By Amos Joseph
Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic stars have been treated to a warm reception following their extraordinary performance at Tokyo 2020 games.
The event held at First Arena, Leeds, was organised by all Yorkshire’s 22 councils with the host City Council acting as lead organiser supported by Yorkshire and Humber Councils.
The guests and attendees were entertained by Yorkshire’s top pop band The Skylights, with other performances by Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Prose’s live poetry, Bongo Warriors, and Spark LED drummers.
Lord Mayor of Leeds Ashgar Khan said their heroics are recognized and well appreciated by the people of Yorkshire.
“The game has showcased to the global audience that we should all not be judged by what we cannot do but what we can. We are all inspired and delighted by your talent, dedication, and humility.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin thanked the athletes for putting the region on the global map again in a positive light.
“I feel emotional. It’s not just talented athletes but we also have phenomenal dancers and singers. What an amazing place Yorkshire is.
“It was different because people couldn’t be there. They were family and friends watching on television. One of the highlights was to see the reaction of family and friends in pubs and living rooms all across the country waiting for that special moment. I’m hoping that the Paralympians and Olympians could hear the joy coming from all of us. Those Olympians and Paralympians did us proud!”
Paralympic world record Wheelchair racing champion Hannah Cockroft MBE who successfully retained her women’s 100 metres T34 Paralympic title reminisced about Tokyo 2020: “There was no crowd, no coaches or athletes, there was literally nobody there.
“At the start, it didn’t bother me. We are Paralympians and we are used to the empty stands. This could be my last time in the race and there was no one there to watch it.
“Thank you for this. The athletes of Yorkshire are getting that cheer that was missing whilst we were out there. We are so lucky to have that support.
Britain’s first Taekwondo Olympic champion, Bradly Sinden, was also part of the celebration after Silver at Tokyo “We lost at the very end but we did put the medals on the table. We did and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, gaining silver. I’m now ranked number one so to take that from being started at the bottom in 2016 to get where I am now standing at the top. I still have a long way to go.
“I think Yorkshire people just like fighting (he laughs). I’m privileged to be a part of Yorkshire.”
Sheffield’s Trampolining star, Bryony Page won Silver, said it was a challenging experience performing under self-inflicted pressure.
“For the crowd not to be there felt strange and different to what I felt in Rio which was very exciting, ” she said.
“It almost felt like a glorified trial event. In Trampolining, we don’t get a massive crowd because it’s such a small sport so going to the Olympics and seeing the crowd will make such a massive impact. I found it challenging for me to know that others might feel it helps them because they might be nervous about the crowd.