Other sport

2016 REVIEW: A look back at the top Plymouth sports stories over the past 12 months

2016review

IT has once again been a busy year for sport in and around Plymouth. We have covered lots of stories and here is our review of the last 12 months.

JANUARY

Sarah Barrow, Andy Banks, Tonia Couch

In diving, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow finish first and second in the platform event at the National Cup in Southend, while Tom Daley won both the individual event and the synchro competition with Dan Goodfellow. All four divers were named in the Great Britain squad for the FINA World Cup in Rio.

There were plenty of positive athletics stories that month, with Poppy Tank finishing second in the under-20 race at the British Athletics Cross Country Challenge in Cardiff, David King setting a new personal best and beating David Omoregie at the Welsh Senior Championships in Cardiff and Mike Wilsmore winning the South of England 1,500m indoor title.

In swimming, Ben Proud started his year by winning two titles and setting two records at the Euro Meet event in Luxembourg, while 2012 Olympic 100m breaststroke champion and world record holder Ruta Meilutyte began her comeback from a broken elbow.

Graham Dawe 22Plymouth Albion boss Graham Dawe was invited to help England prepare for their Six Nations campaign by Eddie Jones, who wanted to improve his team’s scrum.

Dawe’s Albion side continued their move up the National One table with away wins over Rosslyn Park, Fylde and Esher and a home victory over Coventry, which saw Jake Murphy score his first hat-trick for the club.

Also in rugby, Tamar Saracens reached the South West Vase final by beating Cornish side Veor.

Plymouth Argyle had a mixed month. They claimed wins over Carlisle and Stevenage, but lost to Northampton and Wycombe and drew with Bristol Rovers.

FEBRUARY

Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow secured Great Britain an Olympic platform synchro place by claiming a stunning bronze medal at the FINA World Cup in Rio after being reunited as a pair for the vital competition.

Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow also secured an Olympic synchro spot and a bronze medal on their international debut as a pair.

img_3625 Mike WilsmoreIn athletics, Tamar Trotters’ Mike Wilsmore enjoyed an impressive debut for England by claiming victory in the 1,500m at the Bratislava Indoor Meet in Slovakia in a time of 3:48.47, while Tavistock’s Tess Masselink won bronze in the under-20 race at the Southern Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill and Will Battershill and Poppy Tank won South West Schools’ Cross Country titles. There was also a new indoor PB for Erme Valley Harriers triple jump star Sam Trigg at the Don Kirby Invitation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while David King just missed out on his dream of qualifying for the World Indoor Championships by finishing fourth at the British Championships. He was just 0.01 seconds off the qualifying mark.

Plymouth Albion’s Christian Judge was named in the England Counties squad for 2016, while Courtney Gill was named in the England Women’s squad for their Six Nations opener against Scotland.

Plymouth Albion enjoyed an unbeaten month to close in on the National One leaders, while Tamar Saracens narrowly lost to Gloucestershire side Widden in the National Junior Vase competition.

Plymouth Argyle were also unbeaten in February, securing wins over Mansfield and Notts County and drawing with Crawley and Yeovil.

In swimming, Ben Proud impressed at the BUCS Championships with a British 50m record and a BUCS 100m record.

MARCH

Myles PillagePlymouth College pentathlete Myles Pillage topped the podium at the Great Britain Youth Modern International event in Solihull. The competition attracted athletes from 10 different countries.

Fellow modern penathlete Kerenza Bryson was handed her Great Britain senior debut at the Swiss Women’s International in Bern. Bryson impressed in Switzerland, finishing fifth, just eight points off a medal.

Tonia Couch, Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow all won medals at the opening World Diving Series event in Beijing and then followed it up with more success in Dubai.

Also in diving, teenager Victoria Vincent won gold for Great Britain at the Seven Nations Youth Diving Meet in Edinburgh. Vincent also enjoyed success at the British Junior Championships which were held at the end of March at the Life Centre in Plymouth. Aidan Heslop won three titles at the British Junior Championships, while Kayleigh Sinclair and Shanice Lobb also claimed golds.

Swimming stars Ben Proud and Ruta Meilutyte impressed at the Edinburgh International Meet. Proud set a new personal best in the 100m freestyle, while Meilutyte showed she was back from her broken elbow by winning the 100m breaststroke by more than two seconds and in a time that put her second in the early world rankings. Meilutyte then backed that up by setting the world’s fastest 50m breaststroke swim of the year at the Stockholm Open.

