TO MARK the end of 2015, Plymouth Sports Gazette has taken a look back at the athletes and teams who made the headlines on this website during the last 12 months.
Here is our list of the athletes and teams of the year. (It is only athletes who have featured in stories on this site and who still have Plymouth connections).
PLYMOUTH Diving’s Couch enjoyed a tremendous 2015 World Series campaign and became overall champion – the first British female to achieve the feat. She reached every individual final in the six World Series legs and claimed four medals. Couch also won three World Series synchro medals with fellow Plymothian Sarah Barrow. To cap a good year, Couch also reached the individual World Championship final in Kazan – her fourth world final – which qualified Great Britain a quota place at the Rio Olympic Games.
PLYMOUTH-born Daley enjoyed a successful 2015. He reclaimed his British title in his home city in February, beating fellow Plymothian Matthew Dixon. Daley then won four individual medals at the World Series, including a stunning gold in front of home fans at London. The 21-year-old then capped his year by winning a gold and a bronze at the World Championships in Kazan. Along with Leeds diver Rebecca Gallentree, Daley won the inaugural 10m mixed title before claiming bronze in the men’s 10m platform final. In doing so he qualified Great Britain an Olympic quota place.
TEENAGER Arnott pushed his Paralympic claims with a storming 12 months, which saw him become under-23 world junior 200m champion in his category and win medals at two IPC Grand Prix events, despite only being 18 years-old. His performances in 2015 saw him reach the final three for the prestigious SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award.
FORMER Plymouth College pupil Slade became one of the most talked about rugby stars in the country in 2015. After enjoying success with Exeter Chiefs he forced his way into the England squad and was handed a debut against France in a World Cup warm-up match. His performance on his debut resulted in him winning a spot in England’s World Cup squad. Unfortunately, he was not used until England could no longer qualify for the quarter-finals, but when he did play against Uruguay he showed what England had been missing with an outstanding display at centre. The former Ivybridge junior and Plymouth Albion player scored a stunning individual try in that game and had a hand in a number of other tries. Disappointingly for Slade his year ended by suffering a broken leg.
PLYMOUTH Leander’s Olympic champion Meilutyte topped the world rankings again for the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:05.46 and the 50m event with 29.74 seconds. The teenager won silver at the World Championships in Kazan in the 100m competition, where she was just edged out by controversial home swimmer Yuliya Efimova. Melutyte is now back training hard for the 2016 Olympics after breaking her elbow in September.
PROUD claimed both the 50m freestyle and butterfly titles at the British Championships and took silver in the 100m freestyle. He reached two individual World Championship finals in Kazan, won medals at the Mare Nostrum Series and then capped off a great year by breaking four British short course records in as many days at the National Winter Meet in Sheffield. Proud smashed the long-standing 50m butterfly and freestyle previous best marks and broke the 100m freestyle record twice.
FORMER Plymouth Argyle player and Marjons student Rose finally became a full England international in 2015. The former Estover Community College pupil, who plays for Arsenal in the Women’s Super League, had been knocking on the door for the past couple of years. She had been in England senior squads before but never got on the field. However that changed in November when she came on as a substitute in a Euro 2017 qualifying match against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
PLYMOUTH winter sports star Moore claimed two medals at the IPC Para-snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain. He won silver in the banked-slalom, having won bronze in the snowboard-cross event four days earlier.
ALTHOUGH by her own high standards, 2015 was not as successful individually as some previous years for 2014 European champion Barrow due to injury, she still claimed silver at the British Championships and reached the World Championships semi-finals. The Plymouth diving star also enjoyed a successful partnership with Tonia Couch, which saw them win three World Series medals, including a silver in Canada, and claim a top six World Championships finish.
IVYBRIDGE Community College pupil Battershill had a tremendous year, capped by reaching the IAAF World Youth Championship 2,000m steeplechase final in Cali, Colombia. Battershill was one of only five European athletes to reach the final of an event dominated by Africa nations. Erme Valley Harrier Battershill was Great Britain’s only representative in the steeplechase. He was selected after being the top UK-based under-20 at that event in 2015. The 17-year-old has continued his good form into the cross country season, winning the under-20 South West Championship title and winning the senior race at the Newquay Westward League meet in recent weeks.
SPRINT hurdler King really made his breakthrough at senior level in 2015. He set new personal bests of 13.69 seconds (legal) and 13.61 (wind assisted). The City of Plymouth 21-year-old ended the year in the UK’s top five seniors and second ranked under-23. He also claimed fourth place at the European Under-23 Championships, having qualified for the final fastest. His form saw him rewarded with a place at the Anniversary Games IAAF Diamond League meeting at the London Olympic Stadium.
