Schwab

In a season of homages to Azzedine Alaia, Marios Schwab's offering will stand out: at 28 he chose a tough act to follow and carried it off with aplomb. Schwab's second collection (part of Fashion East at London Fashion Week) was entirely black, red and white and was big on hugging flesh and light on fabric, with zips, small panels of metal and underwear as outerwear.

Last year's prediction: Ann-Sofie Back has seen a boost in sales of her diffusion line, Back, and launched Back menswear. She is now in talks about a collaboration with 'a well-known high-street store'.

Comedy by Julian Hall

Mark Watson

Nominated for the Perrier Newcomer Award in Edinburgh this year, Mark Watson could easily have been nominated for the main award and would have been a deserved winner. A former member of the Cambridge Footlights the 25-year-old has been performing stand-up for just over three years but proved a hit, winning a number of prestigious competitions such as So You Think You're Funny. His stage persona is that of an absurdist Welshman but in fact he is from Bristol. His engaging style makes him an ideal MC, and his set is peppered with delightful if downbeat observations, such as: 'They say life begins at 40; the bad news is, it doesn't.'

In the past two years, Watson has completed two tests of comic endurance set by himself: his 24-hour show in Edinburgh 2004 and the following year at the Festival when he completed 2005 minutes. Both events produced inspired moments both from him and from the many fellow comedians who came to help him. A published author, Watson has been on his way up for some time but still has youth on his side, and with both radio and TV comedies in development, it looks like the next year or so will bring even greater rewards.

Others to watch

Laura Solon

The surprise winner of the Perrier Award, and the first woman to win it since Jenny Eclair in 1995, Laura Solon didn't quite come from nowhere. The 26-year-old's show was backed by a TV company and she had picked up representation from a big comedy agency. But one award does not make a career and the question is: can she deliver? Her character sketches elicit lines such as: 'Elephant and Castle: one place name, two broken promises.'

Danny Robins

Also making his Edinburgh debut in 2005 was Danny Robins, 29. He plays DJ Danny, a teacher who spins the wheels of steel in his spare time, and a pukka MC whose bootlegs include the Beastie Boys' 'Intergalactic' mixed with the theme from The Bill. Robins' radio work includes the Sony Award- nominated Museum of Everything on Radio 4 and his own Radio 1 show, One Click Comedy. He often guests on Jon Ronson's Radio 4 show, and should find an onscreen home soon.

Gardening by Cleve West

Sarah Price

Being quiet and self-effacing are not always the best attributes for a garden designer, in what is an increasingly competitive market, but the work of Sarah Price stands tall among the hype and trumpet-blowing of emerging wannabes. A graduate of Oxford College of Garden Design, her plans show a masterful understanding of space, form, texture and colour. Influences range from Piet Oudolf and Beth Chatto to the architect Carlo Scarpa and the landscape architect Dieter Kienast. 'I feel it's really important to keep engaged with visual culture as a whole,' she explains. 'The boundaries between different art and design disciplines are becoming increasingly fluid " anything can inspire.' Her hauntingly beautiful visuals " for which she was shortlisted for the Newlyn Gallery Garden Design competition this year at the tender age of 25 " soon had tongues wagging. She has worked for several top designers and some have offered her full-time studio work but her fine-art training (BA First Class Hons from Nottingham Trent) together with an RHS General Certificate and practical training at Hampton Court Palace have equipped her with everything she needs to go it alone.

Others to watch

Pip Morrison

Gardening, on its own, was not quite enough for Pip Morrison, who after a five-year course in landscape architecture at Edinburgh, went off for three years to restore the garden at Kerdalo, in Brittany. 'I loved it,' says the 29-year-old, 'but it wasn't what my schooling had been about.' So he came back to England and has since been working with Mary Keen on a number of projects including one at Chilham Castle, Kent. There, his skills as a landscape architect have been matched with his love of gardening.

Jeeun Song

Korean Jeeun Song, 34, is a qualified architect and landscape architect, and is now in her final year of the Kew Diploma. A scholarship took her to the British Virgin Islands where she worked at the J R O'Neal Botanic Garden and an iguana sanctuary on Anegada, re-planting native flora to provide food for the reptiles. Now settled in the UK, she's looking to start her own firm or join a design organisation.

