Greater Manchester athletes won an astonishing sixteen Olympic medals for Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
This year’s delayed Olympic Games concluded last night, with Team GB bringing home an admirable sixty-five medals, ultimately placing them in fourth place just behind Japan, China and the US.
And, incredibly, athletes from Greater Manchester played a huge role in our country’s success at the massive sporting event – so much so that, if Greater Manchester had competed as a team in the Olympics, we would have ranked eleventh in the medal table ahead of countries such as Brazil, Canada and Jamaica. Yep, we’re that good.
Let’s meet our champions…
Swimmer James Guy, from Bury, won three medals for Team GB: Gold in the mens 4x200m swimming relay, gold in the mixed medley swimming relay and silver in the 4x100m medley swimming relay.
On his incredible achievement, Guy wrote on social media: “Olympic Champion! Something I thought I would never say.
“All the hard years of work and starting from the bottom as a junior to not having the Olympics I wanted in 2016. But we never gave up. We did it! Dreams do come true. We reset and we go again!”
Manc born BMX rider Charlotte Worthington did the city proud when she recovered from a fall and ultimately won gold in the women’s BMX park freestyle.
On her motivation to win gold, Worthington said: “I think it’s been gold medal or nothing this whole journey. I think as soon as we set the goal of gold medal, it was go big or go home.
“I’ve learned that if you gamble and you give yourself that chance, it’s going to pay off better and going to feel better than if you hold off and think what could have been.”
Georgia Taylor-Brown, from Manchester, won gold in the mixed triathlon relay and even overcame a tyre puncture to win silver in the women’s triathlon.
Speaking of the high and lows of winning her medals, the twenty-seven-year-old cyclist told Sky News: “As a kid I always wanted one of these medals. I just wanted to be an Olympian.
“But then you think ‘that’s a dream I had as a ten-year-old. I’m twenty-seven, is it ever going to become a reality?’ And yeah this morning it did.”
Stuart Bithell, from Rochdale, won gold in the men’s sailing 49’er class. Speaking of his achievement, he told the Dorset Echo: “I think the exact moment [we knew we were going to win] was the very last gybe at the end.
“They gybe and we gybed almost simultaneously, and I could just see the bow coming up and we were on a little bit of a wave and just got a little bit of surge and I thought, that’s the one.
“This is my last Olympics, almost certainly. As you can image it’s so nice to go away with the gold.”
Matt Walls, from Oldham, won gold in the men’s omnium cycling and silver in the men’s madison cycling.
On his accomplishment, twenty-three-year-old Walls said: “There was a bit of an unknown because the last track race I did was the Euros last year. But I’ve been going well on the road, getting in some quality racing this year, so I knew I was good coming in.
“I just didn’t know how it would translate on the track, how the tactics would be, because it had been so long. But I came into the scratch race feeling good, came away with that win and then I knew I’d got a chance as long as I played it smart. I knew I’d got the legs so it could work out and it did.”
Harlow-born Laura Kenny snatched gold in the women’s madison cycling and silver in the women’s team pursuit cycling.
Posting onto social media following her win with teammate Katie Archibald, Kenny wrote: “I’m not even sure what to say. We worked so hard back in Manchester, gelling as a pairing. I have never felt so ready for a race.
“I felt so unbelievably nervous at the start and all I kept saying to myself was your with @_katiearchibald just listen to her, you trust what she says!
“Turns out we didn’t need to say very much at all. We knew where each other wanted to be and we stuck to our plan. I am so so proud of us and everyone behind the scenes helping us achieve this gold medal.”
Jason Kenny, from Bolton, won gold in the men’s keirin cycling and silver in the men’s team sprint cycling – overall, he scooped seven medals.
Kenny said, as per the BBC: “Seven gold medals is really special. When you look back on the ones you have already got, it seems pretty easy. Then when you try and get more, you remember how hard it is.”
On his future, he added: “Before today I had all but given up, I was counting my career in days and races as opposed to years, but maybe I have bought myself more time now.”
