Jonny Brownlee hails Yorkshire’s Olympic champions like Tom Pidcock and Jess Learmonth as stars come home for Team Yorkshire – The Homecoming
Yorkshire is getting even stronger as an Olympic and Paralympic force says one of its greatest champions, as the region prepares to honour its Tokyo heroes this weekend.
Jonny Brownlee, who added Olympic gold in Tokyo to the bronze and silver he won nine and five years ago respectively, believes Yorkshire has barely peaked when it comes to producing elite athletes who can win titles at the highest level.
Brownlee will join the likes of Kadeena Cox, Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Adam Duggleby, Hannah Cockcroft, Ellen Buttrick and Sue Bailey at ‘Team Yorkshire – The Homecoming’ at First Direct Arena in Leeds on Sunday afternoon (3pm-5pm).
Some of those names like Learmonth, plus cyclist Tom Pidcock and diver Matty Lee are new Olympic champions; the latter two only schoolboys when Brownlee was embarking on his first Olympics in 2012.
Back then, Jonny’s elder brother Alistair, along with Jessica Ennis-Hill and Nicola Adams were the Yorkshire stars lighting up London, with the younger Brownlee straddling both generations of champions.
“Don’t say it like that,” says Jonny. “It makes me feel old.
“To see these guys come through it makes you incredibly proud. Leeds is a great sporting city, and Yorkshire is a great sporting county.
“We’re even getting stronger, and that can only be a good thing.
“That’s why these homecoming events are good because you take time to recognise the Yorkshire Olympians and hopefully that inspires some more.”
One Olympian to catch Brownlee’s eye is Pidcock, the 22-year-old who won mountain bike gold in Tokyo.
“I knew Pidders when he was 10, he was that arrogant little kid on your chain gang, cheeky,” remembers Brownlee.
“It’s been brilliant to follow his career. He’s one of those guys who you know straight away that he’s got it. He’s got it in his heart, he’s got it in his lungs, he’s got it in his head.
“I don’t think people give him credit for how hard it actually is to turn his hand to anything; road, mountain bike. He almost makes it look too easy.”