Film by Roger Clarke

Ashley Walters

His performance as a troubled teen in Bullet Boy received universal raves in 2005. Now the erstwhile So Solid Crew rapper is set to expand his new acting career with roles in the 50 Cent biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin', the first of a new franchise based on a bestselling children's book Stormbreaker, and a London-based urban drama called Life'n' Lyrics for the BBC and Scion Films. The first of these gets its release on 20 January, and Walters, 23, takes on a smallish role as a friend of Fiddy. On 2 June Life'n'Lyrics gets a release. 'I play a guy called Danny, a DJ and producer, and the story's about two hip-hop crews from north and south London who compete in freestyle competitions.' Director Richard Laxton has already publicly praised his performance and his 'amazing instincts'. Seven weeks later, on 21 July, Stormbreaker is released. This film is based on the Alex Rider 'teen spy' novels by Anthony Horowitz. Walters plays an SAS soldier. Meanwhile there's also another album release in January and he has just recently read for Danny Glover's yet-to-be-announced project, a biopic of the 18th-century 'Black Napoleon of Haiti', Toussaint L'Ouverture.

Others to watch

Ben Wishaw

Best known as a stage actor (Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, the Old Vic's Hamlet), this year Ben Wishaw, 25, starred as Keith Richards in Stoned " for many the only good thing in it. In 2006 he has a lead in the new Chris Morris series A Box of Slice and the lead in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the adaptation of the Patrick Süskind novel helmed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), acting opposite Dustin Hoffman.

Kelly Reilly

After a slew of low-budget films in 2005, which peaked with Mrs Henderson Presents, Kelly Reilly, 28, returns to the stage with Piano/Forte by Terry Johnston, a play written for the 50th anniversary of the Royal Court. She is the youngest actress ever to be nominated, in 2004, for the Olivier Award (After Miss Julie). We'll also see her on screen, in Russian Dolls, a French film by Cédric Klapisch.

Books by Boyd Tonkin

Kamran Nazeer

In the future, bemused historians will look back on the affluent parts of the early-21st-century world and wonder why autism " its definitions, its causes, its impact on children and families " became such a key worry of the time.

They may decide that all the clinical and policy debates masked a wider anxiety about what it meant to be a full individual, and part of a family and community, in a society of new opportunities and new dangers alike. And one book that will help them (and you) understand our age of autism is Kamran Nazeer's Send in the Idiots, due from Bloomsbury in March.

Diagnosed as autistic at four, the boy from an itinerant Pakistani family (who was born in 1978) entered a state-of-the art specialist school in New York. His book looks back on the childhood and later lives of his fellow-pupils, and teases out the larger questions that lie behind all the wrangles over diagnosis, treatment and education.

This remarkable piece of true-life storytelling takes as its theme not disability, but humanity. Nazeer himself now works as a policy adviser in Whitehall.

Others to watch

Gautam Malkani

In the spring, the unmissable " and probably unavoidable " first novel will be Londonstani by Gautam Malkani. This debut created a huge buzz at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with publishers jostling to bid for the next big voice of contemporary London life. Londonstani (due from Fourth Estate in May) eschews the capital's trendier corners for Hounslow, where Asian kids from a variety of backgrounds struggle to avoid the curse of a job at Heathrow and perfect their rich and strange street-slang.

Nicola Monaghan

Coming from the drug-ridden estates of Nottingham, Nicola Monaghan's first novel The Killing Jar (Chatto & Windus, March) will not make the same sort of metropolitan splash. Yet this is another exuberant debut that reaches the parts of Britain mainstream fiction usually leaves alone. Monaghan reports in a thrillingly fresh, vital style on the hope and joy that survive in a land of Asbos and addiction.

