Bully for South Yorkshire's Olympic goal-den boy

Barry Middleton
Barry Middleton
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South Yorkshire's Barry Middleton took centre stage last night as the GB hockey captain scored twice to help us smash hosts Brazil 9-1.

England’s most capped hockey international, the Pride of Doncaster was instrumental in the victory, hopefully repeated in early hours of tomorrow against Australia.

The 32-year-old midfielder already boasts impressive international record including European gold, Commonwealth Games bronze and World League bronze.

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Jess Ennis-Hill

Jess Ennis-Hill

But, despite appearances at Athens, Beijing and London, Barry is yet to record elusive Olympian podium finish – agonisingly missing out on bronze with fourth-place finish four years ago on home soil.

“For me, the Olympics is about winning things. That isn’t necessarily the Olympic spirit but, for me, this will be my fourth games and I don’t have a medal to show for it," said the British Universities & Colleges Sport stalwart.

"When you’re at the Olympics, it is everything. It’s something you dream about and, when international hockey players talk, the conversation always comes back to the Olympics.”

South Yorkshire's finest helped Three Lions roar after one of Sheffield's star swimmers failed to make waves in women’s 200m freestyle, disappointingly clocking 2:00.51 minutes to take heat eighth place.

Danny Willett

Danny Willett

Eleanor Faulkner City of Sheffield SC freestyler had hoped to improve on 2012 women's 800m 22nd heats place again preventing her progressing to Olympic finals.

The 23-year-old now has her sights set on today's 4x200m relay main discipline to try add to her impressive medals tally.

After underlining her potential at inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, winning 400m freestyle bronze, she was one of just two British swimmers at Youth Olympics.

Ellie made her Commonwealth Games debut for England at Glasgow in 2014, finishing seventh in 400m freestyle, 11th in 200m freestyle and helping 4x200m freestyle relay quartet to bronze.

South Yorkshire will continue to supply more than its fair share of spirit as XXXI Olympiad gets into its stride. Regional hopes going for gold include:

Jessica Ennis-Hill Sheffield heptathlete

Luke Cutts

Luke Cutts

First, and hopefully foremost, South Yorkshire's undisputed track and field queen will bid to retain her heptathlon crown, seeking to become just third athlete in history to win Olympic gold, have a baby and then return to successfully defend their title. Even more exclusively, the 30-year-old can become first British female athlete ever to retain an Olympic title.

Pride of our region, she returned to pinnacle of multi-eventing just a year after giving birth to her son when she won world title in Beijing. Jess has since battled back from Achilles injury to head to Brazil among golden girl hopes. Super Saturday in London saw the home games poster girl shatter British record with a score of 6,955 points to give our athletics - alongside Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford - greatest night in its history.

She skipped Team GB holding camp in Belo Horizonte to instead train for ten days in Europe, accompanied by husband Andy and tot Reggie, before recently flying to Rio. "I don't feel I'm a strong favourite. I'm feeling good and training's going well. I'm feeling positive and hoping I can maintain that and push on," said Jess.

Revisit here her heptathlon highlights and see Friday's Star for when and where to watch Olympic coverage of Steel City's Golden Girl.

Freddie Woodward Sheffield diver

The 20-year-old Olympic debutante competed for England in men’s 3 metre springboard event at 2014 Commonwealth Games to strike bronze with partner Nicholas Robinson-Baker.

After another successful event earlier this year, he said: “I’ve proved to myself now I’m good enough to dive among the best in the world and pressure them. A lot of the people I have beaten, I really look up to and admire. To come out ahead of them was really exciting.”

Today's Tweet "Nice bling! @freddiebevis could win another diamond from @Greenandbenz if he wins a medal in Rio" suggests he could be richly rewarded for success.

Ed Clancy Barnsley cyclist

The double Olympic gold medalist is among 26 cyclists across road, track and BMX disciplines who will compete for their country.

The 31-year-old will be in good company of seven-time Olympic medalist Sir Bradley Wiggins, who comes back to the track after claiming time trial gold at London 2012, and former World Champ and 26-time Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish, who returns to Olympic boards after competing at Beijing 2008.

Danny Willett Sheffield golfer

The 28-year-old Masters champ joins Justin Rose as national representative in a sport whose ranks have been ravaged by Zika virus fears. Winner of his first major at Augusta in April, he said: "It will be a huge honour to represent Team GB at the Olympics. It comes at a busy point in our year so I'm hoping to be playing well going into it. I'm really looking forward to it."

Team GB's chef de mission Mark England confirmed: "In Danny and co we have a team capable of doing great things in Rio."

Luke Cutts Barnsley pole vaulter

Keen to prove his 5.83 metre British record was not a one-off, Luke also has British Indoor Championships win under his belt.

The 28-year-old produced best clearance of 5.70m during winter season but failed solitary attempt at 5.77m at Sheffield English Institute of Sport national championships, leaving him 19th in IAAF world rankings, topped by French Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie on 6.03m.

“I know it’s in me to jump higher, it’s just about getting the right poles,” said Luke. “I’m going to Rio in top form.”

Bryony Page Sheffield trampolinist

Fifth at last year's Trampoline, Tumbling and Double-Mini Trampoline World Championships, the 25-year-old secured one of two Team GB places after making Denmark world finals. The University of Sheffield graduate is European and World team gold medalist who struck silver at International Federation of Gymnastics World Cup.

“I am over the moon. This is a first for GB and I am so proud to be part of this incredible feat," said Bryony, who trains at Hillsborough Leisure Centre, part of Sheffield City Trust that coordinates trampolining sessions there, Ponds Forge International and Concord Sports Centres.

Max Litchfield Sheffield swimmer

The 21-year-old City of Sheffield swimmer has set himself a medal target after qualifying for Rio by winning his first British title, recording a time of 4:12.05 to clinch the men's 400m individual medley at British Swimming Championships in Glasgow - which doubled as GB Olympic trials.

"I have dreamed of this day for years and years," he said afterwards, "I always said, when I was younger, I would make that Olympic team. And that has become a real experience since then" It is a bit weird really but I am really, really happy. I will look to make the final and then kick on and get a medal".

Louise Bloor Rotherham sprinter

The elite runner's career, on and off the track, is on an upward curve approaching 31. Among British Athletics World Class Performance Programme's relay set-up, she juggles that discipline with acting as performance nutritionist for national judo, taekwondo and diving federations.

Hard on heels of Beijing World Championships 4x100m squad inclusion, Louise set 60m PB in Vienna of 7.35 seconds while consistently running times faster than ever before. “The focus is Rio and then see where you’re at and look at the options. People ask me if I have any holidays booked. I’m definitely hoping to get one in after Rio and to just sit on a beach.”

She has been coached for more than a decade by Toni Minichiello, who helped guide Jess Ennis-Hill to two world titles and Olympic gold (revisited here http://www.thestar.co.uk/sport/athletics/retro-floods-of-tears-as-sheffield-s-jessica-ennis-wins-olympic-gold-in-london-2012-1-8043084) under pressure of being events favourite.

Louise Bloor

Louise Bloor