21 Yorkshire sports stars to watch in 2021

A new year dawns with optimism high that we will get a full sporting calendar. To help guide you through a busy year, we have selected 21 Yorkshire sportsmen and women across 21 sports to follow in 2021. Nick Westby reports.

One to watch - Doncaster's Bradly Sinden (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
One to watch - Doncaster's Bradly Sinden (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

Here we go then, 21 Yorkshire sporting stars to follow across 21 sports in 2021.

Athletics – Max Burgin: Already one of the brightest middle-distance prospects in England, let alone Yorkshire, the 18-year-old 800m specialist from Halifax has been lowering age-group records over the past few years. In August, he set the British Under-20s 800m record, stopping the clock at 1.44:75. An outside bet to make the British team for the delayed Olympics.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Boxing – Jack Bateson: Okay, Yorkshire is already the proud owner of two world champions in Josh Warrington and Terri Harper, and all being well, Luke Campbell will earn another shot at a world title in Dallas tonight. But who is next? How about Jack Bateson, the undefeated super-bantamweight from Leeds.

On the ball: Manchester United's Leah Galton.

He told The Yorkshire Post in an interview last month he wants title fights in 2021 and as part the MTK Global stable of fighters, of which Tyson Fury is the highest-profile member, it would not be the biggest surprise if said title shot came on the undercard of that blockbuster Fury v Anthony Joshua world heavyweight unification bout in the summer.

Climbing – Shauna Coxsey: What? Who? Bear with me. Sport climbing makes its debut at the delayed Tokyo Olympics this summer and Sheffield-based Coxsey is Great Britain’s representative in the women’s event. Climbing is one of the modern, trendy sports the Olympic movement is tapping into, and Coxsey could quickly become the face of it here at home.

Cycling – Tom Pidcock: Given the 2020 he had, I’m rather ashamed to say we went with someone else to follow in the cycling world last year. More fool us, for titles and honours across the whole cycling spectrum flooded in for the Leeds cyclist, who will continue his road education with Team Ineos in 2021 and his domination of cyclo-cross events on the continent until the Spring. He is still young, and admits he is still learning, but watch out for this rising star picking off something big in 2021.

Cricket – Sam Wisniewski: Yorkshire have high hopes for the 19-year-old left-arm leg-spinner. Wisniewski made his T20 debut for Yorkshire last summer and should get further opportunities in 2021. He is vying with Jack Shutt and Josh Poysden as back-up to first-choice spinner Dom Bess and, if available, Adil Rashid.

Pedal power: Tom Pidcock.

Diving – Kat Torrance: Going into Rio five years ago, Jack Laugher was a name to watch and look how he blossomed. Picking him here would be a cop out. So watch out for his City of Leeds team-mate Kat Torrance, the 3m springboard specialist who has been steadily rising through the ranks the last few years, earning fourth and fifth-place finishes at major championships. Is this the year she makes a medal breakthrough?

Football – Leah Galton: Over the last decade or so there has been a consistent stream of teenage girls going over to the United States on soccer scholarships; Leah Galton, 26, of Harrogate, is one of that production line’s brightest prospects. The former Knaresborough Celtic, Harrogate Railway and Leeds United player growing up, has come of age since returning from America in 2017, and after a spell with Bayern Munich, has helped fire Manchester United to the top of the Women’s Superleague. A first England cap ahead of a home European Championships next summer is surely around the corner.

Golf – Jodi Ewart Shadoff: This American-based player who grew up in Northallerton and learnt the game at Catterick Golf Club has been poised for a breakthrough for about a decade, but she is going to take it this year I promise you. A serial contender without ever having won a tournament, she got closer than ever to crossing the finish line in the truncated 2020 season and with a Solheim Cup to come in September, she will be looking for her fourth appearance in five matches.

Gymnastics – Nile Wilson: Only injury, it would seem, can stop this man, and sadly it has done a good job of that since he won three golds and two silver medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. But this is Olympic year and the 24-year-old from Leeds will have his surprise bronze medal in Rio now five years ago to inspire him to do whatever it takes to put himself in medal contention once again.

Driving on: Jodi Ewart Shadoff. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Ice hockey – Alex Graham: Having cut his junior teeth at Bradford Bulldogs, the 17-year-old Sheffield-born forward’s return to his home city has proved to be a fruitful one, enjoying a breakout 2019-20 season in NIHL National with Sheffield Steeldogs. A star performer for GB Under-20s at the World Junior Championships last January, bigger and better things are expected of Graham in 2021.

Motor-sport – Oliver Rowland: Has been kocking on the door of Formula 1 for a few years but seems content to have carved out a niche for himself in Formula E, the rising, energy-efficient alternative to the big-name competition. After claiming his maiden Formula E victory in Berlin earlier this year the Penistone driver will be going all out to claim the overall title for his Nissan e.dams team.

Netball – Brie Grierson: At just 23 she has vast experience of playing in the Netball Superleague and was delighted to be able to continue that with the Leeds Rhinos, who join the competition in February. One of three big local signings the club have made, Grierson is a dynamic wing and goal attack.

Paralympics – Hannah Cockroft: Many of the people on this list are emerging forces, but such is the dominance of Halifax’s Hurricane Hannah, it is hard to see past her dominating wheelchair sprinting pursuits at the Paralympics once again. After a down year mid-Paralympic cycle, she is back to her best in all three wheelchair sprinting disciplines.

Climbing high: Shauna Coxsey.

Racing – Kevin Stott: Enjoyed a breakthrough moment in 2020 with a big race double on Royal Ascot’s final day. Expect the Thirsk-based jockey to kick on in 2021 as more trainers utilise his riding.

Rugby league – Harry Newman: His 2020 was cruelly cut short by a horrific double leg break but expect the gifted young Leeds Rhinos centre to come back stronger than ever. Such a talent, do not be surprised if he times his return to form and fitness just in time to stake a claim for an England debut at the 2021 World Cup.

Rugby union – Dan Lancaster: Following Yorkshire Carnegie’s relegation and demise, the teenage centre/fly-half turned down opportunities to join the academies of Premiership clubs to stay loyal to newly-reformed Leeds Tykes as they start out in National One.

Snooker – David Grace: The Leeds potter had his best year since his run to the UK Championship semi-finals in 2015. Reached that stage of the Northern Irish Open as recently as November. Can he kick on?

Swimming – Max Litchfield: This time last year I tipped this Sheffield-born medley specialist to build on his European title at the Tokyo Olympics and even after coronavirus hit, I see no reason to change that. The 25-year-old produced a consistent body of work in the autumn’s International Swimming League and is accustomed now to racing against the very best.

Taekwondo – Bradly Sinden: Another tipped for greatness a year ago only to have plans put on hold. The Doncaster athlete won gold at the world championships in 2019 and added the European title to his growing reputation only last month.

One to watch - Leeds Rhinos' Harry Newman ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Tennis – Paul Jubb: The Hull prospect landed on the radar in the Spring of 2019 when he won the US College title and earned a Wimbledon wild card, but coronavirus and a niggling injury shut him down in 2020. Now based at the National Tennis Centre in London, he will look to make inroads this year.

Triathlon – Jess Learmonth: We know about the Brownlees, seasoned champions at the sharp end of their sport, but what about Jess Learmonth of Wetherby, at 32 already selected for her Olympic debut? She has already proven that she can beat anyone on her day.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.

Triathlete Jess Learmonth. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)