Classical music by Michael Church

William Towers

With a tall and commanding frame, a piercing gaze, and that chiselled masculinity, the counter-tenor William Towers is tailor-made for stardom. And that is exactly what he has just achieved as Oberon in the Royal Opera's stylish new production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. His vocal trajectory has been unusually smooth: he was a boy soprano at school, and his voice just slid down a little " it never broke. And he's hot on the mechanics of it now: 'A fundamental change occurred to it three years ago,' he says. 'It had been a very nice pure English sound. But then I discovered that my lower register could work all the way up, and that I had a big vibrato and a big tone.'

Its dark timbre now is quintessentially masculine, which sets him apart from many other counter-tenors, and his stage presence is helped by his extra-curricular sporting activities. Next year he sings Apollo in Britten's Death in Venice for Frankfurt Opera, the title role in Handel's Poro for the Göttingen Handel Festival, and Ottone in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea at the Buxton Festival, plus sundry performances of the Messiah. At 31, his real career is only just beginning.

Others to watch

Helen Reid

At 27, Helen Reid is an impressive young pianist: the Debussy I heard her playing at Dartington Summer School this year had enormous authority and poise. Born in Yorkshire, and educated at Chethams and Royal Holloway, she has made a specialty of her prowess in German, introducing her own recitals in Austria. She's a pioneer, recording unknown works by Ignaz Pleyel, and an entrepreneur: for a concert at St John's, Smith Square, last month, she hired the orchestra and officiated, as the soloist.

Gwen-Ann Jeffers

Soprano Gwen-Ann Jeffers, 31, was set on her operatic career from the moment her mother took her to Mozart's Figaro when she was three: 'I sat there open-mouthed, wide-eyed.' Of West Indian extraction, she made the black singer Leontyne Price her first role-model; now she exudes comparable charisma. No wonder her Wigmore Hall recitals are packed.

Art by Michael Glover

Idris Khan

The photographer Idris Khan, 27, was born in Birmingham, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2004. His first solo show in a major London gallery is scheduled for September. Khan's work is enormously ambitious, pushing the boundaries of what photography can achieve, energising the photographic surface. Some of his early images seem to challenge particular movements in painting by the force of mimicry " the way he photographs a sports hall is reminiscent of the stark divisions of Abstract Expressionism; marks on a wall seem to evoke Pollock and spatter-painting. Recently he has experimented with the dense superimposition of images. It has been a subtle game of appropriation and re-making. One image shows us a view from the Empire State Building, looking down. This is a view we all think we know, but Khan has manipulated, thickened and blurred it to such an extent that it reminds us not so much of a particular place seen, as of a generic composite of the idea of such a place. 'What I am trying to achieve,' he tells me, 'is to do with the condensation of time, with the idea of how ideas of things change in our memories, which themselves fade in time ...'

Others to watch

Douglas White

Douglas White, 28, presses all sorts of unusual objects into his sculptures " a mannequin-like stump of tree fern from New Zealand; mop heads; shredded car tyres from Belize. In a recent show he turned a pair of semi-burnt- out recycling bins into ghostly, humanoid presences. His next major project, Icarus Palm, will be at the Cass Foundation for Contemporary Sculpture in the spring.

Ebru Erulku

The most dramatic body of work at last year's Royal College of Art graduate photography show was by German artist Ebru Erulku, 32, winner of the RCA Society and Thames & Hudson Art Book Prize. In her recent series of dramatic aerial portraits of London, furious swirls of cloud, underlit in oranges and intense reds, part to reveal the fragilities of Big Ben or the Millennium Bridge. Our next chance to see her work is at the Red Mansion Art Prize Exhibition in London.

Photography by Nick Hall

Gautier Deblonde

A regular contributor to The Independent Magazine, the 36-year-old French photographer Gautier Deblonde has been living in London since 1991. He first became known for his series of portraits of British artists at the beginning of the Young British Artist boom.

Next year he will be exhibiting his 'Arctic' photographs " beautiful, eerie landscapes of this strange place and portraits of the few people still living there, documenting the effects of global warming in a project for Cape Farewell with artists Antony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread and the novelist Ian McEwan " at the National History Museum in London and then in Liverpool at the Biennial.