At the end of March, Plymouth Albion chairman Peter Vosper caused a major shock by announcing the club were giving notice to go into administration in order to sell the club to new owners. At the time Albion, with just one defeat to their name since November, were pushing for promotion having achieved another unbeaten month with big wins over Darlington and Blackheath.

Albion hooker Rupert Freestone was called up into the England Students’ squad for their matches with France and Ireland.

Charlie Briant IvybridgeIvybridge narrowly missed out on reaching the Devon Senior Cup final. They were beaten 18-9 in the semi-final by eventual champions Exmouth.

Plymouth Argyle’s automatic promotion hopes suffered a big blow with defeats against Barnet, Accrington Stanley and Luton Town, although they did finish the month with wins over Morecambe and York City.

In athletics, Will Battershill claimed a top five finish at the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships for the second year running. There was also a top 10 finish for Poppy Tank at that event and the Inter-Counties Championships later that month.

APRIL

Graham Dawe lifted aloft by AlbionApril was dominated by events at Brickfields. The pre-packaged takeover of Plymouth Albion by Dave Venables and Bruce Priday was completed but it came at cost with the club docked 30 points for going into administration.

The new owners then shocked supporters by asking director of rugby Graham Dawe to leave after a successful season where he had rebuilt the side following their relegation under James Shanahan from the Championship. Backs coach Simon Lane and conditioning coach Tristan Lark then decided to leave the club after the new owners asked Exeter Chiefs to supply some coaches.

Fly-half Billy Searle and prop Ollie Dawe announced they were leaving the club to join Bristol, while scrum-half Cameron Setter broke his leg in Albion’s last home match. However, despite all the upheaval at the club, the players finished the season on a high becoming the only team to do the double over Hartpury College and champions Richmond.

Elsewhere in rugby, Tamar Saracens secured the Devon One title by beating South Molton, but Saltash, OPMs and St Columba & Torpoint were all relegated from their respective leagues. Tavistock, though, produced an impressive final month to avoid dropping out of the Cornwall/Devon League.  Ivybridge ended April unbeaten to finish eighth in their first season in National Three South West, while their colts reached the National Plate final.

Old Techs ended a 16-year wait to win back the Lockie Cup, while Devonport Services won the South West Under-18 Ladies’ plate final.

In football, Plymouth Argyle went into their last match knowing they would agonisingly miss out on automatic promotion in League Two. Defeats in April against Devon rivals Exeter City, Portsmouth and Dagenham in April proved crucial.

Ben ProudAt the British Swimming Championships, which were doubling as the Olympic trials, Ben Proud booked his place on the plane to Rio by winning the 50m freestyle final in the qualifying time. However, he had to settle for second in the 100m freestyle final behind Duncan Scott. Unfortunately, fellow Leander swimmer Antony James missed out on competing at a second Olympic Games despite finishing second in the 100m butterfly final.

Proud and young Plymouth Leander team-mates Tom Fannon, Jessica Jackson and Laura Stephens were named in Great Britain’s squad for the European Championships.

Travis Bramley, who had dominated the British triathlon and duathlon scene at youth level in 2015, finished fifth on his debut at junior level at the British Duathlon Championships in Windsor. Unfortunately, a serious back injury was to ruin the rest of Bramley’s season.

Plymouth athletes Sharn Hooper, Nicola Noble and Millie Wilson all won age group gold medals at the ETU Cross Duathlon European Championships in Romania.

In athletics, City of Plymouth’s Simon Anderson successfully defended his European Indoor Masters’ 1,500m title in Italy, while Victoria Weir started what was to be a tremendously successful track season by setting a new 1,500m PB at the Spring Warm-Up Meet at Brickfields, clocking 4:30.4.

Taunton’s Phil Burdon won the Plymouth Half Marathon, which saw nearly 5,000 runners finish.

In diving, Tonia Couch, Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow won more FINA World Series medals in Windsor and Kazan, while Matthew Dixon claimed platform gold at the Dresden Youth International in Germany, with Plymouth team-mates Victoria Vincent, Kayleigh Sinclair and Alfie Brown picking up bronze medals.

