THE inaugural European Games begin in Azerbaijan today with 22 athletes from Yorkshire bidding for brilliance in Baku.
The White Rose county subsequently forms over one eighth of the Great Britain team with Leeds triathlete Gordon Benson beaming at the county’s strength in depth.
British No 5 Benson will have strong claims of glory in the men’s triathlon race minus the sport’s big three in Leeds brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee plus Spain’s Javier Gomez.
Yet team Yorkshire remains buoyant in Baku even without the Brownlees headed by Leeds’s London 2012 boxing champion Nicola Adams.
Leeds gymnast and multiple Commonwealth Games medallist Nile Wilson also features along with another Leeds boxing star in Qais Ashfaq plus a plethora of talented divers and swimmers.
And while Benson admits the competition is no Olympic Games, the 22-year-old is still proud that Yorkshire’s strong legacy created at London 2012 undeniably continues.
Benson told The Yorkshire Post: “Yorkshire obviously did amazing at London 2012 and this is kind of following on from that legacy. It just shows that we’re such a strong county and there could be plenty more than just these numbers going. It’s a great opportunity.
“When I went for the kitting out and stuff Nicola Adams was there. She probably doesn’t know who I am but you look where she’s come from – I don’t even know where she came from – but she came to London 2012 and won the gold. She’s a nationally recognised name now and it’s great to see people like that who just burst on to the scene and now they are massive names.
“Especially being local it means even more to me and it’s great that she’s going.
“For me, this is a great opportunity to go to a multi-sport games. It’s an Olympic style event – it’s obviously not the Olympics and while you do get the chance to represent Team GB it’s a step down from the Olympics but it’s a great stepping stone towards it. I think if you remember that and use it in that way then it’s as close as you are going to get to the real Olympics, other than the Commonwealth Games. It’s a European Olympics almost and a real good opportunity.”