He is currently working on a new collaboration with Ron Mueck " their first, which took as its subject the creation, shipping and installation of the sculpture Boy at the Venice Biennale, won Deblonde a World Press Award. The new work will be shown during the Edinburgh Festival at the National Gallery of Scotland, and will then move to the Museum of Art in Brooklyn, New York. A book of artists and their studios is also planned to be published in the autumn.

Others to watch

Muzi Quawson

The 27-year-old Muzi Quawson is studying for her Masters in Fine Art photography at the Royal College of Art and was this year selected as one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries (on show at the Barbican till 8 Jan). Mostly photographing dysfunctional youth culture, her main long- term project, 'Pull back the shade', follows the life of a girl growing up in upstate New York.

Diana Scheunemann

This 30-year-old German-born photographer took her first picture aged nine " it was of her mother on the loo. Last month she published Diana Scheunemann (Damiani Editore) " a sexy, funny, energetic and shockingly intimate look at her friends and acquaintances and the lives they lead. Championed by Rankin, Scheunemann has shown at his Dazed & Confused gallery. She has plans to exhibit in London and Bologna in 2006.

Pop by Fiona Sturges

Corinne Bailey Rae

Despite having the kind of careworn voice that might have sprung from the Mississippi Delta, 26-year-old Corinne Bailey Rae grew up near the banks of the River Aire in Leeds. The daughter of a West Indian father and a Yorkshire mother, her first musical performance was in the local Baptist church choir. In her late teens she joined an indie rock band by the dubious name of Helen, though their plans for world domination were scuppered when the bass-player became pregnant.

Indie rock's loss was soul music's gain, however. While working as a cloakroom attendant in a club during her final year of university, Bailey Rae got her first taste of soul and jazz. Since then she has developed an intimate vocal style that has seen her compared to Billie Holiday and Erykah Badu. In mid-November, on the strength of her aptly named debut single 'Like A Star', Bailey Rae was booked on BBC2's Later With Jools Holland where her fellow guest, the legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach immediately declared himself a fan. Within a matter of days, 'Like A Star' had become the Record of the Week on Radio 1. With an album due out in the spring, stardom is hers for the taking.

Others to watch

Mystery Jets

A father and son group? From Eel Pie Island? On paper, Mystery Jets (not to be confused with Jet, The Screaming Jets, The Warm Jets or indeed Joan Jett) aren't promising but they are that rare thing: a band that sound like no other. Together, Blaine Harrison, 20, his dad Henry, 55, bassist Kai Fish, 21, guitarist Will Rees, 20, and drummer Kapil Trivedi, 20, claim influences from Pink Floyd to Gregorian chant. And they use kitchen utensils as percussion. Absurd as it may seem, 2006 is sure to be theirs.

Kill The Young

The world is only just waking up to the Manchester trio of Gorman brothers " Tom, 23, Olly, 18, and Dylan, 21. The band have been together for seven years and have performed more than 300 gigs; now it seems persistence is paying off. After signing a deal with the French label Discograph, they have teamed up with Dimitri Tikovoi, the producer renowned for his work with Placebo and Goldfrapp. Think big choruses and even bigger riffs leavened by a hefty dose of self-loathing.

Architecture by Jay Merrick

Toh Shimazaki Architects

This summer will see the completion of a large, Modernist country house in Surrey which will, like a booster-rocket, propel this young south-London practice into visible critical orbit. The Open and Shut House will deliver a finely wrought fusion of sensibilities, and a specific response to the topography around it. It will not seek to be iconic, or hi-tech, or brutal. This is architecture that's not so much shock of the new, as shock of the subtle.

The Open and Shut House hasn't come out of the blue. Takero Shimazaki, 36, and his co-principal Yuli Toh, have already produced interesting blips on British architecture's radar. The design of a garden room and a conservatory for two London houses reveals the ability to produce clarity of form and material contrasts.

In every case, there are signs of a willingness to experiment with more than one architectural language " and to use them in such a way that the results lie somewhere between familiarity and strangeness. Toh Shimazaki's barrel-vaulted main entrance at York Hospital is a good example, as is their forthcoming 'village' reception zone for St James's Hospital, Leeds.