Plymouth Raiders once again missed out on the BBL play-offs, finishing ninth in the table, just two points behind eighth-placed Leeds.

MAY

argylePlymouth Argyle suffered Wembley heartache when they were beaten 2-0 in the League Two play-off final by AFC Wimbledon in front of nearly 60,000 people.

Lyle Taylor and Adebayo Akinfenaw scored Wimbledon’s goals to end the Pilgrims’ hopes of promotion.

Argyle, who had finished fifth in the league after losing their form in the last two months, had overcome Portsmouth in the semi-finals. They drew 2-2 at Fratton Park and then won 1-0 at Home Park six days later courtesy of a goal by Peter Hartley. The two semi-final games were watched by more than 32,000 people.

On the same weekend as Argyle suffered disappointment at Wembley, Cornwall’s rugby team enjoyed delight at Twickenham by beating Cheshire 35-13 to retain the County Championship for the first time in their history.

Cornwall, coached by Graham Dawe, included Albion players Herbie Stupple, Sam Matavesi, Matt Shepherd, Billy Searle, Robin Wedlake, Christian Judge, Rupert Freestone, Jake Murphy and Jon Dawe in their squad that day.

Matt Shepherd and Herbie Stupple with their medals after Sunday's final

Shepherd, who scored a try and kicked three conversions and three penalties in the final, received a late call-up to the England Counties squad to tour Canada. Devon’s Dan Williams was also included in the England Counties squad.

Shepherd, Stupple, Nile Daces and Dan Pullinger all gave Albion a boost by signing new contracts that month before the club had even appointed a new coach.

Meanwhile, Ivybridge claimed victory in the National Colts’ Plate final at Bedford’s Goldington Road ground by beating Bishop Stortford.

At the European Aquatic Championships in London, there was success for Tom Daley, who scored a massive 570.50 points to win the men’s individual platform title by nearly 50 points. He also won the three-metre mixed synchro gold with Grace Reid and just missed out on a third gold in the men’s synchro. Daley and Goodfellow took silver in that event, finishing less than a point behind Germany’s Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding.

Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson suffered synchro disappointment after dropping their final dive. The pair were leading going into the last round and only needed a dive of 51 points to claim the title, but teenager Toulson made a mistake and they had to settle for fifth.

However, Couch did get a medal in the individual event, where she finished second behind Ukraine’s Iuliia Prokopchuck.

Ruta MeilutytePlymouth Leander’s Ruta Meilutyte won the European 100m breaststroke title to complete her impressive medal collection.  That had been the one major title the teenager had not yet won. Despite, coming back from a broken elbow, she clocked 1:06.17 to take gold.

Ben Proud claimed two bronze medals in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle events in London, while Plymouth College student Laura Stephens impressed on her senior championship debut by just missing out on the 100m butterfly final, finishing ninth.

At the European Masters Aquatic Championships, Plymouth Diving coach Fito Gutierrez won two golds and a silver in the 45-49 age category.

In athletics, Victoria Weir set two new PBs in the 1,500m steeplechase (5:01.92) and 3,000m (9:41.46) at UK Youth Development League meeting at Brickfields, which put her in the top five in both events in the country. She then lowered her steeplechase PB further later on in the month, clocking a UK leading time of 4:50.49 to win the Devon County Championship title. She also ran 4:37.22 to also win the 1,500m flat county crown. Will Battershill, Jade Simson, Sam Harris, Mia O’Daly and Jonathan Edwards were also among the standout winners at the Devon Championships.

Battershill also won the sold-out Ivybridge 10k, while fellow youngster Tess Masselink claimed victory in the Burrator 10k.

Sprint hurdler David King opened his outdoor season with victory at the Belfast International Meet before coming so close to causing a major upset at the televised Manchester CityGames and then setting a new PB of 13.54 seconds for the 110m hurdles at the Loughborough International Meet, which was just 0.07 seconds off the Olympic qualifying time. Battershill took third in the steeplechase at the Loughborough Meet.

James Arnott earned his first major senior call-up by securing selection for the Great Britain team for the IPC European Athletics Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

JUNE

Plymouth cricketer Heather Knight was named as England’s new women’s captain, taking over from Charlotte Edwards.

barrowDiver Sarah Barrow proved a major point by producing a stunning display to win the women’s platform event at the British Championships and meeting all the criteria for Olympic selection. Tom Daley won the men’s platform event and synchro crown with Dan Goodfellow, while Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson took the women’s syncho title.

