Leeds Sports Awards 2022: What victors such as Hannah Cockroft OBE and Archie Gray had to say

Sport has endured a trying period but the 2022 Leeds Sports Awards provided an opportunity for celebration as sporting stars of the city were honoured.

By Tom Coates
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 5:51 pm

Some of the most formidable athletes, coaches, clubs and administrators collected awards at New Dock Hall in a ceremony hosted by BBC presenter Tanya Arnold and Leeds Rhinos icon Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

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Leeds Sports Awards 2022: All the winners as Rob Burrow MBE, Hannah Cockroft OBE...

Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft OBE is a regular at the awards and was victorious in the 'Sportswoman: Disability' category having enjoyed a stellar year.

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Hannah Cockroft OBE did not go home from the ceremony empty-handed. Credit: SWPix

The 29-year-old managed to lower her world records across four separate distances and also secured two gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

She told the YEP: "It's just massive. Every year, I get to come here and if I get this award, it means so much.

"I'm a Yorkshire girl, I've got so many roots in Leeds. I might not be from Leeds but I'm part of the club, I've trained here for years, and to be up against Paralympic champions and world record holders, to still get this title is massively important to me and I feel so honoured. It's lovely to be back,

"Yorkshire's every part of me. I'm a really proud Yorkshire girl, it's the first thing I mention to anyone, that I'm from Yorkshire, if they can't tell from the accent!

"I wouldn't be here where I am without the support of Leeds City Athletics Club, without the coaches there and without Leeds in general. Just their support, getting behind me, the last 10 years have been a long 10 years but I'm still going and it's all thanks to the people that are there backing you up all the way."

A gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, which begins in Birmingham in July, is now in her sights.

She added: "I would love to go there and win the gold, it would be my first time at the Commonwealth Games, my first time representing team England and that last illustrious title that I've never before had the chance to go and get.

"That's the plan and then all the way on to Paris 2024!"

Among the winners, the Leeds United flag was flown by teenage prodigy Archie Gray. The 16-year-old has enjoyed a swift rise through the youth ranks at Thorp Arch and has been named as a substitute for the first-team on numerous occasions.

He told the YEP: "It's amazing. Everything that I've done this year has been recognised, I just feel amazing right now.

"I'm learning loads every day, every day in and out. It's a dream to work with all of them.

"Only a year ago, I was watching them on TV and stuff, they were my idols. I've supported Leeds my whole life, my whole family played for Leeds, it couldn't be any better."

The victor in the 'Sportsman: Disability' category was James Simpson, a crucial figure for the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League team.

A former soldier, he led the Rhinos to a treble before representing England in the Autumn Test series against France.

Simpson said: "It's huge. Nothing like this can ever be ignored. Our home city is recognising our wheelchair team - a team that, a few years ago, we just had Facebook Live videos for games and now we're live on the BBC. we're live on Sky Sports.

"We're doing things that we've never ever done before, we're breaking new ground and it's absolutely massive that people see us getting nominated and winning things like this to see how big this game is and where it can go."

A serious wrist injury forced Adam Smallwood into early retirement from diving but he has remained heavily involved in the sport as a coach.

He helps nurture some of the world's elite divers and his role in the development of the likes of Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher landed him the gong in the 'Coach: Performance' section.

He said: "I'm happy that a lot of the hard work, especially over the lockdown period, has paid off. This is more for the people that I work with rather than me but it's been really good.

"It's not been plain sailing but it's taken a team effort to get to where we are. We did the best we could, I feel like, in the Olympics. We're now two years out of the next Olympics so we're ready to start moving on and getting ready for that.

"I think diving, not just in the city but as a whole, is on the up. People only ever really watch it at the Olympics and when they watch it, they're like 'diving, oh yeah, we like diving'.

"The fact we've had success over the last two Olympics has been a big thing. Hopefully, that brings more people to want to come and try it within the city."

Amy Tran was named as the winner in the 'Student Sport: Community' section having dedicated countless hours to Leeds University Volleyball Club.

She has overseen a significant growth in membership and her commitment to the cause gave her the opportunity to be honoured on stage at the ceremony.

She said: "I wasn't expecting it at all! I just heard about it about a week ago when I got the email through.

"I started about seven years ago, volleyball isn't a very big sport so it was just local clubs, but I just fell in love with the sport and fell in love with the people.

"The community that's associated with the sport is just so lovely and so welcoming. It's what I'm passionate about."