Photo: Erik van Leeuwen [CC BY-SA]

TOP SPORTS START FROM THE ISLE OF WIGHT

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From stars of the stage and screen such as Jeremy Irons, Sheila Hancock and Phil Jupitus to writers such as Maxwell Gray and Polly Toynbee, a large number of well-known names have been born and bred on the Isle of Wight. Many that were not born on the island still chose to call it home for long periods of their lives including Karl Marx, Ken Dodd and Lewis Carroll.

As well as being a hotbed for intellectuals, creatives and performers, the Isle of Wight has also produced a few sporting heroes. But who are the most famous sportspeople to hail from the island?

Top-flight footballer

In the world of football, only one player from the Isle of Wight has ever reached the Premier League. Lee Bradbury, born in Cowes in July 1975, started his professional career at Portsmouth in 1995. In 1997, he became Manchester City’s record signing but unfortunately, the club was relegated at the end of the season. After a spell at Crystal Palace, he returned to Portsmouth and helped guide the club back to the Premier League.

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He finished his career with a four-year spell with AFC Bournemouth where he took over as caretaker manager when Eddie Howe left for Burnley in 2011. He took the South Coast club to the League One play-offs but could not guide them to the promotion. Howe eventually returned to the Cherries and took them all the way to the top flight where they have remained ever since despite being regular candidates for relegation in the Premier League betting. Bradbury went on to coach Havant and Waterlooville for seven years and is now Assistant Head Coach at League Two side Crawley Town.

Olympic medallist

Mastering one sport is hard enough but our next sporting resident mastered seven. Kelly Sotherton was born in Newport and grew up to be a professional athlete competing in the Heptathlon. She won a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and three Olympic bronzes; two in the heptathlon (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and one in the 4×400 m Relay (Beijing). She also won bronze in the World Championships, a silver in the World Indoor Championships and three silvers in the European Indoor championships. She is one of only five women to win multiple Olympic Heptathlon medals.

Adopted sailing star

Although not born on the island, sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur has chosen Cowes has her home. MacArthur is one of the most successful long-distance yachtswomen of all time. On 7 February 2005, she broke the world record for the fastest solo round-the-world sailing trip beating former record holder Francis Joyon of France. Joyon recovered her record three years later. Since retiring from sailing, MacArthur has concentrated on charity work.

The Needle

A final mention should be given to Keegan Brown. The 27-year-old darts professional was born in Durham but relocated to Newport. He has been a regular on the PDC tour over the last six years and won the Youth World Championships in 2014. In 2015, he won his first professional title when he defeated Adrian Lewis 6-3 in the Players Championship.

Image: Sven Mandel [CC BY-SA] via Wikimedia

Currently ranked No. 30 in the world and tipped by Lewis as a future world champion, the man they call “The Needle” still has time to achieve plenty more in the game. We hope to see him bringing more trophies back to the Isle of Wight soon.

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