Jubilant July for our region’s sports stars – now its over to the Olympians and Paralympians
- Credit: PA
After an epic month for sports stars in our region David Freezer looks back on a remarkable July – as Olympic dreams move centre stage.
The month of July was really rather special for the sports stars of Norfolk and north Suffolk.
From the joy of an Ironman British record, to Norfolk's first Wimbledon champion and an England cricket debut – July has been particularly memorable.
Horsford cyclist Sophie Wright got the month off to a flying start with fourth place at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship.
The 17-year-old Hellesdon High School sixth-form student, who is part of British Cycling's Olympic Junior Academy, was competing in the junior women's cross-country category in the Czech Republic.
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On July 5 it was time for Brandon' cricketer Tymal Mills to take centre stage, as the 23-year-old fast bowler helped England to an eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 clash in Southampton.
Alfie Hewett then enjoyed the greatest day of his young sporting life on July 9, when he won the men's wheelchair doubles final alongside British partner Gordon Reid at Wimbledon.
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The Norwich-born 18-year-old played the game of his life to help secure a 4-6 6-1 7-6 (8-6) win over top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer.
On the same weekend as Andy Murray winning his second men's title, Hewett was catapulted to stardom overnight, with national television appearances – and even a mention in Primer Minister's Questions.
Professional triathlete Kimberley Morrison secured third place in the women's race at Ironman 70.3 Jönköping in Sweden on the same day.
The 28-year-old, from Bale, near Fakenham, completed the event – made up of a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle and a 21.1km run – in a time of four hours, 25 minutes and 20 seconds.
There was even more success on Norfolk's very own Super Saturday though, with Wesley Matsuka-Williams winning triple jump gold at the English Schools Athletics Championships.
The City of Norwich AC athlete won the intermediate boys (under-17) title with a fine jump of 14.46 metres, only two centimetres ahead of the second placed athlete at Gateshead.
That saw the 16-year-old selected to represent England in a Schools International match at Ashford the next weekend, where he also won when he jumped a personal best with a wind-assisted jump of 15.43 metres.
The next day it was the turn of Dereham high jump star Chris Baker to enjoy success, winning a bronze medal at the European Athletics Championship in Amsterdam with a jump of 2.25m.
The 25-year-old also had his place in the Team GB squad for the Rio Olympics confirmed later in the month.
July 18 brought an outstanding achievement which is now indelibly written in the triathlon history books, when Cringleford athlete Joe Skipper became the first Briton to complete an Ironman in under eight hours.
The Lowestoft-raised endurance star completed Challenge Roth in Germany – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and a marathon 26.22-mile run – in seven hours, 56 minutes and 23 seconds to finish in second place and beat the previous British record by more than five minutes.
It's been quite a month, with plenty of other sporting successes to savour as well.
Now it's over to our local Olympians and Paralympians to keep the sporting flame burning bright in August and September.