With Bristol having been named European City of Sport for 2017, we thought we’d do a little (but very physically challenging) celebratory dance and shine a light on just a few of our most exciting sportsfolk
We, along with 15 other European cities, were awarded said title by the bods at The European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation, in recognition of Bristol’s passion for sport on every single level; how the city works together to provide a quality sports provision and great facilities; the success of our local sports clubs and events; and our general levels of physical activity.
The year will mark a celebration of the part sport plays in every aspect of life across Bristol’s diverse communities, with local teams and organisations plus representatives from our own professional sports clubs all having come together to focus on improving participation across the city, delivering events and developing elite sport for local athletes like these talented guys and gals…
Greg Streete – Basketball
Born Bristolian Greg came up through the academy and is now captain of pro-basketball team the Flyers, who play in the British Basketball League and host home games at the SGS Wise Arena. It’s a place that holds special memories for Greg, including making the play-off finals with the Flyers in their first year as a professional club. “Coming through the academy system was really positive and gave me a lot of direction in life, allowing me to continue my education and decide my career while playing basketball,” he says. “Sport has given me so much focus, and amazing, eye-opening experiences like playing in the U18 European Championships in Romania while representing England Basketball – I learnt a lot about the sport, and myself, on that trip.”
This year the Flyers are helping promote Bristol Sport Foundation’s delivery of its Celebration Of Sport week, starting on 21 May. “It will be a chance for the whole sporting community to come together at Ashton Gate, with a number of sporting activities planned,” explains Greg. “I feel Bristol is moving in the right direction through organisations like Bristol Sport bringing business and sport together but there’s always more that can be done. Local businesses investing into local teams is such a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Greg Streete, image © Bristol Sport
Daily inspiration: “The Bristol fans – and my family, especially my two little boys Corey and Tracy, who I always like to take to Air Hop and St George’s Park. Without those ingredients I wouldn’t have had the career I have had.”
Chantelle Miell – Rugby
Bristol Rugby Ladies’ 20-year-old fly-half is something of a try-scoring machine, and recently made her debut in the World Sevens Series in Sydney for England – an incredible experience, up there with playing in Tobago for Swift Sevens. “I was brought up around sport, particularly rugby,” says Chantelle. “My own passion for the game began at the age of seven when I started playing at Winscombe RFC and since then I have taken part in a variety of sports alongside my rugby, including hockey, netball and swimming.” Chantelle, who plays home games with the first team at Cleve Rugby Club, takes inspiration from former American sevens captain Jillion Potter: “I really admire her strength to bounce back after a broken neck and her battle with cancer, to play at the Olympics,” she says.
Chantelle Miell, image © Bristol Sport
2017 goals: “To win the women’s premiership and hopefully secure the Singha Sevens title in the summer. Additionally I will strive to stay involved with the senior England sevens team on the world series.”
Zak Vyner – Football
Nineteen-year-old Bristol City defender Zak made his debut for the first team in the team’s two-nil win over MK Dons in February 2016, and was also nominated for LFE Apprentice of the year. Zak, who’s Bristol born and bred, was scouted by City when he was just eight and by the age of 12, had signed with the club – dreaming of becoming the next Thierry Henry. “When I signed for City I was a striker and I loved watching him play,” says Zak. “He was such a great player and he scored so many goals.”
Zak has proved an excellent ambassador for Bristol City Academy with his commitment to various community programmes off the pitch as well as his attitude and ability on it. “My main focus for 2017 is to perform well enough to get into the first team regularly,” he says. “Playing West Ham United in the EFL cup this season while on loan at Accrington Stanley was a real highlight for me.”
Zak Vyner, image © Bristol Sport
Pre-game ritual: “I have to always put my right sock and boot on before my left, and my left boot has to have three knots in the lace and my right has to have two.”
Kirby Ngan – Badminton
Another homegrown talent, Langford-born women’s singles player Kirby is proud to be part of Bristol Jets, who have just finished a good first season in the AJ Bell National Badminton League. Kirby also won the U19 National Badminton Championships last year, which saw her selected to represent England Seniors at the European Women’s Team Championships in Russia. The 18-year-old plays home games with the Jets at SGS Wise Arena in Filton. “It gives me a real confidence boost knowing Bristol is being recognised for its sporting achievements,” says Kirby, who is currently sponsored by leading badminton brand Yonex.
“Being European City of Sport will definitely help get more people involved in sport – especially badminton, which is a fairly low-profile sport. It enables us to provide more programmes to get people into sport regardless of their age or abilities. Getting more volunteers – especially athletes themselves to promote their own sports to younger up-and-coming athletes – will also help a lot. Bristol Jets do community work to get more younger people inspired, so I think if all the different sports clubs did this too it would be great.”
Kirby Ngan, image © Bristol Sport
So what is it that inspires Kirby herself? “Ratchanok Intanon – a world-class badminton athlete from Thailand who been ranked top five in the world for a number of years, becoming World Junior Champion (U19) at the age of 14 and World Senior Champion at the age of 18 – breaking world records for being the youngest to win these world championships.”
2017 goals: “This is my first year of being a senior badminton player. Going from a junior to senior is a massive jump therefore 2017 is about my development, adapting to the high level of play and a new training environment.”
