WHEN compiling a shortlist of suggestions for who might get your vote for The Yorkshire Post’s Sports Hero of 2014, the success enjoyed by this county’s participants at the Commonwealth Games almost consumed the entire list.
Here at the YP, we like to give you 50 names to mull over.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the summer, Yorkshire athletes collected 45 medals, ensuring that when it came to putting that shortlist together, there were bound to be some folk upset that their names were missed off.
Thirteen of those medals were gold, 17 were silver and 15 bronze.
In time-honoured tradition – or at least dating back to London 2012 – the athletes representing the White Rose county either through birthright or association, accounted for 25 per cent of the medals won by England at the Games.
Yorkshire would have finished seventh on the medals table; above Chad Le Clos’s South Africa, David Rudisha’s Kenya and Usain Bolt’s Jamaica.
Those men are three Commonwealth medallists and some of the biggest names in sport. What Yorkshire confirmed at Glasgow 2014, is that we ourselves also have some of the biggest names.
In Alistair Brownlee, Nicola Adams and Lizzie Armitstead in particular, we have three of the very finest at their chosen profession.
As a testament to the standards they attain season after season, they have all been in consideration for this award in each of the first three years of its existence.
What you have to ask yourselves now as you consider who to vote for is have any of these three elevated themselves above the other, or any of the outstanding candidates for that matter.
Alistair Brownlee is a forerunner in the world of triathlon, and in Glasgow in July he completed the set of major international accolades when he added the Commonwealth title to his Olympic, world and European gold medals.
Adams made history at London 2012 when she became the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. She was in history-rewriting mood again in Glasgow. Armitstead has had a stellar year. In Glasgow, she rode through the driving rain to land her first major road race title in a summer in which she proved her form and quality by winning the women’s World Cup series.
For more sustained brilliance, look no further than Nick Matthew, Sheffield’s world squash star, who reinforced his standing in the British Empire by defending the title he won in Delhi four years ago.
As well as the household names, there were plenty of emerging stars to climb onto the top step of the county’s podium.
Diver Jack Laugher of Harrogate – who trains at the never-ending production line of talent that is the City of Leeds club at the John Charles Aquatics Centre in Leeds – won two Commonwealth titles in Scotland and was one indifferent dive away from claiming a hat-trick of titles.
Another Leeds teenager, Nile Wilson, went one better than Laugher by winning four medals in Glasgow; two of them gold, and two of them in the same afternoon as he vaulted into the nation’s sporting conscience with a mesmerising performance in the gymnastics arena.
The feats of Wakefield’s Alicia Blagg in winning a synchro diving title with Rebecca Gallantree, Leeds’ Gabby Adcock in claiming a medal of each colour in badminton, York’s Jess Taylor for claiming a surprise heptathlon bronze and Burley-in-Wharfedale cyclist Scott Thwaites for riding to a road race bronze, are also worthy of consideration.
In the pool, Harrogate’s Sophie Taylor emphasised her growing reputation with a gold in the 50m breaststroke while Middlesbrough’s Aimee Willmott showed her versatility.
Doncaster’s long-standing men’s hockey captain Barry Middleton finally led his team to a major medal when they won bronze, while there were also medals in breakthrough years for Barnsley pole-vaulter Luke Cutts, divers Oliver Dingley, James Denny and Freddie Woodward, plus a gold and a silver for Britain’s leading table tennis player, Paul Drinkhall, of Middlesbrough.
There weres so many to celebrate in the Commonwealth Games alone, that choosing a winner before the deadline of Monday at noon is an onerous one.
On the line for one lucky winner is two hospitality tickets to Headingley next summer, as detailed below. Tomorrow, we will take a closer look at some of the team sports stars for you to consider in the search for Yorkshire’s Sports Hero of 2014.
‘Fridge Kids’ in contention for our award
It was not just in Glasgow where the county’s stars rose to prominence, remeber Sochi?
In February, Britain was introduced to the ‘Fridge Kids’; freestyle skiers and snowboarders who learned their daring moves on the rubber mats of dry ski slopes.
James Woods and Katie Summerhayes learned in their home city of Sheffield, while Bradford’s Jamie Nicholls put in hour upon hour perfecting his routine in nearby Halifax.
All three made the finals of their freestyle event at the Winter Olympics and nearly won a medal against opponents who benefitted from going up in Alpine or North American winter resorts.
Do any of those get your vote? All you need to do is cast your nomination for anyone from the world of Yorkshire sport and hope that your selected sports star wins our poll. If you vote for our eventual winner then your name will be entered into the prize draw.
The Yorkshire Post sports hero will be the one who receives the most nominations from you, our readers. Each nomination counts as a vote.
The criterion is Yorkshire-born sportsmen and women, or people who play for Yorkshire clubs or live and train in the county, who have done wonders this year.
The closing date is Monday, December 15, at noon.