With Olympic champions, snooker stars, Premier league winners, European champions and much more to its name, Leicester is a city which is rightly proud of its sporting success. While the eyes of the world are on Tokyo, on Saturday we head back to Wembley to see Leicester City kick off the new football season as they take on Manchester City in the traditional Community Shield curtain raiser.

The wild celebrations when the football team defied 5000-1 odds to win their first ever Premier League title proved this beyond doubt, but did you know about some of Leicester and Leicestershire’s other sporting successes? Here we look at the big names, medal winners and sporting stalwarts that have made Leicester the go-to place for sports fans of all (tiger) stripes.


Fabulous Foxes 5000-1 success

It has been an incredible ride for Foxes fans. Since the miracle season of 2015/16, when they came from nowhere to win the Premier League, Leicester City have established themselves as one of the best teams in the country. Consistently finishing near the top of the table, playing in Europe, and in July of 2021 they defeated Chelsea to win the FA Cup for the first time in their history, completing the set of domestic trophies.

The women’s team have also matched their male counterparts by gaining promotion to the top tier of women’s football after winning the FA Women’s Championship. The club have just announced plans to expand the King Power to a capacity of 40,000 following a huge investment in a state-of-the-art training facility in the county. With tickets to the ground as hard to find as a Jamie Vardy penalty miss, this expansion will allow many more fans the chance to see their heroes in action and is sure to give the players the boost they need as they step on in their challenge for the top.


Tigers are still roaring

One of the most successful teams in rugby union history with a slew of household names in their star-studded history, the ten-time Premiership champions and two time European Cup winners have dropped down the pecking order in recent times. Last season saw a return to form, with a top 6 league finish and a narrow loss in the final of the European Challenge Cup.

You can catch the Tigers in action at Welford Road, which is the largest dedicated club rugby stadium in the UK, with 25,000 fans regularly packing the stands out and making the city echo to the cry of TIIIIIIIIGEEEEERRRSSS! They established a wheelchair rugby side in 2014, who won promotion in their first season to Division 1 of the BT Super Series and boast two Team GB players.


Slam dunking to success

Formed in 1967, the Riders are one of the oldest professional basketball sides in the UK and a founding member of the British Basketball League (BBL). Formerly based at Loughborough University, since moving to their permanent home at the Morningside Arena, the Leicester Riders have gone from strength to strength, winning five BBL Championships, five BBL Playoffs, three BBL Trophies and two BBL Cups.

After winning back-to-back trebles in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons they became the first UK team to compete in the Basketball Champions League since 2007. With a thriving youth and women’s team and a commitment to grassroots basketball, the Riders will no doubt continue to dominate the sport for years to come.


From Victorian gentlemen to Twenty20

The thwack of leather on willow, sunny afternoons and pitched competition have been a fixture on the Leicestershire sporting calendar since 1894 when Leicestershire County Cricket Club gained first-class status. Some household names have turned out for the Foxes over the years, with the likes of Stuart Broad, David Gower and Matthew Hoggard all stepping onto the Grace Road oval.

In recent years, the county cricket side has had less success than they have been accustomed to, but the advent of Twenty20 cricket has been a boon for the club, winning the short form competition three times.


Olympic success straight out of Loughborough

Loughborough University has a long history of sporting success, and as we reach the half-way point of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Loughborough-linked athletes have won three gold medals, four silvers, and one bronze. These include the likes of swimming superstar Adam Peaty who has won two gold medals, a silver and broken a world record aided by his fellow Loughborough colleagues Luke Greenbank and James Wilby.

Triathlete Alex Yee came away with silver in only his eighth race at this level and went one better in the triathlon mixed relay, winning gold. And student Alice Dearing made history of a different kind, becoming the first black female swimmer to represent Team GB when she took part in the 10k open water swim.

Loughborough’s commitment to sporting excellence sees alumni and current students achieve regular success at the very highest levels of competitive sport, whether competing, managing, coaching or leading the way in the fight against drug cheats with the new UK anti-doping headquarters being established recently at the University.


From gridiron to ironing!

We can’t end this without mentioning some of the other fantastic sporting success stories from Leicester and Leicestershire. Snooker legend Mark Selby, the ‘Jester from Leicester’, wrapped up his fourth World Championship title earlier this year. He’s also the only man to have ever been world champion in both snooker and pool!

Leicester Hockey Club are one of the country’s leading teams. Their ladies team has won the English league six times, the national cup four times and have had a number of players chosen for the national side. Any visit to Leicester for sports fans wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Leicester Racecourse, which holds competitive meets all year round.

If you’re looking for something a little different, then there are a number of Roller Derby teams, one of the largest Korfball clubs in the country and the Leicester Falcons American football team who play in the highest tier of British gridiron.  And if you’re into iron… then the sport of extreme ironing was invented in Leicester.

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