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8:56 PM 11th October 2021
sports

Yorkshire Welcomes Olympic Heroes Home

Yorkshire’s stars of the Olympic and Paralympic Games were given a homecoming to remember at a major arena event on Sunday.

Presenters Tanya Arnold and Nile Wilson - credit SW Pix
Presenters Tanya Arnold and Nile Wilson - credit SW Pix
Having made history by representing their country at the Olympics and Paralympics, the athletes were unable to celebrate in front of a crowd at the Games as no spectators were present.

But their achievements were given the celebration they deserved at the first direct arena in Leeds where fans, family and friends gave them a rousing welcome home.

Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth - credit SW Pix
Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth - credit SW Pix
The event – backed by Channel 4, which has just opened its new National HQ in Leeds – saw 2016 Olympic medallist Nile Wilson and sports broadcaster Tanya Arnold host proceedings which included chats with leading lights from Kadeena Cox MBE, Jess Learmonth and Alex Bell to Jonny Brownlee, Adam Duggleby MBE and Bradly Sinden.

credit SW Pix
credit SW Pix
Headline entertainment included The Skylights, along with performances from Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Prose’s live poetry, Bongo Warriors with Spark! LED drummers capping off the show.

A contribution towards SportsAid will be made from the sale of public tickets. Local grassroots sports clubs and organisations working with more vulnerable children and young people were also invited to attend for free.

All of Yorkshire’s 22 councils joined forces on the event, with Leeds City Council acting as lead organiser supported by Yorkshire and Humber Councils.

Hannah Cockroft MBE - credit SW Pix
Hannah Cockroft MBE - credit SW Pix
Gold medallist Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE, speaking at the event, said: “We were aware there would be no crowds in Tokyo and you can prepare for that. But actually crossing that line…and having absolutely nothing, no feedback, no atmosphere – that was gutting, it was silence. So we are really lucky as Yorkshire athletes. To be able to come here, to have a crowd and have people celebrate and enjoy our moments all over again with us. It makes it all better and makes us feel like we didn’t quite miss out on that moment out in Tokyo.”

Kadeena Cox - credit SW Pix
Kadeena Cox - credit SW Pix
Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We are all immensely proud of how our amazing athletes competed in Tokyo this summer and the hero’s welcome they received on Sunday was very much deserved. The level of support from the public and the amazing spectacle put on was a fitting celebration of the athletes’ success and the sacrifices they made on their journey. It was particularly pleasing that so many young people were able to attend and I hope the event will have inspired the next generation of great Yorkshire athletes.

“I would like to thank all the athletes for finding time in their demanding schedules to attend the event and of course the Yorkshire public who have travelled across the county to give the athletes the homecoming that they deserve.”

Sinead Rocks, Channel 4 Managing Director Nations and Regions, said: "These Olympians and Paralympians got the welcome home their efforts richly deserved and we are delighted to have been part of making that happen. The pride and energy at the event showed how much this meant to Yorkshire. These athletes' collective achievements will hopefully inspire a whole new generation, some of who were at the event and got to see their heroes."