Others to watch

DRDH Architects

Daniel Rosbottam and David Howarth are at the rigorously intellectual end of new developments in Modernist architecture. They've already made their mark by very nearly scooping Building Design magazine's Young Architect of the Year competition, and by winning a competition for a large housing block in Hamburg. This scheme shows complete architectural confidence " and a desire to avoid flashy solutions. DRDH are very definitely going places.

Prewett Bizley Architects

Graham Bizley and Robert Prewett are interested in 'the latent beauty in ordinary or commonplace things'. This puts them firmly among British architecture's New Materialists. And firmness typifies their work: their new studio building in Newington Green, London, is a graphic conflation of post-Bauhaus facadism with a quite different, and rather engaging, materiality.

Politics by Andrew Grice

Sadiq Khan

The 35-year-old MP for Tooting is one of four Muslim Labour MPs. Since the London bombings in July, Sadiq Khan has emerged as an important bridge between politics and the Muslim community, which distrusts many politicians.

The Tooting-born former human- rights solicitor, chairman of civil liberties organisation Liberty, and Wandsworth councillor has impressed Labour colleagues since becoming an MP at the May election. He has an independent streak, as he showed when he joined the rebellion that defeated the proposal to allow suspected terrorists to be detained for 90 days without charge. He demolished the police's argument that the proposal would allow more evidence to be gathered, citing figures showing that no suspects freed just before the current 14-day limit had been rearrested since, and warned that ethnic-minority communities believe existing terrorism laws are used to target them.

Khan should continue to make his mark in 2006. But he may have to make the difficult choice between a careerist path requiring loyalty to the Government and the role of an independent backbencher who can continue to speak out.

Others to watch

Jo Swinson

In May, Jo Swinson, 25, won East Dumbartonshire for the Liberal Democrats. A tough operator, she has already made her mark, tackling Tony Blair at Prime Minister's Questions and appearing on BBC's Question Time. She believes women should climb the political ladder on merit. She has been appointed as a frontbench spokeswoman on culture, media and sport and could be an important asset as her party seeks to avoid being eclipsed by the Tories.

Edward Llewellyn

Chief of staff to David Cameron, and friend from both Eton and Oxford, Llewellyn, 39, worked alongside Cameron in the Conservative Research Department before taking administrative jobs in the international arena. Regarded as fiercely bright, a quiet but highly effective operator, the Europhile will be a crucial player for the new Tories.

Design by Caroline Kamp

Magnus Long, Gala Wright and Charles Trevelyan

This trio of designers only met at the Milan Furniture Fair in April. Exhibiting as part of the Hidden Art collective, they were initially drawn together by being on the same stand. But mutual respect and a desire to work in an environment where they could 'bounce ideas off each other' gave Magnus Long, 26, Charles Trevelyan and Gala Wright, both in their thirties, the idea to form their studio, Viable. By September the group had got their best products together and launched at London Design Week. Magnus Long's Standing Hanger was an instant hit, receiving plaudits from SCP's Sheridan Coakley, who described it as: 'Great British design' and catching the commercially astute eye of Paul Smith. The hanger was exhibited in the windows of Smith's Covent Garden store and Long was nominated for Best Newcomer at 100% Design. Charles Trevelyan's strongly graphic furniture and Gala Wright's sleek designs have had similarly soft landings " and hard sales. The future is looking very bright for Viable. Next year they plan to continue working on their individual designs and hope to take on some group projects. And they will exhibit on their own stand at Milan. All this in less than a year.

Others to watch

Clare Page and Harry Richardson

From Kebab Lamps, colourful bric-a-brac skewered on a vertical spike, to Flytip wallpaper, the couple, both 30, behind Committee have a witty take on our disposable culture. Commissioned by the British Council for their My World Exhibition and manufactured by Cole & Son, the wallpaper features a swirling image of rubbish. The fine art graduates are picking up on the anti-mass market blandness mood in design and doing it with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Next year they will exhibit as part of Design Mart at the Design Museum.

Ulrika Jarl

The 28-year-old Swedish born, but Brighton based, designer graduated last year. Inspired by the patterns and repetitions in nature her striking Romanesco pendant light is a luminous cream resin globe. She's already been snapped up by Habitat as one of their Young Designers and the light goes on sale in the spring. With that kind of backing her sculptural designs should find the wider audience they deserve.