Barrow, Couch, Daley and Goodfellow were all later confirmed in the Great Britain’s squad for the Olympic Games in Rio.

Fellow Plymouth divers Matthew Dixon, Shanice Lobb, Kayleigh Sinclair, Victoria Vincent, Aiden Heslop and Alfie Brown, meanwhile, were all named in Great Britain’s squad for the European Junior Championships.

Also selected for Great Britain’s Olympic team was former Ivybridge Community College weightlifter Sonny Webster.

Plymouth swimmers Ben Proud and Ruta Meilutyte continued their build up for Rio by winning titles at the Sette Colli Trophy Meet in Rome.

Plymouth hurdler David King thought he had set a new PB and ran under the Olympic qualifying mark at the Gala Dei Castelli meet in the Swizz city of Bellinzona. King clocked 13.40 seconds for the 110m hurdles, but the time was not ratified by British officials as there was a problem with the electronic timing in Switzerland.

King finished third at the Olympic trials behind Andy Pozzi and Lawrence Clarke in 13.57 seconds. He was just outside the qualifying time but, with three places available in Rio, had until July 11 to try and achieve it.

James ArnottJames Arnott finished seventh in his first senior major championships. Competing for Great Britain, Arnott came through a tough semi to reach the T47 100m final at the IPC European Athletics Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Will Battershill, Victoria Weir, Poppy Tank, Tess Masselink and Jade Simson all claimed new PBs that month. Steeplechaser Battershill went under four minutes for the 1,500m flat for the first time, clocking 3:58.71 to win at the UK Youth Development League meeting in Newport. At the same event, Weir ran 2:10.70 for the 800m.

Tank and Masselink’s PBs came at the BMC event in Exeter where they ran 4:33.63 and 4:36.07, respectively in the 1,500m. Masselink also set a new best in the 1,500m steeplechase of 4:53.00 at the Cornwall Schools’ Championships to move up to third in the UK rankings.

Weir won the Devon Schools’ 1,500m steeplechase title in 4:51.83, while Battershill claimed the county schools’ 2,000m steeplechase crown in 5:51.94. Both were just outside their PBs.

Battershill also won the England Under-20 3,000m steeplechase title at Bedford in 9:06.86, while King took the England Under-23 110m hurdles gold at the same venue, beating big rival David Omoregie.

Simson’s PB came on her debut at the British Senior Championships. Running in the same heat as Tiffany Porter, the City of Plymouth athlete clocked 14.21 seconds for the 100m hurdles.

Erme Valley’s Sammie Harris and City of Plymouth’s Emily Bee both also set new personal bests on their way to claiming the top two spots at the South West Schools’ Combined Events Championships at Exeter.

Former prop Dan Parkes was appointed as Plymouth Albion’s new head coach, with ex-rugby league player Martin Hall given the role of director of rugby. Nile Dacres, Herbie Stupple, Dan Pullinger, Matt Shepherd, Jon Dawe and Seti Raumakita had already re-signed for the club before Parkes’ appointment.

Later that month, Albion also appointed another former old boy Kieran Hallett as player-backs coach, but Jake Murphy, Tom Bedford, Marc Kotezcky, Elliot Bale and Gregory Sebastien announced their departures from Brickfields. Lock Dan Collier, though, agreed to re-sign and Dan Williams returned to the club after a two-season absence.

Plymouth-born rugby player Courtney Gill was named in England’s 26-player squad for their tour of North America.

Plymouth Studio School’s Kerenza Bryson retained her British under-19 modern pentathlon title in Solihull.

JULY

img_4289 Shanice Lobb and Matthew DixonPlymouth Diving’s Victoria Vincent, Matthew Dixon, Shanice Lobb and Madeline Coquoz all won medals at the European Junior Championships in Croatia.

Dixon became European boys’ A platform champion, while Vincent won the girls’ B platform title and helped GB to top the podium in the team event. Lobb took silver in the girls’ A platform, while Coquoz competing for Switzerland, won a synchro gold.

Team-mates Cody Powell-Tuckett and Evangeline Piper represented England at the Mediterranean Cup in Bolzano, Italy. Powell-Tuckett won a bronze medal, while Piper just missed out on the podium in the girls’ C platform final, finishing fourth.

