Button, Froch, Tweddle and Brawn: vote contenders

An extraordinarily successful weekend for British sport saw four new contenders thrust themselves forward for consideration for the SJA’s British Sports Awards on December 9.

But they all needed to win world titles to put themselves into the reckoning for SJA members’ votes: boxer Carl Froch, gymnast Beth Tweddle and racing driver Jenson Button and his Formula 1 team Brawn.

The Brawn team’s win in the F1 constructors’ championship is one of the greatest of comebacks, with the team on the verge of financial collapse less than a year ago, saved by the hard work and inspiration of team leader Ross Brawn (pictured above with Button).

Button’s victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix was also a comeback of sorts. Having won six of the first seven Grands Prix of the season, Button desperately needed to score points at Inter Lagos to safeguard the world title, yet a poor showing in qualifying saw him start the race towards the back of the grid.

There followed two hours of thrilling driving by the Briton as he swerved his way through the field to place fifth behind race winner Mark Webber, doing enough against his main championship rivals to secure the title.

Third in the race was the 2008 world champion, Lewis Hamilton, the SJA’s 2007 Sportsman of the Year.

On 89 points, Button heads to Abu Dhabi on November 1 with an unassailable lead in the championship.

The 29-year-old Englishman and his Brawn team have now made strong claims for SJA members’ votes in the 61st annual British Sports Awards, being staged at The Brewery in London on December 9. Past motor sport winners have included John Surtees (1959), Jim Clark (1963), Jackie Stewart (1973), James Hunt (1976) and Hamilton.

Froch’s latest victory came in the early hours of Sunday morning in Nottingham, defeating the previously unbeaten Andre Dirrell in his first bout of the innovative Super Six tournament that endeavours to discover the world’s best super-middleweight.

For Froch, 32, it ensured he retained his WBC world title and maintained his unbeaten record from 26 fights, including most recently Jean Pascal (subsequently the world light-heavyweight champion), Jermain Taylor and now Dirrell.

SJA members can cast their votes for the Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year by clicking here.

Boxers, amateur and professional, have always done well at the SJA British Sports Awards, Joe Calzaghe winning in 2006 and finishing runner-up with Ricky Hatton in 2007.

Like Button, Tweddle required an extraordinary comeback on Sunday at the first gymnastics world championships to be staged in London. Earlier in the week, she had fallen during her qualifying routine in her best event, the asymmetric bars, the discipline at which she won the world title in 2006, the first time a British woman has ever won a gymnastics world gold.

But in front of a packed and very supportive crowd at the O2 Arena — a 2012 London Olympics venue — Tweddle produced
an unsurpassable performance in the floor exercises on Sunday afternoon.

It meant that the 24-year-old from Liverpool is now seriously considering trying to extend her career long enough to take part in the London Games, where British gymnasts including Louis Smith and Daniel Keatings, will be among real medal contenders.

Tweddle has been the trailblazer. “When I first started around 2000 it was all about Russia, Romania and China,” she said. “Now there’s the belief in the western countries that we can medal as well.

“A lot of people thought maybe after qualifying I wouldn’t be able to pull myself together after I messed up on bars, so it’s probably a better feeling than how I felt when I won my bars title — and it shows I’m not a one-piece gymnast.”

The SJA’s Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year are selected by the SJA membership – the country’s leading sports writers, editors, broadcasters and photographers, making the accolade much cherished by competitors as being judged by people who really know their sport.

The 2009 choices for the titles comes from the highest achievers and world-beaters. In the team category, Brawn F1 is up against England’s Ashes-winning men’s cricketers and World Cup-winning women’s cricketers, plus world bobsleigh champions Minichiello and Cooke (click here to read about the other leading contenders).

Tweddle joins Britain’s winning women in 2009 that also includes world champion swimmers Keri-Anne Payne and Gemma Spofforth, three-time Ironman triathlon world champ Chrissie Wellington, Tour de France winner Emma Pooley and heptathlon world No1 Jessica Ennis.

And Button is in a race for votes alongside another triathlete, Alistair Brownlee, teenaged diver Tom Daley and triple jumper Phillips Idowu, world champs all, plus Ashes-winning skipper Andrew Strauss.

SJA members can cast their votes online by clicking here.

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Book tickets for the glittering SJA 61st annual British Sports Awards, being staged in London on December 9 – click here for details and booking form