He has been knocking on the door since 2013 and, after making road-race cycling history, Chris Froome was the Sports Journalists’ Association’s clear choice for 2017 Sportsman of the Year.
Queen of the athletics track Hannah Cockroft was named Sportswoman of the Year and the triumphant World Cup women’s England cricketers won Sports Team of the Year at the British Sports Awards sponsored by The National Lottery.
The SJA Awards were first staged in 1949 and are the oldest sports awards in Britain. The winners are chosen through a ballot of the Association’s 750 memberships which includes many of the country’s leading sports writers, photographers and broadcasters.
Around 400 celebrity guests from sport, politics and the media were at the Pavilion at the Tower of London to acknowledge another amazing year of sporting achievement.
Froome finished ahead of heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua and swimmer Adam Peaty to become the fourth cyclist in ten years to win the SJA’s ultimate accolade. He was runner-up in 2015 and third in 2013 but his achievement of winning both the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same summer convinced many of our members to vote for him.
Cockroft won the majority vote in the Sportswoman category, edging out cricketer Tammy Beaumont and tennis player Johanna Konta. She becomes the first para athlete to win one of the three top awards.
She said: “I cannot believe it. I don’t know what to say. Thank you for the nomination and thank you for this award. I like to make history but this is something new.”
The wheelchair sprinter has literally been unbeatable in senior competition. Out of 17 European, world and Paralympic finals, she has won 17 gold medals in the T34 classification. In 2017 she finished first in the 100m, 400m, 800m at the World Para-Athletic Championships in London.
England’s women cricketers saw off the men’s 4x100m relay sprinters and the England men’s Under-20s football World Cup winners to lift the team award.
The cricketers beat India in a thrilling final which captured the public imagination and catapaulted the players into the mainstream media. They have long been recognised by the knowledgeable SJA membership, though – they won the same award in 2009.
England women coach Mark Robinson said: “It’s a great reward for of a lot of hard work but we know we’ve got a lot of hard work in the future.”
The National Lottery is in its sixth year of sponsoring the SJA awards event. The National Lottery plays a unique role in supporting the country’s elite athletes, with 700 Olympic and Paralympic medals having been won since Lottery funding was first awarded to elite athletes in 1997.
The National Lottery has also invested over £5 billion in grassroots sport to date, supporting more than 150 different sports and creating opportunities for everyone to get fit.
They presented their own Spirit of Sport Award to Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, hockey’s most famous couple and stars of the Team GB Rio gold medal-winning team.
The JL Manning Award for services to sport went to Brendan Foster, who retired from the BBC this summer after nearly 40 years of service to athletics as a competitor, broadcaster and founder of the Great North Run.
Bianca Walkden has been unbeatable on the taekwondo mat in 2017, retaining her world title and becoming the first athlete to win all four Grands Prix in a calendar year. That has earned her the SJA’s achievement award.
Ah, the magic of the FA Cup. If anyone in recent years has captured the essence of the world’s oldest knock-out competition it was Lincoln City under Danny and Nicky Cowley last season.
The non-Leaguers reached the quarter-finals, beating Brighton on the way, and then won promotion to the Football League to make it the most successful season since the late and missed Graham Taylor was their manager.
The brothers were the unanimous choice for the SJA committee award. President Pat Collins, meanwhile, presented his award to cricketer Anya Shrubsole for her pivotal role in the World Cup final victory.
Chairman’s Award winner was Howard Wilkinson, the last Englishman to win football’s top-tier title when he was at Leeds. This has been an amazing year for the FA’s age-group teams and Wilkinson played a vital part in the St George’s project which suggests a golden time ahead for the national team.
London’s Olympic Stadium was a hive of activity this summer for the athletics and para-athletics world championships.
The scenes when the men’s 4x100m sprinters took gold were amazing. C J Ujah, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot thoroughly deserve the Pat Besford Award for outstanding performance of the year.
Another sprinter caught the eye in London. The Peter Wilson Trophy for international newcomer went to Reece Prescod, who qualified for the championships ahead of James Dasaolu and then made the 100m final in London.
The Bill McGowran Trophy for achievements in para sport went to wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, French Open singles and Wimbledon doubles winner, and Paralympic and triple world sprint champion Sophie Hahn.
FULL LIST OF 2017 WINNERS
Sportsman of the Year
1. Chris Froome
2. Anthony Joshua
3. Adam Peaty
Sportswoman of the Year
1. Hannah Cockroft
2. Tammy Beaumont
3. Johanna Konta
Sports Team of the Year
1. England women’s cricket
2. Men’s 4x100m relay
3. England men’s U20 football
British and Irish Lions
England U17 football
England men’s rugby
The National Lottery Spirit of Sport Award: Kate Richardson Walsh & Helen Richardson Walsh (Hockey)
SJA President’s Award: Anya Shrubsole (Cricket)
JL Manning Award for services off the field of play: Brendan Foster (Athletics)
SJA Committee Award: Danny Cowley and Nicky Cowley (Football)
SJA World Sport Achievement Award: Bianca Walkden (Taekwondo)
SJA Bill McGowran Trophy for achievement in para sport: Alfie Hewett (Wheelchair Tennis) & Sophie Hahn (Para Athletics)
SJA Peter Wilson Trophy for international newcomer: Reece Prescod (Athletics)
SJA Chairman’s Award: Howard Wilkinson (Football)
SJA Pat Besford Award for outstanding performance of the year: Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Team (Athletics)
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