Yorkshire’s rising sporting stars to watch out for through 2020

Great Britain's Bradly Sinden. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Great Britain's Bradly Sinden. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
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Twenty for 2020. Sounds a bit obvious doesn’t it – and a few too many to keep tabs on.

But trust me, once you comb through the wide spectrum of sports trying to select a few names to follow over the coming 12 months, you quickly come up with a list of about 50.

So this roll-call of the Yorkshire sportsmen and women to follow at home and abroad this year, either representing this great county or the teams that fly our flag, is by no means definitive.

Nor is it full of the bigger names. Regular readers of The Yorkshire Post will already be familiar with Alistair Brownlee, Ed Clancy, Lizzie Deignan and Hannah Cockroft. Those names will not appear here. They have already scaled the mountain.

What The Yorkshire Post’s team of sports writers have assembled here is an ensemble of people on the journey up to the mountain top, breakout candidates for you to keep a keen eye on over the coming months.

And with it being an Olympic year, let us start there.

Jessica Mayho. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.

Jessica Mayho. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.

Pre-London and Rio, eight and four years ago, Yorkshire was rich with gold-medal potential.

But the aforementioned big four aside, where else might a medal come from in Tokyo 2020.

Where better to start than the taekwondo mat I hear you cry.

Bradly Sinden is the first name on our list. The 21-year-old from Doncaster is a taekwondo world champion, having won gold at the 2019 World Championships in Manchester in the 68kg category.

What The Yorkshire Post’s team of sports writers have assembled here is an ensemble of people on the journey up to the mountain top, breakout candidates for you to keep a keen eye on over the coming months.

Nick Westby

Providing he can avoid a slip-up in the early rounds, Sinden is a strong bet to add to Yorkshire’s Olympic haul.

The aquatics venue might be where the White Rose county comes up with the goods.

Tom Daley is due an Olympic gold after two bronze medals and enough ups and downs in his triple-Olympic career to satisfy any athlete’s cv. He will be favoured to medal again in the 10m synchro. His partner? Matty Lee of Leeds who relocated to London to train with diving’s poster boy 12 months ago. Together, Daley and Lee won bronze at last year’s world championships.

Another who might get in the slipstream of a bigger name is James Wilby. While all eyes in the breaststroke fall on Adam Peaty, the man touching the wall second in Gwangzju at the worlds last year was the 26-year-old City of York product.

Naiktha Bains in action on day three of the Wimbledon Championships. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Naiktha Bains in action on day three of the Wimbledon Championships. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Forging a stellar career of his own is City of Sheffield’s Max Litchfield. The medley specialist has a host of fourth-place finishes at the major championships and finally stepped on to the top step of the podium at last month’s European Short-course Championships in Glasgow. He is due a big medal.

In the blue riband track and field events, Yorkshire has yet to discover its next Jessica Ennis. But in Jess Mayho, a 26-year-old hammer thrower from Leeds, there is a tenacious individual to monitor.

Unfunded and needing to work to support her training and competition schedule, Mayho made huge strides in 2019, winning the British title and representing her country. Expect more progress this year.

In cycling, while Clancy goes for a fourth successive team pursuit title in Tokyo, one man supporting him could be Wakefield’s Ollie Wood, a regular in the elite British cycling squad who may also go for gold in the multi-displine omnium.

On the road, keep Abby-Mae Parkinson on your radar. The Dewsbury-born daughter of former national champion Lisa Brambani has been putting together a strong palmeres and 2020 could well be the year when she takes the next step.

After the Olympics comes the Paralympics when a medal for Yorkshire may well be delivered by Wakefield’s Sophie Carrigill, a prominent part of the women’s GB wheelchair basketball team based in Sheffield who were fourth in Rio but have since been to finals of the world and European championships.

Liam Kirk of the Peterborough Petes.

Liam Kirk of the Peterborough Petes.

In other sports away from the Tokyo spotlight, Naiktha Bains was a name largely unfamiliar to everyone in Britain until just before Wimbledon last year, when the Leeds-born tennis player swapped her Australian citizenship for British.

A strong showing at Ilkley underlined her potential, and earned her a Wimbledon wild card. What does 2020 hold?

Over in the boxing ring, while Josh Warrington looks to create a legacy and Luke Campbell eyes another world title shot, Leeds’s Qais Ashfaq quietly goes about constructing an unbeaten record in the super bantamweight division. Eight fights undefeated and in the Matchroom stable known for fast-tracking fighters.

In the world of racing, keep an eye on Oakley Brown. Many Irish jockeys come to Britain to pursue their dreams.

The Malton-born teenager has headed the other way. A former Flat jockey who learned his trade with Richard Fahey, Brown is now a conditional jumps rider attached to the yard of ambitious trainer Joseph O’Brien.

He has already had seven winners and recorded two successes at Limerick’s fiercely competitive Christmas meeting.

On to team sports, Beth England is a Barnsley-born product of Doncaster Rovers Belles.

She has forced her way into the Lionesses set-up as Phil Neville turned to new blood after last summer’s World Cup.

A maiden goal from the bench in October’s friendly against Brazil at Middlesbrough marked the Chelsea midfielder/forward as an important part of England’s future.

Lewis O’Brien endured a dismal last 18 months, but is now one of those young players Huddersfield Town manager Danny Cowley is looking to rebuild around.

A midfielder by trade, the former Bradford City loanee has impressed when filling in at left-back recently.

Yorkshire have been producing international-class cricketers for decades. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are already there. Ben Coad is knocking on the door. But a bit further down the pecking order, who else can we look out for? Step forward Tom Loten, a tall and powerful batsman who scored 58 on his first-class debut in the final match of the season against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

York-born Loten, who turns 21 on January 8, is highly-rated by the Yorkshire coaching staff.

A little further up the age ladder, the exploits of Josh Poysden will be interesting to monitor. The 28-year-old leg-spinner has had a stop-start time of it since signing for Yorkshire in 2018.

His 2019 campaign was ended by a fractured skull when he was struck by a ball in net practice. However, he is an important player, especially in one-day cricket.

Into rugby league, and there are three names for you to consider when the new season dawns at the end of the month.

Danny Richardson was a member of the 2018 Super League Dream Team, the young half-back fell out of favour at St Helens in 2019 and was sold at the end of the season to Castleford Tigers. There is no doubting the England Knights pivot’s talent and he has a point to prove.

At Leeds Rhinos, Halifax-born front-rower Thomas Holroyd made his debut in 2018, aged 17, but was hampered by a series of injuries last season. He is highly thought of at Headingley and, following some high-profile departures, could get an extended opportunity this year.

With a nickname of the ‘Tongan Terminator’ you know what is coming when opponents face Hull FC recruit Manu Ma’u.

The destructive back-row should be a big hit in Super League following his arrival from Parramatta Eels. Opponents will soon get to know him

In the rapidly-growing women’s side of rugby union, Scarborough-born Zoe Aldcroft is a name to follow. The 23-year-old lock is part of the professional set-up the women’s England team now enjoys, earned her sixth cap against France in November and could be on home soil when England Women host Ireland Women at Doncaster’s Castle Park.

Liam Kirk, the first English-trained ice hockey player to be selected in the NHL draft, continues to make an impression for the Arizona Coyotes’ OHL affiliate, Peterborough Petes.

He is potentially in his last year of junior hockey in North America as he looks to earn a contract with the Coyotes.

So there you have it. Twenty for 2020. Follow them closely...