Food by Caroline Stacey

Simon Hulstone

Simon Hulstone didn't set out to shake up Torquay. But his restaurant, Elephant, is nevertheless sending out ripples of excitement from the Devon coast. Wise enough not to frighten the locals with wild experimentation, the former Roux Scholar has won their trust and applause. Only a year after taking on the townhouse, running it his way and unadvertised, Hulstone has made Elephant the Good Food Guide's Devon Newcomer. He's always avoided London but the name of the South West Chef of the Year is spreading north and east.

At 31, Hulstone says, 'I consider myself young for a restaurateur.' And although not the owner of Elephant, he's in charge and pays the bills. 'It's matured me. I look at what the customers want and keep my style but keep my feet on the ground.' This means considered, accomplished and rewarding dishes such as mango sorbet with crab and avocado salad; pork belly and celeriac lasagne flavoured with horseradish; and a chocolate and olive oil truffle dessert, the bitter chocolate flavoured with hibiscus and sea salt. 'Industry hype is different from customer hype,' says the competitive and articulate chef. He's had the first, now he's ready for the next wave of attention.

Others to watch

Hwi Shim

Hwi Shim's nickname comes from a mispronunciation of the Korean. But Wizzy, her eponymously named, eight-month-old Fulham restaurant, has also established itself with unusual speed. It's the delicacy of her cooking and the persuasive case she puts for Korean food that have done it. The 32-year-old arrived here as an art student, worked part time at Nobu and Hakkasan, and is now also writing and photographing a cook book.

John Vincent

As a management consultant John Vincent saw how Burger King worked. As one of the three founders of Leon " the others are chef Allegra McEvedy and Henry Dimbleby " newsreader Katie Derham's husband is changing the face of fast food with healthy, happy meals. After the first central London Leon and another in the City, the third should open in March in Knightsbridge. By the end of 2006 numbers will have doubled.

Last year's prediction: Anthony Flinn. Opened a second restaurant at Flannels store in Leeds; his restaurant Anthony's won a 2005 Rémy Award for Excellence.

Sport by Matt Tench

Emily Pidgeon

When Paula Radcliffe set up an Athlete of the Month scheme on her website earlier this year, the first recipient of a £1,000 training grant was Emily Pidgeon, a 15-year-old middle-distance runner from Cheltenham. Like Radcliffe, Pidgeon is the bright and articulate product of a supportive middle-class family. She attends Cheltenham College " not the Ladies' College, but just as posh " and Latin was her favourite GCSE subject.

Pidgeon announced her talent in 2003 when she became the youngest distance athlete to represent Britain in a senior international. She began this year by becoming the first to win four successive English Schools' cross- country titles, and made her debut in the World Cross Country Championships at St Etienne, where she finished 20th in the junior section, one place behind the top European finisher. On the track this season, Pidgeon has shown outstanding ability in the relatively new women's event of the 3,000m steeplechase, but she made her mark in the 5,000m too, when she became European Junior champion. And this month she took silver in the junior race at the European Cross Country Championships. Pidgeon is entitled to her lofty ambitions.

Others to watch

James Degale

At 19, James Degale is still known as 'Chunky' because he was overweight until he turned to boxing. He is the English Amateur Boxing Association's 2005 middleweight champion and has won the Commonwealth Federation title at the same weight. In March he travels to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. A member of the Dale Youth club in London's Shepherd's Bush, the fighter has his sights on the Beijing Olympics.

Tom Rees

Tom Rees, the 21-year-old Wasps flanker, might already have been capped but for the ankle injury he suffered in September. Born in London and educated at RGS High Wycombe (as was Matt Dawson) Rees has caught the eye with his smart handling, instinctive long-range support work and sharp finishing. At 6ft and 15st 10lbs, he is not the biggest open-side specialist, but neither was Neil Back.

Last year's prediction: Christine Ohuruogu. She was part of the 4x400m team that won bronze in the World Championships at Helsinki. She also won two silvers at the European under-23 championships.

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