SPORT has paid tribute after Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died aged 96.
Messages poured in from sporting governing bodies and personalities after her death was announced on Thursday.
A minute’s silence was held at Manchester United, Arsenal, West Ham and Hearts’ European matches.
And in horse racing, the sport closely linked to Her Majesty, she was described as its “greatest supporter.”
Ascot, the racecourse most deeply connected with the Queen, paid tribute to one of the sport’s leading advocates.
The Berkshire venue is famed for its royal meeting and procession from nearby Windsor Castle, with the Queen having enjoyed many high-profile victories at the track – not least when Estimate won the Gold Cup in 2013.
Sir Francis Brooke, Her Majesty’s representative at the track, said: “The nation mourns the loss of a much loved and respected monarch. The world of racing has lost one of its greatest supporters.
“We at Ascot are privileged to have so many memories of Her Majesty, the Queen, at this, her racecourse, including some wonderful victories in the royal colours.”
Nicky Henderson, who trained racehorses for the Queen and Queen Mother, added: “Racing has lost its best friend and greatest patron, the country has lost its Queen – but she was more than a Queen. The country has lost somebody who was its greatest servant. She was absolutely the greatest.
“She knew horses inside out, so it was always a pleasure to be able to talk and discuss horses – and lots of other things as well. Her loss is immeasurable. It is an emotional day and I am very emotional.”
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Estimate, said: “It was an honour and also a great pleasure to train for the Queen because she had such a formidable knowledge of the horse.”
And AP McCoy, 20-time champion jump jockey and knighted in 2016, added: “We will miss your knowledge, passion, sense of humour, charming ease and most of all your irreplaceable presence. RIP Ma’am.”
Manchester United and Real Sociedad players observe a minute’s silence prior to the Europa League group E match.
All Premier League clubs posted individual messages paying their respect to the Queen and the Premier League said it was “deeply saddened” by her death.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family and everyone around the world mourning the loss of Her Majesty,” the league said.
English Football League chair Rick Parry added: “On behalf of the league and its clubs, we join the rest of the nation and people across the world in mourning the passing of our Queen, Elizabeth II.”
West Ham United fans sang ‘God Save The Queen’ at the end of a minute’s silence at London Stadium before their Europa Conference League win against Romanian side FCSB.
Brazil legend Pele said: “I have been a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth II since the first time I saw her in person, in 1968, when she came to Brazil to witness our love for football and experienced the magic of a packed Maracana. Her deeds have marked generations.”
British heavyweight boxers Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua issued brief statements on their respective social media accounts.
Fury posted a picture with the words “Thoughts & prayers with my Queen tonight, may God be with you”, while Joshua wrote simply: “Rest in peace.”
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah led the tributes from athletics, as he wrote: “The Queen was loved all over the world and meant so much to so many.
“Meeting her was one of the greatest honours of my life. We will remember her for her warmth and dedication to the British people throughout her reign.”
Former Olympic and world 100m champion Linford Christie said “Thank you for always showing me kindness”, while current British sprinter Adam Gemili added: “I really didn’t think I’d feel this sad. Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II. Thank you for all you did.”
British women’s long-distance great Paula Radcliffe posted her own tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Instagram
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “The Queen was undoubtedly one of the most respected heads of state ever to have lived, and I send my condolences, and those of the entire FIA community, to the Royal Family and all of the citizens of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
“Motorsport, and especially Formula 1, has its heart in the United Kingdom, and the Royal Family has, over the years, given great support and patronage to the sport.
“For this we thank them, and those events taking place around the world this weekend will undoubtedly be undertaken in honour of Her Majesty.”
British Cycling and a number of prominent teams and riders also paid their respects, with six-time Olympic champion Chris Hoy writing: “I share the sadness and sorrow of all Britons and many others around the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”
Hoy, who was knighted in 2009, added: “I had the pleasure of meeting Her Majesty on a number of occasions and always admired her tremendous dedication and absolute commitment to her role, as well as the generosity and compassion she offered to all those she met.
“Her Majesty the Queen devoted her life to our country, guiding us through so many historically significant moments with great leadership.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was “deeply saddened at the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
ECB chair Richard Thompson said: “I’m sure I speak for everyone in the game when I say how truly sad I am to hear of the Queen’s passing. Her Majesty has been such a great supporter of the game and was always so vocal of her and her late husband’s enjoyment around the sport.
“Her dedication to her country will never be forgotten. For her service and her selflessness over her extraordinary reign, we owe her a debt that can never be repaid.”
Flags were flown at half-mast at Wentworth on day one of the BMW PGA Championship, with play also suspended
Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, who captained the victorious 2018 European Ryder Cup team, said: “Living most of my adult life in England I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. An inspiration to so many all over the world. Rest in peace, Your Majesty.”
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick tweeted his sympathies and fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood added: “Rest in Peace Your Majesty, you will be forever in our hearts.” – BBC