Yorkshire’s Sporting Highlights 2015

by Tom Ashurst

LeedsRhinos

2015 will undoubtedly go down as the most memorable year in the history of Leeds Rhinos as they won an historic treble.

It was a particularly fitting finish for three players who have become synonymous with the Rhinos: Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Kevin Sinfield who between them rack up over 35 years of service and over 1,000 games for the amber and blue side. Kevin Sinfield went on to become the first Rugby League player to be shortlisted for the BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year in December. He amassed nearly 30% of the final vote but was narrowly pipped to the post by Andy Murray.

In a season of highlights, one of the greatest moments must surely be Ryan Hall’s last-minute try (pictured above) for the Rhinos in the League Leaders’ Shield which changed the score and sealed a dramatic win at Huddersfield Giants in late September.

 

TDY

In 2014, Yorkshire hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France for the first time in what turned out to be an iconic, stand out moment for the White Rose county. Tour de France organisers, ASO, called it the “Grandest of Grand Départs”, such was it’s impact.

Off the back of this resounding success, a new race was formed and in May 2015 the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire took place for three days. Taking place on some of the roads used in 2014, but also visiting other stunning parts of the county like the North York Moors National Park and the Yorkshire Coast – the race saw spectators once again turn out in huge numbers to cheer on icons of the sport such as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Thomas Voeckler and Marcel Kittel.

There was an exciting Women’s circuit race on the second day in York, over 6,000 people took part in a mass-participation sportive on the third day and the men’s race was ultimately won by Team Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug in Leeds. This was a great first race for Yorkshire and 2016’s route promises to keep the county’s passion for two wheels going.

 

LizzieArmitstead

With Yorkshire rapidly becoming Europe’s cycling capital, it is perhaps fitting that the 2015 women’s World Road Race Champion, Lizzie Armitstead, hails from the White Rose county.

The year got off to the perfect start for Otley’s finest, with victory in the Ladies Tour of Qatar in February. Between March and August, Lizzie took part in the UCI Women’s Road World Cup, winning races in Italy, USA and France which helped her to retain the overall title for the second year in a row. In the middle of all that, she also took the British National Road Race Championships title in June with a victory in Lincolnshire – a particularly remarkable achievement bearing in mind she had suffered a nasty crash only 10 days previous to the race.

The racing highlight of 2015 came surely in Richmond, Virginia though. Here, in September, Lizzie delivered a cycling masterclass and won the UCI Road World Championships for the first time in her career. To cap off a brilliant year, Lizzie was shortlisted for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in December.

With the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race beginning in Lizzie’s home town of Otley in next year, who would rule out a home victory for her in 2016.

 

YorkshireCCC

In 2015 Yorkshire County Cricket Club retained the County Championship title for the first time since 1968.

Led expertly by captain Andy Gale and with contributions from throughout the team, Yorkshire won the league by 68 points – a huge margin. Jonny Bairstow looked unstoppable with the bat, averaging nearly 100 in his 15 innings, all-rounder Tim Bresnan averaged nearly 50 with the bat in 22 innings and took 45 wickets with the ball and the evergreen Ryan Sidebottom took 41 wickets at an incredible average of 17.90.

Yorkshire’s achievements seem particularly impressive considering many of their stars (including the ICC’s number one ranked batsman, Joe Root) have been called upon for England throughout large periods of the season.

Having lost only 3 of 61 games since 2012 under head coach Jason Gillespie, and with what seems like a constant conveyor belt of talent coming through the ranks at Headingley, things are beginning to look ominous for all of Yorkshire’s rivals as a period of dominance seems more than achieveable.

 

JessEnnis

2015 saw Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill produce a hero’s display to be crowned World Heptathlon Champion once again and complete a remarkable sporting return.

Jessica had only returned to the sport in Autumn 2014 following the birth of her first child in July, and so for her to deliver a performance of such steel and quality with just over a year’s full training was a remarkable achievement. This was Jessica’s second World Championship victory having won the crown in 2009. In December, Jessica came third in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. Her fourth time nominated and fourth time in the top three.

With the Olympics returning next year, this performance will no doubt give Jessica immense satisfaction and confidence as she heads to Rio to defend her crown in 2016.

 

BaileyMatthews

Finally, last but by no means least, a remarkable achievement from a young man from Doncaster that will melt even the steeliest of hearts.

In July, 8 year old Bailey Matthews, who has cerebral palsy, was cheered over the line by hundreds of emotional spectators after completing a 100m lake swim, 4,000m bike and 1,300m run as part of the Castle Howard Triathlon. Watch the video here as Bailey crosses the line – he even completed the last 20 metres solo of his walker. A true superstar.

Bailey’s achievements were recognised at The Pride of Britain Awards and he also won the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. Well done Bailey!

Thanks to SWpix.com for many of the pictures above.

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