Three female Sheffield athletes to watch out for in the Toyko Olympics 2020

Bryony Page feared her trampolining gymnastics career had spun dramatically out of control after soaring to silver at Rio 2016.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 10:45 am
Sheffield-based British Climbing Athlete Shauna Coxsey poses for photos as part of Team GB announcement for the Tokyo Olympics at Climbing Works. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

But the Sheffield-based ace is back in the big time and says she’s never been hungrier to bounce all the way to Olympic glory in Tokyo this summer.

Page scooped individual silver in Brazil five years ago and has been officially selected alongside Laura Gallagher in Team GB’s trampolining team for Japan.

An ankle injury after Rio left her having major doubts but Page, a 2013 team world champion, says those demons have been firmly banished ahead of her second shot at gold.

Lauren Smith (L) and Chloe Birch (R) of Great Britain in the Badminton team selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

The 30-year-old, who competes in Tokyo on July 30, said: “I went straight from the high of Rio, when I felt like I could do anything, to then going pretty much straight into injury rehab.

“That doubt just started to kick in about whether I was going to be able to get back to the standard I wanted to be at.“That was the hard bit. Then once I was able to get to a standard, I felt like I was back up and competing and just starting to be able to enjoy that again.

“That’s where the motivation came from – wanting to break that glass ceiling or wanting to break, and push past, what I've been able to achieve before.

“It feels a bit surreal that it's my second Olympics – I just would never have thought that I could do this, so it's really lovely and I'm so excited and proud to experience another Olympic Games.”

Meanwhile Shauna Coxsey insists her unexpected decision to retire after Tokyo 2020 will not stunt the rise of climbing’s profile as it makes its historic Olympic debut.

Sheffield-based Coxsey, 28, will blaze a trail in Japan on August 4 as she becomes the first climber to represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games.

But she stunned her 423,000 Instagram followers last month by announcing this summer’s showpiece will be her last event as a competitive athlete.

Coxsey – who specialises in the bouldering discipline – has racked up a bulging haul of World Championship and World Cup medals but wants to focus on professional outdoor rock climbing away from the demands of competition.

Coxsey, who is joining forces with Team GB to get the nation active through a new grassroots initiative called ‘I Am Team GB’, said: “When it was announced that climbing was going to be part of the Games, it was at a time when I’d achieved everything I wanted to in the competitive world.

“I have no regrets at all about my decision to push towards the Games, but rock climbing has always been something that I’m passionate about.

“It feels like the right time – I’m not going to get a bigger event in my sport than a first Games to retire on.

Also competing is proud northerner Chloe Birch who reckons inter-team fireworks and honest conversations can propel her and women’s doubles partner Lauren Smith to Tokyo 2020 glory.

Sheffield-based badminton ace Birch was selected in Team GB’s squad for this summer’s Olympics alongside Smith, Marcus Ellis, Toby Penty, Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.

Birch, who is originally from Preston, and Smith have racked up a raft of titles on the globetrotting BWF Tour and will be gunning to go one better than their silver medal at this year’s European Championships.

Smith, from Carlisle, and Birch have endured a rocky relationship since first joining forces but the latter believes their collective quest for success can haul them onto the podium in Japan.

Birch, who is ranked world number 14 with Smith in the women’s doubles and competes in Tokyo on Saturday, said: “We’ve definitely grown as a pair over the past few years.

“There have been challenges, don’t get me wrong – and nothing’s perfect 100 per cent of the time.

“We don’t get on 100 per cent of the time and there are little things we have to get over, but we both have that end goal, which is Tokyo – and the end goal of performing to the best of our ability,” she added.

“We’re both northern, we’re both feisty and we’re both a little stubborn at times. Some things happen, but you work through it.

“You always know that you’re both putting in 100 per cent together to the best result and as long as you always have that, you can get through pretty much anything.