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You are here: Home Page / Exhibitions-1 / Past Exhibitions / Bedford's Sporting Heroes 2008

Bedford's Sporting Heroes 2008

Boxer winning 1908

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Bedford's Sporting Heroes poster

Bedford's Sporting Heroes

2nd August - 21st December 2008 at Bedford Museum

Whether it's being swift on two wheels, leaping off icy slopes, speeding over or through the water, or running further and faster than everyone else in the world - Bedfordians have done it!


In the Olympic year of 2008, Bedford’s Sporting Heroes celebrated the sporting achievements of the county and its people. The sportsmen and sportswomen of Bedford have represented their countries at national and international level from local matches to Cup Finals, Olympic Games or World Championships. A theme running through this exhibition was how the greats of today in the county have willingly shared their experiences with the champions of tomorrow.



This exhibition featured stories about the stars, what they achieved and what motivated them, together with some of the tools of the trade, medals and memorabilia.


Bedford's Gail Emms began playing badminton at the age of three, when her dad cut down one of his old racquets so it was more her size. Now she's a national champion, with a gold medal from the World Championships and Commonwealth Games and European Championships, and a silver medal from the Athens Olympics. Her treasured Olympic silver medal and badminton racquet were on display in this exhibition.


Matt Skelton also started young in sport at Silver Jubilee and later John Bunyan school, enjoying rugby, cross-country, football and basketball. It was onlyat the age 21 that he went to a local Thai boxing club and there found a perfect outlet for his energies, endurance and quick reflexes. In winning his world titles he was presented with his belt and medal, displayed in the exhibition, by the King of Thailand in 1996. After 2002 he moved into more 'orthodox' boxing and won English, British and Commonwealth titles in quick succession.


How many people know we have a javelin dynasty in the Dalrymple family? Jock Dalrymple represented Britain at the 1924 Olympic Games, with his son Malcolm obliterating the British javelin record in 1948 and also representing his country at the 1948 Olympics. His sons also reached high levels in their chosen sports at football, javelin and athletics.


Brian Brinkley learned to swim when on holiday at Skegness at the age of five and went on to represent Britain at the Olympic Games in 1972 and 1976 when he was team captain, as well as World Championships and European Championships ; and he represented England at the Commonwealth Games.


Further stars featured in the exhibition included runner Paula Radcliffe, cricketer Monty Panesar, rower Tim Foster, cyclist Victoria Pendleton, diver Barbara Heathfield, snowboarder Matt Neilson and many others.


After retiring from competitive sport many of our champions have devoted their time to coaching and helping others to achieve their potential.