In swimming, Plymouth Leander’s Laura Stephens won three bronze medals at the European Junior Championships in Hungary. Her podium finishes came in the 100m and 200m butterfly and 4x100m medley relay. Club team-mate team-mates Kregor Zirk, swimming for Estonia, and Federico Poggio, competing for Italy, also won medals.

David KingCity of Plymouth hurdler David King received a late call-up for the Great Britain squad to compete at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam. It was his first major competition as a senior athlete and offered him one last chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.

King reached the semi-finals in Holland and equalled his PB of 13.54 seconds, despite running into a strong headwind, but, crucially, the conditions prevented him running the 13.47 seconds needed to go to Rio.

King, though, did get invited to compete at the Anniversary Games Diamond League meeting in London.

James Arnott also competed at the Anniversary Games and set a new PB of 11.32 seconds for the 100m to take fourth in the T47 final. He was first under-20 and first T46 athlete.

Victoria Weir and Will Battershill both won steeplechase titles in personal best times at the English Schools’ Championships in Gateshead.

Weir smashed the championship record in the senior girls’ 1,500m steeplechase, clocking a stunning 4:40.23 to comfortably win, with Tavistock athlete Tess Masselink taking second in a new PB of 4:50.45.

Will BattershillBattershill, who had been offered a prestigious scholarship at top American university Harvard, dominated the senior boys’ 2,000m steeplechase final. He clocked 5:49.44 to win by more than seven seconds.

Fellow Ivybridge Community College pupil Mia O’Daly won bronze in the junior girls’ discus at the English Schools, while Plymouth College’s Poppy Tank was just 0.06 seconds off bronze in the senior girls’ 1,500m. She finished fourth in 4:36.53, while Jade Simson was fifth in the senior girls’ 100m hurdles.

Plymouth modern pentathletes Myles Pillage and Kerenza Bryson were named in Great Britain’s team for the Under-19 World Championships in Ireland, where they finished ninth and 13th respectively.

They then competed at the Youth A European Championships, where they teamed up to win bronze in the mixed relay event.

Tom Cowan-Dickie and Jamie Salter returned to Plymouth Albion, who also sign another forward with Championship experience, Nottingham flanker Rupert Cooper, as well as adding eight players from Exeter Chiefs on dual-registered or loan deals.

AUGUST

Dan Goodfellow and Tom DaleyAugust was dominated by the Olympic Games in Rio.

The highlights were Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow winning an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s synchro platform event and former Plymouth Marjon player Giselle Ansley helping Great Britain to an historic women’s hockey gold medal.

European champion Daley had looked like the diver to beat in the men’s platform individual event after the prelims, where he was in stunning form topping the scoring with a massive 571.85 points, but it all went wrong for him in the semi-finals and he failed to qualify for the final of the event where he had claimed bronze in London.

There was also disappointment for 2012 Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte. The youngster had done incredibly well to come back from a broken elbow just 11 months before the start of the Olympics but her lack of a full season told come the final in Rio. After coming through the heats and semis, Meilutyte, who was also distracted by the last-minute inclusion of controversial Russian Yulia Efimova, just did not have anything left for the final. She finished seventh, three seconds off her own world record.

Her Plymouth Leander team-mate Ben Proud came agonisingly close to winning a medal on his Olympic debut, finishing fourth in the men’s 50m freestyle final. He set a new British record of 21.54 seconds in the semi-finals. Proud finished the month by winning bronze at the FINA World Cup series event in Berlin.

Tonia Couch reached the women’s Olympic 10m platform final, while she and Lois Toulson finished fifth in the synchro event. Sarah Barrow missed out on progressing in the individual event.

Derek AdamsMeanwhile, Plymouth Argyle manager Derek Adams agreed a new four-year contact at Home Park.

The Pilgrims made something of a slow start to the 2016/17 losing their opening three league and cup games. However, they then went and won their final four matches in August.

In rugby, Robin Wedlake and Cameron Setter become the 13th and 14th players of the 2015/16 season’s squad to re-sign for Plymouth Albion, who also signed Matt Crosscombe from Brixham. Albion also confirmed Herbie Stupple has their club captain for the 2016/17 season.

Young Plymouth rugby player Lagi Tuima was named in England’s Under-20 squad for a three-match series against Canada.

