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Leicester's Olympic Glory

Athletes from Leicester at the Tokyo Games.

Great Britain's athletes returned from the Olympic Games in Tokyo with no less than 65 medals.

With several involving team sports, these were shared between 112 actual medallists.

Just two of those were officially listed as coming from Leicester: John Gimson, winner of a silver medal in Sailing (yet could we be any further from the sea here in the East Midlands?) and Izzy Petter, who earned a bronze in Hockey.

Another sailor, gold medallist Dylan Fletcher, comes from Market Harborough – just how do we do it?

However, the impact of Leicestershire was far, far wider, thanks mainly to the wonderful contribution of past and present students at Loughborough University – a true sporting mecca.

There were several Loughborough alumni in the swimming pool, headed up by triple medallist Adam Peaty of course.

Another former student, Keely Hodgkinson, just 19, raced to silver in the 800 metres on the athletics track to capture the headlines; while the afore-mentioned Izzy Petter is a current Loughborough student who helped the GB hockey girls to bronze.

Back in the athletics stadium, former Luff Holly Bradshaw finally cast off the mantle of “nearly girl” with a well-deserved bronze in the pole vault – Britain's first ever medal in that discipline.

There were medals for some of the less well known former students too, such as kayaker Liam Heath, whose bronze was actually the fourth Olympic medal of his career.

Another former student, Daryl Neita, made the women's 100 metres final before later securing a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay; current student Morgan Lake made it to the final of the women's high jump while her teammate Emily Borthwick equalled her personal best in that event, though she just failed to reach the final.

Alumnus Jake Wightman reached the 1500 metres final where he was joined by Loughborough College student Jake Heywood; Emily Diamond was part of the women's 4 x 400 metres final quartet.

And away from Loughborough, Oadby teacher Kevin Seaward was competing for Ireland in the marathon.

Indeed, across the Olympics and the Paralympics, which follows on a fortnight later, Loughborough University is actually sending 100 athletes and staff to take part, some of them competing for overseas nations.

Not everyone returns home with a medal, of course, but everyone returns home with the experience of a lifetime.

Yes, Leicester and Leicestershire are firmly on the sporting map once more when it comes to the biggest gathering on the planet and long may it continue.


Written by Dave Smith

Dave Smith is probably best known locally as co-author of the Leicester City history Of Fossils & Foxes. Recently, in Finally Leicester he took a look at the various finals contested by Leicester's five major sporting clubs, covering football, rugby union, cricket, basketball and speedway.


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