Six of the best: Take note of these Yorkshire stars set to shine at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

AFTER another successful Olympic Games for Yorkshire athletes, Ed White picks out six names to follow as the race to Tokyo 2020 begins.
Graphic: Graeme BandeiraGraphic: Graeme Bandeira
Graphic: Graeme Bandeira

Memories of the summer Olympics in Rio may still be fresh, but for many of the county’s up-and-coming athletes, the journey to, and planning for, the 2020 Games in Tokyo has already begun.

Here, we look at six athletes to follow:

Lois Toulson

At 16 years old, Toulson was the youngest member of Team GB’s record-breaking squad of divers in Rio.

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But despite her tender age, the City of Leeds diver performed with maturity beyond her years and came fifth in the 10m synchronised event alongside national champion Tonia Couch.

Toulson rose to prominence by winning gold at the inaugural European Games in 2015 with a personal best score of 456.70 points.

The partnership of Toulson and Couch won three medals on the Diving World Series this summer and has frequently totalled more than 300 points from the judges.

Any improvement on that over the next four years would put Toulson, who was born in Huddersfield, in medal contention in Japan.

Jess Leyden

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Todmorden’s pocket rocket was unfortunate to miss out on a place in Rio as Team GB’s women’s quad failed to qualify for a place on the start line.

However, she put the disappointment to one side and teamed up with Mathilda Hodkins-Byrne to win the double scull at the 2016 Under-23 World Championships.

This glory was Leyden’s second on the international stage having been crowned World Junior Champion in the single scull in 2013, where she became the first British woman to win alone in a world event.

A switch back to the 22-year-old’s preferred single sculls could follow in the next Olympiad and with Team GB’s reputation for medal success in rowing, she has every chance of making another slice of history.

Kyle Edmund

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Tennis could well have a different look at the top of the rankings in four years. Roger Federer will, most likely, have retired while Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will be on the wrong side of 30.

This could open the door for Beverley’s Kyle Edmund, who recently reached the fourth round of the US Open.

At 21, Edmund already has one of the sport’s biggest forehands and is becoming a feared man on the circuit.

Further work on stamina and his serve would put him consistently among the world’s elite, although Japan’s Kei Nishikori – conqueror of Andy Murray at the US Open – could be the main man in his home country in 2020.

Matt Fitzpatrick

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Golf made its introduction to the Olympics in Rio and, despite widespread scepticism, proved a success with the viewing public.

Team GB has a gold medal to defend courtesy of Justin Rose’s glory in Brazil and 2020 could come at the right time for Sheffield prodigy Matt Fitzpatrick.

The 22-year-old has won three tournaments in two seasons on the European Tour and his consistent approach to making cuts has taken him up to a world ranking well inside the top 50.

Sheffield counterpart, and Masters champion, Danny Willett finished 52nd in Rio and is sure to challenge Fitzpatrick for a place in the Team GB squad.

Nile Wilson

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Max Whitlock broke new ground for British gymnastics at the Rio Olympics winning two gold medals and a bronze in individual finals.

Only a slip from veteran Louis Smith in the team event denied the 23-year-old from Hemel Hempstead a fourth medal.

In Whitlock’s shadow, Leeds’s Nile Wilson showed glimpses of his undeniable potential.

The 20-year-old claimed a historic bronze medal on the horizontal bar and produced a creditable performance in the men’s all-around final, finishing eighth, to suggest plenty more is to come.

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Wilson was part of Team GB’s silver-medal winning squad at the 2015 World Championships and is the current European Champion on the horizontal bar.

Having only broken into senior ranks in the last two years, Wilson’s best years are ahead of him.

Max Litchfield

It was a case of ‘oh so close’ for Pontefract swimmer Max Litchfield in Rio.

The 21-year-old’s Games came to an end on the second day, but he knew he could enjoy the rest of the Olympics with his head held high after swimming a personal best to finish fourth in the 400m individual medley.

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The City of Sheffield competitor, who began his swimming at Doncaster Dartes, won his first British title at the start of the year having finishing fourth at both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2014.

He is one of the quickest over the breaststroke leg in medley swimming.

After claiming a first international medal – silver in the 400m IM at the recent world short-course championships in Canada – he has already shown he has shaken off the habit of finishing fourth.