F1 title rounds off great year for Hamilton

The Sports Journalists’ Association today sent its congratulations to its 2007 Sportsman of the Year, Lewis Hamilton, on winning the Formula 1 world championship.

“Lewis made a terrific breakthrough last year to earn the acclaim of our members,” SJA Secretary Steven Downes said, “and we are delighted that our Sportsman of the Year has duly and deservedly become the youngest ever winner of the F1 world title.

“He joins the likes of James Hunt, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart as F1 world champions who have been voted Sportsman of the Year by the country’s sports journalists, and we look forward to welcoming him to our 2008 awards lunch later this month as an honoured guest to see if he manages to retain the title.”

No one has retained the SJA’s Sportsman of the Year title for more than a decade, as the award has gone to a truly stellar list of David Beckham, Lennox Lewis, Jonny Wilkinson, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Pinsent and Joe Calzaghe before Hamilton.

This year’s choice for Sportsman of the Year has been a daunting one for SJA members. As well as Hamilton’s success, they have to select from among Olympic gold medal-winners Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Ben Ainslie, world champion boxer Calzaghe ahead of what may be the final fight of his career against Roy Jones, and footballer Ryan Giggs, after his Manchester United side won the European Cup.

Voting for the 2008 SJA British Sports Awards – sponsored by UK Sport and Sky Bet – ended on Friday, before yesterday’s nail-biting conclusion to the F1 season in Brazil.

Three-time Sportswoman of the Year Paula Radcliffe’s victory in Sunday’s New York Marathon also came after the closing of the vote, in which Olympic champions such as Victoria Pendleton – the 2007 SJA Sportswoman of the Year; swimmer Rebecca Adlington and Christine Ohuruogu (recently elected the athletics writers’ athlete of the year) are among the favourites.

Perhaps reflecting the enthusiasm for such a successful year of British sport, voting by SJA members has reached record levels in 2008, with half of ballots cast being completed online.

Photograph by Steve Rowe shows Lewis Hamilton (right), the 2007 SJA Sportsman of the Year, alongside 2006 winner Joe Calzaghe and Victoria Pendleton, the Sportswoman of the Year

*UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet is the SJA’s newest partner, the sponsorship being announced last month.

Both partners support the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s Annual Sports Awards and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.

The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949. The 60th SJA Sports Awards will be staged on November 26 in London.

Book your ticket for the 2008 SJA British Sports Awards – click here for the form, including the members’ price discount