RAF News

RAF Sporting success during 2021

Personnel pull a rope.
Squadrons battle during a Tug of War competition in the 2021 Rock Olympics, at RAF Honington.

2021 has seen a huge amount of success for RAF in sports, despite it being a difficult year with many sporting events being cancelled and limited ability to train or meet competitors.

Like the rest of the world, sports are having to adapt.  Freedom Day saw restrictions ease in July 2021, allowing people to return to their passions, train with their teams, and go back to gyms.  The RAF reintroduced activity to serving personnel through the ‘Return to Fitness Programme’ series of videos and reopened opportunities for its workforce to participate in sports.  Whether as a hobby, for fitness, or as an elite athlete, sports help many to cope with the pressures and uncertainty of life, strengthen the mind and body, and builds a sense of morale and achievement.

"The mindset of our people with how important sport is to them and the Service has grown.  In some cases, people have been surprised how important sport is to them from simply going for a run to getting involved fully with their sport.  The value of it to the Service is being recognised more fully, not only for its developmental value but to health and wellbeing too."

Air Commodore Rich Fogden
Director of RAF Sport

In a year which saw sports expert Callum Whitton appointed as the new Deputy Director of Sport, we look back over other RAF sporting success during 2021.

Callum outside.
Callum Whitton, new Deputy Director of Sport.

RAF Honington kicked off the year with a win against RAF Coningsby, in the RAF Football Cup at Oxford City's Vitality Stadium.

Football team celebrate win by jumping.
RAF Honington win the RAF Football Cup.

Virtual motor sports, e-cycling, and video gaming events grew in popularity as they allowed for social-distancing.  The RAF eSports Association allows personnel to game across all major platforms and saw the Call of Duty Reapers team shoot to runner-up in the Call of Duty Endowment Bowl early in the year.

Personnel sit at computers gaming and wearing headphones.

A summer of success saw Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford reach the Tokyo Olympics games with the Great Britain Hockey team, until India took the gold medal during the knock-out stages of the games.  While at the Paralympic games, former RAF Regiment Gunner, Corporal Stu Robinson, won gold in the Wheelchair Rugby.

Wheelchair rugby match.
Stu Robinson at the Summer Tokyo Paralympic 2021 games.

RAF Supplier Senior Aircraftman Luke Pollard also saw success in the Triathlon Paralympics, as a Visually Impaired guide with David Ellis.  The pair qualified and swam through the race, until a broken bike chain prevented them from finishing.  

Luke and David cross the finish line.
Senior Aircraftman Luke Pollard during a Triathlon.

In September, the Services Sea Anglers achieved their 14th consecutive crown during the Inter-Service games in Lymington, New Forest, before going on to be crowned RAF Team of the Year at the prestigious Sports Awards 2021.  While Corporal Phil Hall raced to runner-up in the Junior World Rally championships, as co-driver to British wheelman Jon Armstrong.

Rally drivers stand on podium waving.
 Corporal Phil Hall and British wheelman Jon Armstrong at the Junior World Rally championships.

The Men’s RAF Golf team swung their way to win the Inter-Services, and again at the Piskey Tournament, in Newquay.  

While the RAF Rowing team sailed through the Joint Services Regatta at Peterborough City Rowing Club; and the RAF Wakeboarders splashed on to claim the Inter-Service title, in Tattershall, Lincoln.

Rowers on a river.

An annual highlight in the sporting calendar returned after missing a year, with the RAF Sports Awards 2021, in November.  The event celebrated the success and dedication of RAF sports teams, officials, coaches and administrators.  World Champion, Flight Lieutenant Jon Maflin achieved Sportsman of the Year for Martial Arts, while budding Paralympian, Senior Aircraftwoman Shona Brownlee took Sportswoman of the Year. 

Jon wrestles an opponent.
Flight Lieutenant Jon Maflin.

"It was a great day, and it was fabulous to see such amazing results of our people doing what they do best and all the while doing what they do in delivering Service demands.  I wish we could do it every day to get that excitement around sport."

Air Commodore Rich Fogden
Director of RAF Sport

Shona wear skiing gear and hold trophy.
Senior Aircraftwoman Shona Brownlee.

Closing the year, Flight Sergeant Frankie Tinsley created and completed the first ever Talisman Triathlon, to raise the profile of suicide after losing two colleagues.  In just 14 days, he cycled from Lands’ end to John O’Groats, swam the longest lakes and lochs, and ran across the highest peaks in Wales, England, and Scotland.

Frankie wears wetsuit.
Flight Sergeant Frankie Tinsley.

"Overall, compared to last year, I’d say the situation is great and compared to where we’d like to be?  Well, we are thankfully not that far off."

Air Commodore Rich Fogden
Director of RAF Sport

The RAF congratulate all our sports people and look forward to another year of success!

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