Wigan’s very own Keely Hodgkinson, nineteen, brought home silver in the women’s 800m.
The young athlete was sponsored by Liverpool-born millionaire Barrie Wells, who hailed her accomplishment as ‘incredible.’ He told ITV News: “I never expected her to win it, but I thought she could get second or third because she’s just fearless and she’s got great finishing speed.
“She finishes faster than anyone in the world. Incredible achievement.”
Stockport’s Joshua Bugajski won bronze in the men’s eight rowing.
Bugajski, who has an unusual background in rowing having grown up in a deprived part of Stockport, gained viral fame for his scathing comments on his coach, Jurgen Grobler’s methods.
“I’m going to be brave and say something the crew don’t want me to say. I popped a bottle of champagne when Jurgen retired. I had three very dark years under him, I’d be coward not to say on behalf of the guys who are back home and didn’t make it onto the team and that got the darker side of Jurgen.
“It’s the end of an era for British rowing but it’s the start of a much better era. We’ve had six boats come fourth, on the cusp of a medal, and we’ve had two medals. Come Paris we’ve got a lot of potential but we need to be honest about where it went wrong.”
16-year-old darts sensation confident he can win World Darts Championship
He will play in the semi-final against Rob Cross later
A teenage darts player has said it will ‘take a lot to stop’ him as he sets his sights on winning the World Darts Championship.
Luke Littler has been playing darts since he was just a toddler as he started out using a magnetic board.
The 16-year-old has been wowing audiences as they’ve watched him rise up the ranks with an incredible run in the World Darts Championship.
And with each passing set, Littler believes he has what it takes to win the tournament to become champion.
He’s now just two victories away from winning after his debut at the huge event.
After sweeping past Brendan Dolan to set up a semi-final against Rob Cross on Tuesday 2nd, he will play for a place in the final, held at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night.
“It’s going to take a lot to stop me,” he told the BBC. “It feels unbelievable. I never thought I would have got to the semis on my debut year.
“It’s crazy watching myself at 18 months or two years old in a nappy, but it has all paid off.
“One day we went to a shop with my parents and I pointed to a magnetic dartboard because they look similar. The rest is history.”
Littler has got the darts world talking as he became the youngest player to win a match in the tournament as crowds taunted him with, ‘you’ve got school in the morning,’ during his first-round win against Christian Kist on December 20th.
Less than two weeks later he has banked £100,000 in prize money and is being asked for selfies with fans everywhere he goes, while getting to watch Premier League football matches sat in executive boxes.
“I’ve been to an Arsenal game, I went to a Tottenham game – people come up to me. I don’t know who these people are but they know me,” he said.
“It is a good feeling and I will always take a picture with anyone. I was in (Tottenham midfielder) James Maddison’s box.
“It was good to meet him, get a few pictures and meet his family. It was really nice.”
Standing between Littler and a place in the final is Cross, who is number eight in the world.
Cross made history himself after becoming the first player to fight back from 4-0 to beat Chris Dobey 5-4 in his quarter-final.
Cross won the World Championship on his debut back in 2018 and thinks Littler has a similar kind of momentum behind him as he did.
Cross said: “Everyone loves an underdog story. It took a bit of pressure off me winning it first time as well.
“He’s fantastic and he deserves all the luck in the world – he is a nice young boy. Tomorrow we play darts, though, and I have to go down to business.”
The other semi-final taking place is an all-England match also, which will see Scott Williams face third seed Luke Humphries.
Williams shocked Dutchman and three-time winner Michael van Gerwen 5-3 as he made it to the last four for the first time in just his second appearance at the World Championships.
Humphries, who won three major titles in 2023 and is the highest-ranked player left in the competition, is also in the last four who will play for a place in the finals at Alexandra Palace after he beat Dave Chisnall 5-1. It will be his first final.
Man United’s Mary Earps named Women’s Footballer of the Year 2023
England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps has been named the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year.
Earps, 30, made history as the first goalkeeper to receive the award.
Speaking to BBC Sport, she said: “I am truly honoured. To be the first keeper to get their hands on the award is truly special and I am incredibly grateful.”
