Tokyo Olympics: Matty Lee and Tom Pidcock, Yorkshire’s fearless new Olympic champions

An insight into the winning mentality of Tom Pidcock was earned at the UCI Road World Championships in his home county of Yorkshire in September, 2019.

Then, as now, he went into that season-defining race off a bad injury, wondering if he would have the strength and the legs to compete with the world’s best.

In Tokyo yesterday, on the mountain bike course of Izu, the 21-year-old left us in no doubt that he was fully recovered from the broken collarbone he suffered at the Tour de Suisse six weeks earlier, by winning a thrilling gold medal in the mountain bike cross-country.

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But two years ago at the world championships, he came up short five weeks after being hospitalised following a crash in France, and finished fourth.

Thomas Pidcock of Great Britain wins the men's cross-country race and is crowned Olympic Champion (Picture: Alex Broadway/SWpix.com)

There was a twist in the tale, though, when the apparent winner Nils Eekhoff was disqualified for drafting the team car when recovering from an earlier crash.

Pidcock was suddenly promoted to third place; going from the worst place to finish to a world championship bronze medallist, something most athletes would snap your hand off. But not Pidcock.

“It doesn’t change now I’ve got a medal. It’s only first place that matters in a championship,” he said in his post-race press conference, a level-headed response that betrayed his mentality coming after he had experienced a whirlwind of emotions.

Pidcock is a born winner, something he has proven on the cyclo-cross scene, the mountain biking trails and on the roads these past few years.

Great Britain's Tom Pidcock in action before winning gold medal in the men's cross country mountain biking at the Izu MTB Course on the third day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. (Picture: Jasper Jacobs/PA Wire)

Now he has done it on the grandest stage of all, at an Olympic Games.

This burgeoning talent, who grew up in Otley riding with his brother Joe and under the guidance of father Giles, who contested the road race at the World Student Games and each year organises the Otley Grand Prix, has now arrived. The manner in which he atacked and rode away from pre-race favourites and other cycling wunderkinds like Mathieu van der Poel, merely underlined his fearless, ruthless mentality.

“I’m always better when I take control myself,” said Pidcock. “I take my own lines, my own speed. Once we started I was fine, all the nerves kind of went and I concentrated on the race.”

Olympic gold will not be the peak of this young Yorkshireman’s career. A more single-minded individual you could not wish to meet.

Olympic champions Matty Lee and Tom Daley (Picture: Getty Images)

Yorkshire’s other new Olympic champion who was crowned on Monday, falls into the category of most humble individual you could not wish to meet.

Matty Lee is as amiable and as grounded as they come.

The latest Olympian off the production line at the City of Leeds Diving Club has been learning his craft since the age of seven at Leeds International Pool and then the state-of-the-art facilities at the John Charles Aquatics Centre.

There were setbacks along the way, most notably missing out on qualification for the Rio Olympics, but he turned those experiences as a positive.

Thomas Daley and Matty Lee of Britain react after winning gold at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

When the opportunity came nearly three years ago to move down to London to become the famous Tom Daley’s 10m synchro partner, Lee – very much a family man and still only 20 – took the plunge.

The hard work the two have put in since then came to fruition at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre yesterday when Lee helped Daley finally win the gold medal he had been almost pre-ordained to win.

The two have dove-tailed perfectly, in and out of the pool.

Lee said: “There’s a photo of me and Tom around the year of Beijing and it’s funny because I’m just a kid with a big head.

“All those years back I was a fan, a little kid looking up to him. Now we’re best mates and Olympic gold medallists.”

Tom Pidcock and Matty Lee – fearless young Yorkshiremen with a winning mentality and an Olympic gold medal to prove it.