In the Olympic year of 2012, let’s celebrate the achievements of some of our sporting heroes past and present who lived in or around Leamington Spa…
Neil Adams, born in Rugby in 1958, won a silver medal at Judo in both the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics. He was the first British man to win a world title, and to hold a world title and a European title at the same time. He has won numerous medals in his career and now teaches Judo all over the world. Myton School must be very proud to have had Neil as a former pupil.
Naomi Anne Folkard represented Great Britain at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. Naomi is from Leamington Spa and was born in September 1983. Wikipedia records that she is also a Music Graduate from Birmingham University so has more than one string to her bow!
Benjamin Basil Heatley was born on Christmas Day 1933 in Kenilworth. He broke the world record for the marathon in July 1964 and in October 1964 won a silver medal in the marathon at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Darshan Singh Kullar was born in Sansapur village in the Punjab in 1938. One of 14 Olympic Hockey players who were originally from Sansapur, he came to England in 1966. During the 60’s he played for Leamington Hockey Club Khalsa, and has been inducted into a Hall of Fame in Coventry City.
Bob Matthews, the blind runner who won the 10000 metres title in the 2000 Paralympic Games, had decided to retire in July 2008 but he announced in September 2011, his readiness to take part in the 2012 event. This would be his eighth Olympics. What a competitor!
Nigel Murray, born in May 1964 in Leamington Spa, has an astonishing career in the sport of boccia (pronounced botcha). He’s been seven times national champion and won an individual gold at the 2000 Summer Paralympics, an individual silver at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and a gold medal in the team event. He has won medals at various other venues, is the current world number one and still lives locally.
Mandip SehmiI, who was born in December 1980 in Leamington Spa, suffered a spinal cord injury in the year 2000. But that hasn’t deterred him from getting on in life. He took up wheelchair rugby and went to the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics as part of the Great Britain squad which achieved fourth place. He has two gold medals from competing in the Wheelchair Rugby European Championships in 2005 and 2007.
Willie Stack was ABA middleweight champion in 1964 and went on to represent Great Britain as a middleweight in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He was born in 1936, was a member of Leamington Boys Club and had over 300 fights before retiring in 1976.
Daphne Wilkinson will be remembered by several of our group for her appearance in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games where she broke the World record in the 400 metres freestyle. She also took part in the 4 x 100 metres event. Daphne has been inducted into Coventry’s Hall of Fame.
Colin Jennings, 2012