NORTH WEST INSTRUMENTAL IN TEAM GB OLYMPIC SUCCESS
It’s official! The North West has pipped Greater London for the top spot of Team GB’s most successful region at Tokyo 2020. The area claimed the largest haul of medals from the Games (16), with Greater Manchester claiming half of those. And it has been so wonderful to watch so many of Manchester’s wonderful array of athletes standing on the podium.
Watching them reap in medal after medal for Team GB has been a real morale boost after a difficult year and a half. Moreover, it is a testament to and a just reward for the efforts and dedication put in by our fantastic athletes and coaches.
"the sound of mancunian accents on the airwaves has become commonplace at this year's Games as the city and its nearby towns lead the way in britains gold rush"-The Times
We’re here to join Manchester in celebrating the individual achievements of our city’s athletes and look forward to what’s sure to be a very bright future.
Charlotte Worthington - goldHailing from Chorlton, Charlotte Worthington took up a thrilling and tense final, ultimately bringing the gold medal back to Manchester as she landed the first ever 360 backflip in women’s competition!
What made the achievement more impressive, was that Charlotte suffered a heavy landing after failing to land the same trick in her first run. However, after swallowing her pride and having the guts to try the trick again Charlotte landed it in style, using the trick as the springboard for the rest of her amazing run.
Speaking after securing the Gold, Worthington said “It was incredible. I've not been doing that trick for that long, but we've been trying to find that big banger trick and when we found it we were like, 'I think this is the one' ". Charlotte followed up brilliantly, advising it was only the ever the gold she was going for by stating "it was either go big or go home”.
Keely Hodgkinson - silverAfter becoming the youngest Briton to win a European Indoor gold medal at the European Indoor Championships this year aged just 19, expectations were high for Keely going into the Games. Keely took the silver medal in a thrilling final setting not only a new personal best but smashing the British record - set by Kelly Holmes in 1995 - with a time of One minute 55.88 seconds!
After the race Keely was understandably “speechless”, going on to state “I wanted to put it all out there and I did that.”
Georgia taylor brown - gold, SilverFollowing a win in the one-off sprint triathlon race in Hamburg in 2020, Manchester born Georgia Taylor-Brown was in fantastic form heading into Tokyo. Georgia was involved in two events at the Games beginning with the women’s Triathlon.
Taylor-Brown joined Jessica Learmonth and Vicky Holland to represent Team GB. In hot, sticky conditions Georgia battled the elements, and a rear tyre puncture on the final lap of the bike section to storm to silver medal finish and claim the first Olympic medal of her career. As the realisation of her amazing achievement began to sink in, Georgia said “It could have been taken away from me, but I proved that I was fit, I was ready to go”. But she wasn’t done there…
Georgia was also chosen to be part of the quartet of athletes for the Olympic Triathlon Mixed Relay event, along with teammates Alex Yee, Jessica Learmonth and the vastly experienced Jonny Brownlee. In what became an ever-changing and gripping event, the group claimed a fantastic and well-earned gold medal in the Games’ first mixed triathlon. With Taylor-Brown using her experience from her first race to build an impressive 23-second lead at one stage. After the win, Georgia expressed “I knew I had to give everything that last run lap and give as big of a gap as I could for Yee.”
Beth Shriever & kye whyte - gold / silverRegularly training in Manchester at the excellent indoor BMX track at the National Cycling Centre (the only one in the country), Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte couldn’t have had better preparation going to Tokyo.
Kye set the tone for what was to come with a fearless run down the track, taking home the silver medal in a thrilling race. Whyte emphasized the level of commitment required after the race, stating “If you’re scared, you might as well pack your bags early…nothing was stopping me.”
Following Kye’s brilliant ride, Beth was up in the women's event, and lead from the front the entire way around the track in a barnstorming run. In a tense final straight, Beth kept the pace going and crossed the finish line as she started, in first, taking the gold medal along with her. Beth going on to say after the race that she “had nothing left at the end. I left it all on the track.”
Matt Walls - Gold, SilverA regular trainer at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre, Oldham born Matt Walls became Olympic champion at the first time of asking with a commanding performance in the Men’s omnium. The 23-year-old finished the event with a huge 153 points, 24 more than the second placed rider. Walls’ achievement made him the first male Team GB Olympic champion in the omnium, after Mark Cavendish's silver at Rio 2016 and Ed Clancy's bronze at London 2012.
Walls’ brilliant Olympic debut then continued as he followed up he’s gold with a well-earned silver in the long and grueling Men’s Madison event, helped by fellow teammate Ethan Hayter. Speaking after the event, the men advised how much they were suffering toward the end, but that they “recovered and finished with a flourish”.
james guy - gold (2)Born in Bury, James Guy headed to his second Olympic Games having already won two silver medals in Rio and was eyeing gold in Tokyo, stating ahead of the games “As a kid dreaming of an Olympics, a gold medal was my dream.” Aged just 25, James made his childhood dream come true, and twice over!
