THE city of Leeds is still basking in the glory of a truly ‘terrific Tuesday’, and the message from the city’s sporting stars is that the best is yet to come.
Team GB athletes representing Leeds amazingly sealed the city four Olympic medals in less than 24 hours yesterday with reigning women’s boxing champion Nicola Adams first guaranteeing herself at least a bronze by winning her flyweight quarter-final.
Pudsey gymnast Nile Wilson then became the first British athlete to win an Olympic medal in the high bar when sealing a bronze, before fellow Olympic debutante Katy Marchant then bagged her own bronze in the women’s cycling sprint event.
An incredible day for the city of Leeds was then given a further silver lining when Jack Laugher capped off a memorable few hours by adding a silver medal in the men’s diving 3m springboard event, adding to the gold medal he had earlier bagged in the 3m synchro event with Chris Mears.
With rower Paul Bennett having already won gold in the men’s eights, it means the city of Leeds alone has already bagged six medals in Rio – with the prospect of more to come given that brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are both strongly fancied to reach the podium in tomorrow’s men’s triathlon event. Fellow triathletes Non Stanford and Vicky Holland – who both train in Leeds – will then bid for glory in Saturday’s women’s triathlon.
Given that the majority of Leeds’ medallists still have their best sporting days ahead of them, the overriding message with Tokyo 2020 in mind is that there are many more days like ‘terrific Tuesday’ to come.
Marchant, who has exceeded all expectations at her first Olympics at just 23 years of age declared: “This is just the beginning I think. I never expected to win a bronze but I’m excited to get back, have a little bit of a break and then get working again and see what the next four years has got for me.
“It was a massive thing for me to get selected and I really had to prove myself in training and competitions we were doing locally to get the coaches on my side. To be walking away with a bronze medal, I just cannot believe it.”
Wilson, who is even younger at just 20, warned that his best was also yet to come, with the Pudsey gymnast determined to follow in the footsteps of Max Whitlock who has become the first-ever British gymnast to win Olympic gold medals after stunning victories in the men’s floor and pommel horse.
“I am going to come back bigger and better, get back to the gym and work so hard,” said Wilson. “This week has been a massive inspiration. I was just saying to my team-mate Brinn (Bevan), we want to be here every time, fighting for medals. We believe we can do it and I believe I can reach Max’s level and (all-around champion Kohei) Uchimura – my focus is all-around and I want to be the first name on the teamsheet.”
Reflecting on his bronze triumph, Wilson beamed: “It is a dream come true. It is something you train your whole life for and you dream about wearing these medals around your neck.”
Diving ace Laugher now has two to celebrate, and added: “I always knew that I could medal at this Olympic Games; my performances have been on the up since 2013/2014 really, I have just been rising each year. Obviously, doing it is a completely different story.”
The Brownlee brothers – plus fellow Leeds triathlete Gordon Benson – will now be looking to further add to the Leeds tally in tomorrow’s men’s triathlon which is due to start at 3pm. Reigning champion Alistair is odds on favourite to win gold.
Another of the city’s reigning Olympic champions, boxing star Adams, will then face old nemesis China’s Ren Cancan in tomorrow’s fly 51kg semi-final. Adams declared: “A medal means everything to me. I came here for a medal, but you know me – I always want the gold so I’ll be aiming for that. For Mo Farah to fall over and still get up to win, that just shows true grit and determination, but that’s what it takes to be a true champion.
“Even when you’re down you’ve got to find a way to get back up to win that medal.”