Magnificent seven aiming for medal glory in Glasgow

Jack Laugher
Jack Laugher
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COACH Ady Hinchliffe has described the diving dominance of Leeds as a “dream come true” on the eve of the Commonwealth Games.

Hinchliffe and fellow coach Edwin Jongejans will take seven City Of Leeds divers to Glasgow 2014 in Jack Laugher, Chris Mears, James Denny, Rebecca Gallantree, Hannah Starling, Alicia Blagg and Yona Knight-Wisdom.

The latter will represent Jamaica with the other sextet flying the flag for England and making up half of the team that also includes Tom Daley plus former Leeds divers Sarah Barrow and Oliver Dingley.

Matty Lee would have been another City Of Leeds diver heading for Glasgow but for having to withdraw from the competition through an elbow injury.

But 16-year-old Lee remains booked for a big future amidst exciting times for the Leeds club, who are on the crest of a wave approaching Glasgow.

The only stumbling block has been this week’s return journey from competing in the World Cup competition in Shanghai which led to an emergency landing in Siberia and subsequent overnight delay.

“For me, and I always say it, it’s a dream come true to have so many world class athletes,” a proud Hinchliffe told the YEP.

“It just means we are going to have a lot of fun and not only are we sending these athletes there but we are also starting to really impact on the competitions.

“With Jack getting a World Cup bronze medal in Shanghai it’s really putting Leeds on the map and obviously it puts us in a good light with the funding agencies of our sport. Hopefully, that will continue into next week with some of the younger divers contributing as well and it’s really good to see divers like James Denny. It will be great to see him in action along with our more big name divers. We’ll also have Yona diving for Jamaica and the Commonwealths are going to be quite special for us having so many people involved in so many of the events.”

After today’s opening ceremony, Leeds interest begins with a bang with tomorrow’s triathlon. As well as featuring dominant brothers Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee in the men’s event, Leeds-based Lucy Hall and Vicky Holland are in the women’s competition.

On the badminton court, Gabby Adcock, Andrew Ellis and Kate Robertshaw will also begin their bids for glory with Pontefract’s James Willstrop also beginning his squash campaign alongside Sheffield’s England flag bearer Nick Matthew.

One half of Leeds’ boxing brigade then swings into gear on Friday with Qais Ashfaq beginning his 56kg bantamweight quest. Nicola Adams begins her flyweight bid on Monday and Ashfaq said of the London 2012 gold medallist: “Nicola lost at the Europeans but she is No 1 in the world and, to be honest, she should definitely win the gold.”

Elsewhere on Friday, rising star Sophie Taylor will also bid for glory in the women’s 50m breaststroke with Pontefract’s Max Litchfield also taking part in the men’s 400m individual medley while Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf begins her squash assault. Leeds’ Emma Beddoes will be targeting glory in the same event.

Leeds also has strong representation in weightlifting through Jack Oliver and Sarah Davies plus Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad while Nile Wilson carries the city’s hopes in the gymnastics sphere.

On the athletics track, Laura Weightman bids for glory in the 1,500m with Wakefield’s Martyn Bernard in high jump action, Cleckheaton’s Sarah Holt in the shot put and York’s Jessica Taylor in the heptathlon.

An inevitably strong cycling assault is led by Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead alongside Burley-in-Wharfedale’s Scott Thwaites and Huddersfield’s Ed Clancy who is in men’s team pursuit action tomorrow.

York and Ripon Club’s Geri Buckley will be hoping to make a name for herself in shooting while Northallerton’s Daniel Reed also carries North Yorkshire hopes in table tennis.