Ben Mosses – Rugby
Bristol Rugby centre Ben is fighting fit after a period of injury and loving being back at Ashton Gate. “It’s an amazing venue and with an infrastructure putting us on the best platform and providing a great service to fans who can come and watch top flight rugby,” he says. “It’s really exciting for us to be playing in such a special stadium.” While it’s the likes of England’s Owen Farrell inspiring Ben now, it was watching Jonny Wilkinson while he was growing up that left no doubt in Ben’s mind as to what his own path would be, especially with rugby in the family. “My old man used to play in Paris, where he met my mum, and I lived there for four years so I was born into it. The only thing I was ever going to become was a rugby player – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Career highlight so far: “Definitely the championship play-off final last year – having a full house at Ashton Gate and regaining premiership status for a club that had been out of it for seven years.”
Georgia Evans – Football
Bristol City Women first team regular Georgia was also born into a sporty family, and followed in the footsteps of her brother, who played football at a high standard. “My experience of being at Bristol for the last six years has been amazing,” she says. “It has really brought me on – not only as a player, but as a person. The academy system is fantastic and has got me to where I am now. A great club with great ambitions. And the city deserves nothing less than the City of Sport title. The hard work that everyone puts in, in Bristol as a whole, is excellent and will only improve. The Forever scheme is a massive help with bringing the community together and getting people involved in sport, too – going into schools, coaching young people and making them aware of the work we do at Bristol Sport.” The 21–year-old’s finest moment so far is probably, she says, playing in the quarter finals of the Champions League, beating Barcelona at Ashton Gate before going on to play Frankfurt, and recently helping to secure her team’s promotion to WSL1 – which starts on 24 April with their first home game versus Reading at Ashton Gate.
Georgia Evans, image © Bristol Sport
Best sporting experience: “One of my very first camps to Finland with Wales, where I picked up my first International Welsh Cap – that’s up there with the best experiences.”
Dino Zamparelli – Racing
Bristol Sport racing driver Dino was seven years old when he first witnessed Michael Schumacher’s complete and utter determination to win an F1 race on TV, and it was then that he decided that was the life for him. This year sees him returning to the Porsche Carrera Cup of GB and setting his sights on the title – having finished second last year – and working with Bristol Sport on community engagement around entry-level motor sport, with the idea simply to inspire local youth to get up and achieve something. “There has been so much that I’ve learnt from motor sport, that I transfer into every day life now, so I want to be able to give that back and inspire local schools, kids and charities,” says Dino, who’s got plenty to be working on this year. “A lot of what I do is governed by how much sponsorship I have so I’m working especially hard on the commercial aspect,” he says. “We’ve got some really good businesses and individuals onboard.”
Favourite track: “I’ve been to some stunning places and circuits such as Abu Dhabi and Russia but I’d have to say my favourite place and circuit to race at was Budapest. The whole place was amazing, and the event – the F1 weekend where I raced in GP3 – was just so cool. The Hungarians were really nice and I finished second in the race!”
Jack Taylor – Cricket
This is Bristol’s biggest year for cricket to date, with its Brightside Ground hosting two England international matches and eight ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup matches, including the semi-finals on 18 July – before the final at Lords. “Two sell-out crowds are expected for the England vs Ireland match in May and the England vs West Indies match in September,” says right-hand batsman and off-spin bowler Jack Taylor, who grew up in awe of player Shane Warne’s control, game awareness and bowl leg spin. “We also have a fantastic fixture list in the NatWest T20 Blast and I would encourage people who haven’t yet experienced a T20 match to give it a go. Our local derby against Somerset is always the highlight of the summer; and the club also has a volunteer programme called the Cricketeers, for those interested in getting involved on a match day (see gloscricket.co.uk).”
Jack Taylor, image © Martin Bennett
Cricket has always been in the family, with both Jack’s father and grandfather playing minor counties for Oxfordshire. “Bristol feels like my second home,” says Jack, whose fondest memory with the club is of winning the Royal London One-Day Cup against Surrey at Lord’s in 2015, and being named man of the match. “It’s also pretty cool to play alongside my brother Matt – so our parents see it as a second home too!” Jack’s travelled a lot with the sport – to places such as Mumbai and Bangalore; Durban in South Africa; Melbourne and Adelaide. “I hope to go back to India one day,” says Jack, who likes his bats with a light pick-up and a low middle. “It is such a fascinating place and the passion they have for cricket is something I have never seen before.”
Often found: “Playing golf at Kendleshire Golf Club, having a latte at Tradewind Espresso on Whiteladies road and eating the smashed avocado at Mockingbird café. Before a match, I’ll go to Boston Tea Party on Gloucester Road with some of the boys for a late brunch – scrambled eggs, avocado and bacon with a coffee to fuel up for our big T20 matches.”
Bethan Popel – Golf
Having gone from amateur playing to turning professional in January of this year, Bethan, who plays with Long Ashton Golf Club, is looking forward to an exciting rookie year with plenty of travelling to boot. With her golfing grandad to thank for getting her into the sport, Bethan started playing golf aged just eight and hasn’t looked back since, travelling to play in Europe recently, where she was thrilled to represent her country. She can’t wait to do the same this year and, as a sports fan in general, is also proud to be a Bristol City season ticket holder – enjoying trips down to Ashton Gate to watch their games when she’s not on the golf course.
Sporting inspiration: “Probably Tiger Woods as he’s my era of the game. How he used to play in his prime was simply incredible and will never be done again.”