Fans voted on the BBC Sport website after five players were shortlisted for the award. A panel of experts made up of journalists, administrators, players and coaches from around the world chose Earps as one of those shortlisted.
Rumours were already circulating online that the Lioness goalie stood a good chance of winning the award after a stellar year playing for club and country.
She kept 14 clean sheets for Man United during the season 2022-23 – a WSL record – which earned the club their highest finish in the league, in second place.
Earps won the Golden Glove as England made it to the World Cup Final in August this year, though the Lionesses lost 1-0 to Spain despite Earps saving a second-half penalty. She also came fifth place in the Ballon d’Or.
In second place for the Footballer of the Year Award came Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati, followed by Chelsea forward Sam Kerr, in third place.
Earps has also been making an impact off the pitch as well as on. This year she called out England’s kit manufacturer Nike for not producing replicas of her shirt for fans and aspiring female footballers to be able to buy.
In her speech, Earps continued: “To be honest, I thought Bonmati might take it. I mean, what a player.
“There has been a lot that has happened this year. Obviously, we’ve had the World Cup. We’ve had everything that’s gone on with the goalkeeper shirts.
“I’ve had the whole goalkeeper union behind me, it seemed like. Not even just that, just incredible support from the public and many people.
“Last year was an incredible season for United. I think it’s been an incredible year, an incredible couple of years. I’m just trying to make the most of everything really.”
Two months after the World Cup had concluded, Nike produced the replica shirts and put them on sale. Within hours they sold out prompting Earps to thank her fans for all their support over social media.
England boss Sarina Wiegman congratulated Earps winning the award in a video, saying: “Hi Mary, here I go again. I can congratulate you again with the award for women’s world footballer of the year.
“Congratulations, but you’re not done yet. You have to keep going – get some more. Enjoy this award.”
After a two-year absence from the sport between November 2019 and September 2021, Earps considered retiring from football. But instead she has gone on to prove herself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
She added: “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, the sort of things I went through, but I try to use my story as a beacon of hope for people – to show that there are better days coming.
“You just have to keep going and keep fighting. That looks very different to different people – everyone has their own battles and their own stories.
“I think what is incredible is how many people have reached out to me and shared their own stories through that. It’s been really great. Long may it continue.”
Manchester City announce new six-part documentary following historic treble win
You can follow the Blues through their journey to winning the treble
Treble winners Manchester City have announced a new six-part documentary chronicling their three-cup victories.
City fans will be able to relive their team through their epic season of 2022/23 which saw them take home the treble, marking a historic achievement for the club.
Following the last documentary for Amazon Prime All or Nothing, the Blue’s new documentary will be called Together: Treble Winners, and will document behind the scenes footage of how events unfolded leading to City successfully achieving ‘football immortality by winning the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup’.
The Manchester City website reads: “It [The treble] was a truly historic achievement and to celebrate, our acclaimed fly-on-the-wall documentary Together is returning to provide an exclusive look behind the scenes of our Treble-winning campaign.
“The six-part docuseries, currently in production, will offer fans the complete inside story of City’s greatest-ever season, with unseen footage charting the immersive journey our players and staff experienced en route to securing football’s Holy Grail.
“This is the story of a season like no other, as City once again stunned the world with the brilliance of our football.”
This statement might not go down so well with United fans who won the treble back in 1998/99 and may argue that theirs was ‘a season like no other’.
Either way, football fans who appreciate the game generally can simply watch the docuseries and get to find out what Pep said to players in team talks and all the dressing room antics that went on between teammates and backroom staff.
As for its release date and further details we will have to be patient just a little longer as Man City have only announced the new in-house production by City Studios will be ‘coming soon’, and that it is currently still in the production process.
What will the club have in-store for next season, which starts tomorrow, Friday August 11th?
Perhaps the ambitious bunch will take home all four trophies and win a quadruple? It’s a crazy thought but perhaps the Blues might be the ones to do it.
Let’s see how this season plays out…