War­ring­ton leaves best for last as we salute 2018 White Rose he­roes

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT -

FROM Kyle Ed­mund’s break­through to Katie Ormerod’s bro­ken heel, Leeds Rhi­nos’ down­fall to Rother­ham United’s re­vival, 2018 has been a year of highs and lows in York­shire sport.

There have been in­di­vid­ual achieve­ments aplenty with sea­soned cham­pi­ons like Jack Laugher and Nile Wil­son joined at the very top of their sport by Josh War­ring­ton.

Plus a rich York­shire seam to many a na­tional team tri­umph, too. The bedrock of the Eng­land foot­ball team’s run to the World Cup semi-fi­nals in Rus­sia was forged from York­shire steel, and let us not for­get man­ager Gareth South­gate lives in Har­ro­gate.

Plus ar­guably the golden mo­ment of the sport­ing year was Eng­land’s Red Roses win­ning the Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal against Aus­tralia in their own back­yard, an achieve­ment aided by a for­mer York­shire Jet Natalie Haythorn­th­waite.

So, as the fi­nal page turns to­wards 2019 what bet­ter time to salute the White Rose he­roes of 2018 than the clos­ing day of the year?

It all be­gan Down Un­der, when Bev­er­ley’s Ed­mund proved there is life in Bri­tish men’s ten­nis beyond Andy Mur­ray when he stormed into the semi-fi­nals of the Aus­tralian Open.

Around about the time his coun­ty­men Joe Root and Jonny Big Air, Ormerod broke her heel in two places dur­ing a prac­tice run on the eve of the Games, end­ing her hopes there and then.

While much of the na­tional at­ten­tion fell on an­other luck­less Olympian in speed skater Elise Christie, Ormerod is an­other Bri­tish ath­lete who will hope her time will come in four years.

Back in Aus­tralia for the Com­mon­wealth Games in April, two of York­shire’s most con­sis­tent per­form­ers had their own per­sonal medal-win­ning con­test as Leeds gym­nast Wil­son claimed three gold medals and two sil­vers while Har­ro­gate diver Laugher un­der­lined his sta­tus as the best in the world on the 3m spring­board with a hat-trick of gold medals.

There was also suc­cess for Sh­effield swim­mer El­lie Faulkner, Wetherby triath­lete Jess Lear­month in the com­pany of the Brown­lee broth­ers, and per­haps most poignantly a long-awaited gold medal for Pon­te­fract squash player James Will­strop in the men’s sin­gles.

Spring was also a good time for cy­cling’s Tan­field broth­ers of Great Ay­ton. Track star Char­lie, then 21, won a world ti­tle along­side team pur­suit stal­wart Ed Clancy, backed that up with a sil­ver in the Com­mon­wealth Games velo­drome and then went and won the in­di­vid­ual pur­suit ti­tle.

A month later elder brother Harry sur­prised an elite field by break­ing away into Don­caster to be­come the first York­shire male win­ner of a stage of the Tour de York­shire.

From a team per­spec­tive, Haythorn­th­waite and the net­ball stars sparkled on the Gold Coast, while a man in a waist­coat had us be­liev­ing dur­ing that golden sum­mer that Eng­land’s foot­ballers could fi­nally end decades of hurt.

Pride was re­stored at the very least by South­gate’s men thanks largely to the South York­shire de­fen­sive trio of John Stones, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire.

Back on home soil Root, Bairstow and Eng­land’s crick­eters set about re­pair­ing the dam­age of the Ashes, which they did to some ex­tent with con­vinc­ing Test se­ries vic­to­ries over In­dia and out in Sri Lanka.

Lo­cally, Head­in­g­ley played host to Eng­land’s women’s crick­eters, com­plete with lo­cal lasses Kather­ine Brunt and Lauren Win­field, while Mil­lie Bright, Rachel Daly and El­lie Roe­buck rep­re­sented foot­ball’s Li­onesses in front of home crowds at Rother­ham’s New York Sta­dium.

Talk­ing of New York, the job Paul Warne did in trans­form­ing the for­tunes of rel­e­gated Rother­ham into a pro­moted team in un­der 12 months was among the top ac­com­plish­ments of the club foot­ball year, bet­tered only – depend­ing on who you sup­port – by David Wag­ner’s achieve­ment in keep­ing Hud­der­s­field Town in the Premier League.

One of the more cu­ri­ous sto­ries of the year was the col­lapse of Leeds Rhi­nos from cham­pi­ons to rel­e­ga­tion fod­der, while 2018 was a dif­fi­cult sum­mer for York­shire County Cricket Club, with their First Di­vi­sion sta­tus only se­cured in the fi­nal month.

A re­turn to the win­ner’s cir­cle for Danny Willett – a for­mer Mas­ters cham­pion seem­ingly on his knees – was a tri­umph for in­ner be­lief, but it was not the per­for­mance of the year.

That came on the penul­ti­mate Satur­day of 2018 with War­ring­ton’s dis­man­tling of Carl Framp­ton in de­fence of the world ti­tle he had won in sim­i­larly en­thralling fash­ion in front of his beloved El­land Road crowd in May.

War­ring­ton’s el­e­va­tion was the un­ex­pected high­light of an­other mem­o­rable year for York­shire sport.

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