In athletics, Mike Wilsmore set a new 1,500m personal best at the Flanders Cup in Belgium, clocking 3:43.45 to finish fifth in an international field.

Harvard-bound Will Battershill was handed his debut for Great Britain at under-20 level at the Manchester International. He finished sixth in a strong senior 2,000m steeplechase field, running 5:51.23 which was just marginally outside his PB.

Triathlete Travis Bramley began his comeback from injury by winning the Playitas Resort Gran Tarajal Swim.

SEPTEMBER

Nick HancockPlymouth Argaum’s Nick Hancock was named Amateur Player of the Year at the National Rugby Awards held at Twickenham.

Seven players were handed Plymouth Albion debuts as they opened their season with a 23-18 home win over Cambridge. They also narrowly overcame Rosslyn Park and Esher in September but lost to Hartpury College.

Plymouth Tri Club’s Ken Holder qualified for the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii after an impressive performance at Weymouth, where he was 15th overall in an international field and second in his age group. His club colleague Fin Saunders finished a ninth and was first British athlete in his category at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Mexico.

In athletics, City of Plymouth’s Emily Bee claimed a bronze medal at the English Schools’ Combined Events Championships in Exeter with a new PB of 3,243 points.

Club colleague Simon Anderson won two silver medals at the British Masters’ Championships in Birmingham.

Plymouth Argyle enjoyed an unbeaten month, claiming wins over Cheltenham, Cambridge, Exeter and Leyton Orient and drawing with Hartlepool. The run of results led to boss Derek Adams winning the League Two manager of the month award.

OCTOBER

Ben ProudPlymouth Leander’s Ben Proud was in hot form in October, winning medals at the FINA World Cup events in Beijing, Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Leander team-mate Laura Stephens was selected to travel to Arizona for a three-week altitude training camp with Great Britain.

Speedway fans were shocked to learn that the Plymouth Devils had commenced formal proceedings to liquidate the company after another season of losses.

Plymouth Albion claimed big home wins over Old Albanians, Darlington and Loughborough Students but suffered late narrow losses at Fylde and Coventry.

Old Techs beat higher league Totnes in the semi-finals to reach the inaugural David Butt Memorial Trophy final at Barnstaple, where they narrowly lost to Devon One side New Cross.

Plymouth Argyle enjoyed another unbeaten month in League Two, claiming victories over Yeovil, Stevenage, Newport and Colchester and drawing with Portsmouth.

img_1950 Giselle Ansley Marjon hockeyOlympic gold medallist Giselle Ansley was given a hero’s return when she visited her former club Plymouth Marjon, while Jim Cole was in good form to claim victory in the Tavy 7 race.

Plymouth Leander’s Estonian swimmer Kregor Zirk was also in impressive form at the Manchester International. He won four titles as Leander returned home with 29 medals.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Diving’s Connor West and Euan McCabe both returned with three medals each from the Southampton International.

Plymouth Studio School students Tate Budge and Rhys Roffe scooped four gold medals and a silver between them at the UK International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Championships in Crawley.

NOVEMBER

thumbnail_img_1858 Victoria WeirPlymouth athlete Victoria Weir enjoyed probably the best month of her career. First, she helped the University of Birmingham athletics team take gold in the junior women’s race at the National Relays in Mansfield, then claimed victory in the senior women’s race at the Midlands Women’s Cross Country League race at Leamington Spa before topping all that by winning the European Cross Country Championship trial race at Liverpool.

The 18-year-old beat pre-race favourite and last year’s European silver medallist Harriet Knowles-Jones by four seconds in the under-20 women’s Cross Challenge event at Sefton Park. Her success guaranteed her selection for the European Championships in Italy.

David King’s fine form during the summer was rewarded with a place on the British Athletics’ World Class Performance Programme for the 2016-17 season. King was one of 29 athletes to be selected for the Olympic Podium Potential Programme.

Meanwhile, city sprinter James Arnott retained his place on the British Athletics Futures Programme. Arnott was one of six para-athletes named in British Athletics’ squad of 32 selected for the 2016/17 programme.

Plymouth University’s Jessica Jackson won two individual medals at the BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships in Sheffield. She took bronze in the 100m and 200m freestyle events. University of St Mark and St John student Ivo Staub took silver in the men’s 50m backstroke.

