COLUMN: Andrea Jenkyns MP - Pride in Yorkshire’s Olympians

Boxer Nicola Adams at Pye Bank CofE Primary School to launch the Get Set to Eat Fresh school initiative. Picture: Andrew Roe
Boxer Nicola Adams at Pye Bank CofE Primary School to launch the Get Set to Eat Fresh school initiative. Picture: Andrew Roe

Seeing athletes such as Jack Laugher and Jessica Ennis-Hill succeed at the Rio 2016 Olympics, I can’t help but feel proud of the sporting excellence Yorkshire is producing.

Jack, who trains at the City of Leeds Diving Centre, won gold in the men’s 3m synchronised springboard dive.

Jessica won silver in the heptathlon.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Yorkshire athletes won so many medals that if we had been considered an independent country we would have finished in 12th position in the overall medal table.

Having recently visited residential care homes operated by Craegmoor such as Dolphin Lane in Thorpe, Ardsley House in East Ardsley, Gateholme in Carr Gate and the Evolve Fight Club, I am not surprised.

The enthusiasm Craegmoor encourages for sport is incredible, clearly noticeable as Ardsley House won Aspire CBS’ Boccia Tournament.

The Olympic fever gripped the residents as they were able to emulate the superstars in Rio for the day.

At the Evolve Fight Club, young people are able to train with professional boxers, and, just as in Ardsley House, they are given confidence through sport.

The owner of Evolve, Phil, really cares about social mobility and wants his club to give young people a greater chance in life and keep them off of the streets.

Nicola Adams is the perfect example of a Yorkshire athlete who has benefitted from boxing, having won gold in London 2012 and gearing up to shine again in Rio.

Hopefully some of the members of Evolve and Craegmoor’s care homes can follow in Nicola’s footsteps use sport to improve their lives and motivate others to do the same.

While recognising the achievements of Yorkshire and British athletes, I think it is also important to remember how John Major influenced British sport.

Before the 1992 election, Major suggested the idea of a national lottery being used to fund sporting development.

Many were sceptical, however, as only scraps and leftovers of the budget were going to sport, something clearly had to be done.

By introducing a national lottery as a means to fund sporting infrastructure, Major helped Britain elevate from 36th in the Medal table at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to third at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

His influence on sport was also felt beyond the professional sphere, as care homes such as Dolphin Lane, Ardsley House and Gateholme continue to recognise the influence sport has on everyone.

We hope Yorkshire athletes will continue propelling GB up the medal table, and hopefully improve upon our third place position at London 2012.

I look forward to watching the remainder of the Olympics, and I will be cheering on our British athletes the entire way!

If you would like to get in contact with me, please don’t hesitate to email me at andrea.jenkyns.mp@parliament.uk or, if you would like to see me in person, visit me at my surgery on Friday, September 2.