James, along with GB teammates Matthew Richards, Duncan Scott and Tom Dean won his first gold of the Games in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Medley, narrowly missing the world record by 0.03 seconds in an incredible swim! Luckily James wouldn’t have to wait too long to become a world record holder.
James dug deep to help claw back the lead to set up Anna Hopkin to swim for gold. Not only did they finish in first place they also won in a world record time of 3min 37.58sec! James noted after the event how “It did hurt pulling out from the individual butterfly,” and said, “but I made the compromise and I got a gold medal and a world record, so I’ll take that.”
stuart bithell - goldStuart Bithell, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, along with team-mate Dylan Fletcher headed into the final of the Men’s Sailing 49er’s Class in second place behind New Zealand. However in a thrilling race to the finish line, it would be Germany in the fight for the Gold. After a tremendous effort by Bithell and Fletcher, both men crossed the finish line ahead of Germany by a matter of centimeters. Bithell was delighted to add a gold medal to the silver he won at London 2012 expressing after the race how “it's mind-blowing to be sat here now being Olympic champions.”
josh bugajski - bronzeThis event had seen the Team GB men’s eight win two bronze medals at the World Championships, and the team would bring home the same colour again in Tokyo for the group of rowers including Josh Bugajski from Stockport.
The team started well, maintaining pace with reigning world champions Germany. At the halfway mark they were sitting in second place. However, a sprint to the finish line saw Bugajski and Team GB place third by a margin of one tenth to the German team, with New Zealand making a late push to take home the gold medal. After a brilliant effort all round, Josh took to twitter to state they “put everything on the water. Regrets? None.”
jason & Laura Kenny - gold, silver / gold, silverAs the joint holder of the most Olympic golds (6) and overall medals (8) before Tokyo, many of you will know Greater Manchester’s Jason Kenny. You’ll certainly have heard of his wife Laura too, who’s successes totaled 4 golds before the Games. Both train with British Cycling at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. Having such an elite venue to train at certainly paid dividends in Tokyo, with the Kenny’s each becoming the most successful Male and Female Olympians Great Britain have ever produced!
Laura Kenny landed in Tokyo wanting to become the first female Briton to win Gold at three different Olympic Games. Following a loss to Germany in the Women’s Team Pursuit final, Laura, along with teammate Katie Archibald earned what she’d worked so hard for, winning a remarkable and unprecedented gold in what appeared somewhat of an easy victory to spectators. After 120 laps, they had won 10/12 sprints to finish with 78 points, over double that of second-placed Denmark on 35. A remarkable feat!
Eyes then looked to husband Jason follow suit. Mr Kenny, who had already picked up another silver medal in the Men’s Team Sprint earlier at the Games, became the first Briton to win seven Olympic gold medals with a sensational defence of his men's keirin title from Rio 2016. In the race, Jason caught the trail of riders behind him by surprise, accelerating away and maintaining the pace to cross the finish line unchallenged. A feat rarely seen, especially in an Olympic final! His total of seven gold medals is now one more than the great Sir Chris Hoy. Speaking after the race, Kenny noted “When you look back it seems pretty easy...then when you try and get more, you remember how hard it is”.
For the Kenny’s, Tokyo added yet more extraordinary achievements for what has become a truly extraordinary Olympic family.
Overall, Tokyo 2020 was another tremendous success for Team GB, equaling the medal tally from London 2012 for a second consecutive time, the only country to have ever done so following a home Olympics. Manchester yet again proved to be a significant contributor of this, thanks in part to our state-of-the-art facilities, world class coaches and most significantly, our phenomenal athletes. Although we were not able to name every athlete who competed for us at the games, we recognise their immense dedication and commitment, nonetheless.
tokyo only the beginning
After being glued and transfixed to the TV over the past few weeks, being able to watch athletes from across Manchester and its surrounding boroughs compete at the elite level has been nothing but inspiring! This year’s Games therefore proved Manchester’s successes over the past few Olympics will not be slowing down any time soon and will continue to move from strength to strength. As we look back on a fantastic Olympic Games, one outcome from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ shines through brighter than any other, Tokyo was only the beginning for our ‘City of Sport’.
Are you interested in trying a new sport? Why not make use of Manchester’s fantastic array of facilities. Take a look at our Activity Finder to discover what’s available on your doorstep.
TEAM GB'S NEXT OLYMPIAN COULD BE YOU!
(Images courtesy of British Cycling, British Athletics, British Swimming, British Sailing, British Triathlon Federation)