Also in swimming, Mount Kelly College swimmer Lily Macleod was named on the British Para-Swimming Podium Potential Programme for 2017.

jon-rudd-1 Jon ruddHowever, the big swimming news in November was the announcement that Jon Rudd will leave Plymouth in February to take up the role of national performance director for Ireland.

Rudd has been involved with Plymouth Leander since 1989 and has helped make them one of the top clubs in the country. He is also director of swimming at Plymouth College – a role he has held for 11 years.

Plymouth College modern pentathlete Georgina Mitchell impressed for Great Britain at the Olympic Hopes Tetrathlon in Tata, Hungary. Mitchell returned from the competition, which was made up of swimming, fencing and the combined event, with a silver and a bronze medal.

After two unbeaten months in League Two, Plymouth Argyle’s good run came to an end in November. They only managed one league win during the month, beating Crewe away. However, they did overcome Mansfield Town in the FA Cup first round.

In rugby, Plymouth Albion enjoyed an unbeaten month with victories over Hull Ionians, Moseley, Blaydon and Macclesfield, while Herbie Stupple signed a new long-term contact.

Plymouth-born rugby player Henry Slade earned his third and fourth England caps as a replacement against Fiji and Argentina. They were his first appearances for his country in 2016 after breaking his leg in December 2015.

Devonport Services moved to the top of Western Counties West after an unbeaten November, while Stuart Busfield stepped down from coaching Tamar Saracens.

City of Plymouth Trampoline and Gymnastics Club members Ben Miller, Evangeline Piper and Oscar Piper all claimed medals at the English Trampoline Championships in Coventry, with Oscar Piper winning three national titles.

DECEMBER

Kieran Hallett and Dan ParkesDan Parkes surprisingly left his role as head coach of Plymouth Albion after just five months in charge at Brickfields.

It was also revealed that director of rugby Martin Hall had also left the National One club.

Kieran Hallett was appointed as their new head coach and signed a new contact until 2019.

On the field, Albion suffered narrow defeats to Ampthill and unbeaten league leaders Hartpury, but overcame Blackheath at Brickfields.

Chey Bryce was appointed as Tamar Saracens’ new head coach, while Devonport Services and OPMs both enjoyed a second successive unbeaten month.

Plymouth diver Matthew Dixon was in great form at the World Junior Championships in Kazan.

Dixon, competing in his first season in the boys’ A category, won bronze in the individual platform event behind China’s Lian Junjie and Russia’s Nikita Shleikher.

His cousin, Shanice Lobb, finished 13th in the girls’ A platform event in Russia.

Meanwhile, fellow Plymouth divers Zachery Anderson and Alfie Brown won gold medals at the English Schools’ Championships in London.

img_5071 Helen Barron Pilgrim FlyersPilgrim Flyers youth mountain bike club won the Grassroots Team of the Year at the national Pride of Sport Awards in London.

Their cyclists also impress at the South West Cyclo-Cross Championships which were held at Mount Kelly College.

Victoria Weir enjoyed an impressive international debut for Great Britain. She finished 10th overall in the junior girls’ race at the European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy, and also helped Great Britain win gold in the team event.

Weir’s form also earned her a second international call-up. It was announced in December that she would be part of the GB team at January’s Great Edinburgh International Cross Country event.

Fellow city athlete Emily Bee also enjoyed an encouraging international debut. She set three new personal bests on her way to finishing fourth at the SIAB Combined Events Championships in Athlone, Ireland.

Ben Proud was one of a number of Plymouth Leander medal winners at the ASA Winter Meet in Sheffield.  Proud won the 50m freestyle title. There was also a gold for Leander’s Edoardo Valsecchi in the 50m butterfly and for their women’s relay team.

Plymouth Argyle set up a big money trip to Anfield in January to play Liverpool in the FA Cup third round after beating Newport County away in an FA Cup second round replay. The Pilgrims also overcame promotion-rivals Doncaster Rovers and Accrington Stanley in the league and claimed a 3-3 Boxing Day draw with Wycombe in front of more than 12,000 fans at Home Park.

Former Plymouth Marjon hockey player Giselle Ansley was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list announced at the end of the month.

There were lots of amazing achievements and we were unable to mention them all in this review. However, you can view more stories we have covered over the last 12 months by searching our monthly archive section on the right-hand side of our website. 

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