Leeds Tokyo 2020 Olympic success hopes to inspire future generation of athletes

Coaches in Leeds hope that the inspirational efforts of the city’s athletes in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will inspire the next generation of sporting stars.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 4:45 am
Andrew Henderson, the head athletics coach at Leeds Beckett University

Great Britain won a total of 65 medals in this year’s Olympics, with 22 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze.

Leeds Beckett University alone has had 18 athletes compete at the Tokyo Olympics, alongside sportsmen and women who grew up in the city.

Andrew Henderson, the head athletics coach at Leeds Beckett University, said he still hasn’t processed the fantastic success the students and alumni have seen.

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Sarah Todd, Sports Development Manager at Leeds Trinity University

Mr Henderson, from Horsforth, said: “I think I almost need a bit of time to soak it all up and properly feel my feelings.

“I am buzzing for the guys, especially in the women’s 800 metres which was really good.

“It was great to see one of our students [Keely Hodgkinson] perform as well as she did and then also an alumni [Alexandra Bell] running in the same final as well and finishing seventh, running a massive personal best as well.

“It was a good day.”

Speaking about when the athletes received that call up to the Olympics, Mr Henderson said: “It is always impressive.

“I am the personal coach for Alex Bell and she got a call later than everybody else - I'm not gonna lie, I was basically in tears with happiness.

“It's the same for all the others that have made it as well.

“It's great to see athletes from Leeds Beckett who have gone perform as well as they have.

“We couldn't have asked for more.”

He now hopes the Olympic 2020 success will attract the very best sporting talent to the city.

Mr Henderson said: “I'd like to think this will encourage people to come to Leeds.

“It would be good for us if people wanted to train here and get better because it's what we ultimately want, especially with the new facilities that we have on campus which we want to properly utilise and make the most of.

“I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will attract some more really good athletes and help them develop and achieve what they want moving forward.

“Leeds is a great city. The people are great so that's a good attraction, and people here know their sports well, which helps as everybody knows what's happening whether it's triathlon, or Leeds United playing - everybody knows how good it is.“

He added: “I think the Olympics will help push kids towards sports, as long as clubs are still up and running, especially with the performances that we've had.

“My biggest problem at the moment is just making sure that we don't end up in another lockdown.

“As things have opened up a little bit more, we've got kids camps on campus as it's school holidays and it's great to see them again .

“We're at capacity as well on those camps, so that's a really really good sign, and ideally you want to have camps running alongside things like World Champs and Olympics so that kids can come along and try all the different sports.”

Sarah Todd, Sports Development Manager at Leeds Trinity University, said: “At Leeds Trinity University we believe sport is for everyone, and having local Leeds athletes qualifying and medalling at the Olympics is an inspiration to us all.

“We need to harness this passion and give everyone an opportunity to play and take part in sport.

“It’s great to see Leeds athletes represented so strongly on such a prestigious, international stage and celebrated worldwide.”

She added: “Leeds has developed a group of athletes into role models, and we will see the positive impact of the Olympics in years to come.

"From children and young people who will be inspired to give sport and activity a go, to students and members of the local community who will be encouraged to fall back in love with sport and join local clubs.”