The Yorkshire athletes going for gold in Rio
Athletes from across West Yorkshire are gearing up to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Leeds-born boxer Nicola Adams is hoping to retain her London 2012 gold, while Alistair and Jonny Brownlee will battle to retain their triathlon silverware.
Meanwhile wheelchair sprinter Hannah Cockroft will compete in three events and stands a chance of beating her double gold in London 2012.
Rio 2016’s opening ceremony will take place on Friday evening, midnight UK time, at the city’s rebuilt Maracanã Stadium.
A total of 42 sports will be represented across 306 events before the games close on Sunday August 21.
The Paralympics will follow on September 7 and will run until September 18.
West Yorkshire has supplied another solid set of athletes to compete in this year’s Olympic and Paralympic games.
One of only two GB weight-lifters heading to Rio is 17-year-old Rebekah Tiler, who lives in Todmorden.
Competing in her first Olympic Games, Rebekah has already broken two national records at the Cybex British Championships in the women’s 69kg section in June.
At 16 she became Britain’s youngest ever national weight-lifting champion.
Playing a supporting role to the Brownlee brothers, Halifax’s Gordon Benson will be one of a six-strong GB triathlon team.
But the 22-year-old athlete struck out on his own last year to win gold in the European Games triathlon.
Wakefield diver Alicia Blagg will become a two-time Olympian at just 19, four years after making her debut at London 2012.
She will form part of an 11-strong Team GB diving squad heading to this summer’s Rio Olympics with six of the contingent from Yorkshire and five from the City of Leeds Diving Club.
Lois Toulson, from Gomersal, will be the youngest member of Team GB’s diving squad at just 16.
Also a member of Leeds Diving Club, Lois set her sights on Olympic glory after becoming national champion aged 15.
She won the national 10m platform title in February last year and followed up with a gold medal at the European Games.
Pontefract-born swimmer Max Litchfield will represent the country in the 400m swimming individual medley.
Max clinched gold, and a place in Team GB’s Rio squad, in the men’s 400m individual medley at the British Swimming Championships in Glasgow.
And another strong group of West Yorkshire athletes will go for gold in the Paralympic Games, which will begin September 7.
Halifax’s double Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft is confident Britain will not only reach their medal target in Rio but will “blow it out of the water”.
The 24-year-old wheelchair sprinter claimed two of Team GB’s 34 gold at London 2012 in the women’s 100m T34 and 200m T34.
Mytholmroyd’s Steve Bate, who will be 39 when the tournament begins, will compete in the visually impaired tandem cycling event.
Since being selected onto the podium squad at the end of 2014, Steve has been selected for the para-cycling track world championships and the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, as well as winning numerous medals at road world cup level.
Halifax hand-cyclist Karen Darke, 45, claimed the silver medal in the H 1-2 time trial at London 2012.
At the CI Para-cycling Road World Cup she won double silver in the H3 road race and time trial.
Wheelchair rugby player Harry Brown became the youngest player to represent the GB men’s senior team at the 2011 BT Paralympic World Cup at 16.
The Halifax athlete, 22, won his qualification for Rio and a third consecutive European Championship title last year.
Sophie Carrigill, from Wakefield, has been selected to co-captain the women’s wheelchair basketball team.
Sophie is a graduate of the British Paralympic Association’s Inspiration Programme, and was given the opportunity to attend London 2012 to learn more about what it takes to compete in the Paralympic Games.
Castleford’s Leah Evans has also been selected for the basketball squad and was named co-captain of the GB Women’s U25 Team alongside Siobhan Fitzpatrick for the 2016 Women’s U25 European Championships.
Our sister paper The Pontefract & Castleford Express launched the ‘Let’s Get Leah to Rio’ campaign after the teen was selected for the team’s provisional squad last year.
Jamie Stead, of Normanton, will compete as part of the wheelchair rugby team.
He also holds three gold medals in swimming at a national level and has also tried his hand at wheelchair basketball.
He made his wheelchair rugby international debut in 2014 and has gone on to represent the country at the European and World Championships.