IVYBRIDGE Community College pupil Bramley could not have asked for a better sporting year. The 16-year-old claimed five national titles in three different sports. He won the British Youth Triathlon Championships, the British Super Series Triathlon title, the British Aquathlon Championship, the English Aquathlon title and the National Indoor Rowing Championships. He also showed his running prowess by winning the South West Championships 3,000m title and coming second in the Plymouth 10k at just 16. As well as winning the British Triathlon Championships in Liverpool, Bramley also claimed victory at the prestigious London Triathlon.
OLYMPIC hopeful Bryson enjoyed a fine 12 months. Having started the year by becoming British Under-19 champion, she ended it ranked in the world’s top 15th at youth level in the modern pentathlon. The Plymouth College pupil finished fifth at the European Youth A Championships in the Czech Republic, finished 11th in the World Youth A Championship in Argentina and helped Great Britain to second in the women’s team relay at the World Championships.
PLYMOUTH fencer Simms-Lymn, competing for Jamaica, won gold at the Cadet Junior Pan-American Fencing Championships in Canada. She also won two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Junior Fencing Championships in Cape Town, South Africa. The Plymouth College pupil also won gold in the under-16 epee at the British Youth Fencing Championships.
PLYMOUTH Diving’s Birch won a European silver medal in the women’s synchro platform event with Great Britain team-mate Georgia Ward in Rostock. They also won a bronze medal at the FINA Canada Cup Grand Prix in Gatineau. Individually, Birch competed at the World University Games in South Korea, where she finished an impressive fifth and top European in the 10m event.
SPRINGBOARD specialist Gayle won the one-metre British Championship title with an impressive display at the Life Centre. She also took bronze in the three-metre event. Gayle also competed for Great Britain at the World University Games in South Korea, reaching the three-metre final.
HAVING impressed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Dixon enjoyed another impressive year in 2015. He won the boys’ B British Elite Junior platform title and finished second to Tom Daley in the British Senior Championships in Plymouth. Dixon also competed at the inaugural European Games in Baku, where the 15-year-old just missed out on an individual medal in the platform event, finishing fourth.
DIXON’S cousin Lobb also enjoyed a good 12 months in the diving pool. She took silver in the platform event at the British Elite Junior Championships, behind senior champion Lois Toulson. She the won gold at the Dresden Youth International Meet in Germany before finishing fourth at the European Games in Baku.
PLYMOUTH Leander’s Laura Stephens claimed a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly event at the European Games in Baku with a personal best swim. She also came 11th in the 200m event at the World Junior Championships in Singapore later in the year.
PLYMOUTH Leander swimmer Fannon made a splash in 2015 by clocking a stunning national age group record of 22.48 seconds to take silver behind team-mate and Commonwealth Games champion Ben Proud in the 50m freestyle event at the British Championships in London. The Devonian was selected to compete at the European Games in Baku and also the Junior World Championships in Singapore, where he reached the semi-finals.
DEVONPORT High School for Girls’ pupil Ward was a key member of the Great Britain under-17 water polo team that qualified and competed at the European Games in Baku. The 16-year-old Devonport Royal player had been voted player of the tournament at an ASA inter-regional tournament ahead of Baku.
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
IVYBRIDGE enjoyed another tremendous year by winning promotion to National Three South West. It was their second successive promotion and places them in the fifth tier of English rugby. Their second and third sides also won the Lockie and Ellis Cups and their colts and junior teams enjoyed more success. Ivybridge have made an encouraging start to life at the higher level and sit mid-table at the halfway point.
ARGYLE end 2015 on top of League Two after a great start to the 2015/16 season under new manager Derek Adams. The Scotsman took over at Home Park from John Sheridan, who left the club after guiding Argyle to the promotion play-off semi-finals.
SWIMMING club Plymouth Leander won the National Swimming League title for an astonishing seventh time in eight years in 2015. They also dominated the relay events at the ASA National Swimming Championships and had a host of athletes earn representative honours.
THE city speedway outfit managed to reach the Premier League play-offs for the first time in 2015, before losing out to Glasgow. It was a massive improvement on previous seasons.
THE Bickleigh Down-based rugby club claimed the Devon One title to secure a second successive promotion. They also reached the Lockie Cup and Ellis Trophy finals. They have made a good start to life in the Cornwall/Devon League and sit in the top half of the table at the halfway mark. They have also set up an under-13 team and a mini rugby section.
THE city rugby team won promotion from Devon Two and also won the RNEC Cup. At the halfway point of the 2015/16 season they are still in the running for a second successive promotion and are still in the RFU Junior Vase and Devon Junior Vase.