Palmer picks up SJA Young Photographer Award as Khan, Meulensteen and Paterson are named ‘Ones to Watch’ winners

Impactful image of velodrome crash helps Will Palmer’s portfolio claim top honours; Daily Mail’s Isaan Khan gets Writing ‘Ones to Watch’ gold, with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pien Meulensteen and The Athletic’s Abi Paterson winning ‘On Air’ and ‘Off Air’ awards respectively; Shubi Arun secures inaugural SJA Academy Award…

The five images in Will Palmer’s portfolio entry for the SJA Young Photographer award

Impeccable timing and composure in a heart-stopping moment at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games tipped Will Palmer into the winner’s circle in the Young Photographer category at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards.

Will Palmer

The Yorkshire-based freelance snapper takes the gold medal thanks to an action-packed portfolio that featured athletics joy, wheelchair rugby league celebrations, all-around gymnastics artistry and a pair of track cycling shots – one symmetric, one chaotic.

The latter image, of the freak collision involving Matt Walls at the Lee Valley Velodrome in July, sealed the deal for Palmer.

The judges’ panel said: “Will has shown a great portfolio of style, colour and technical ability.

“The portfolio was exceptionally strong, topped off with being there at the right place and time to take a dramatic picture of the velodrome crash at the Commonwealth Games.”

In the aftermath of that 45-mph incident on the final lap of qualifying for the men’s scratch 15km race, Team England rider Walls was given treatment by medical staff, along with members of the crowd who sustained minor injuries.

Remarkably, Walls avoided any fractures and following a few weeks off due to concussion, he is back on the bike.

Palmer’s portfolio also included the moment Eilish McColgan realised she had landed an epic 10,000m gold for Team Scotland in Birmingham.

Runner-up for Young Photographer was Zac Goodwin (PA Media), with James Chance (Getty Images) taking third place.

The SJA British Sports Journalism Awards 2022 is sponsored by the National Lottery and Canon. The winners and all those shortlisted are invited to attend the awards at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on Monday March 6 as guests of the SJA. The winners will collect their trophies on stage at the event.

To book tickets for the awards dinner, visit the British Sports Journalism Awards website

Ian Wooldridge Trophy won by Khan

In the ‘Ones to Watch – Writing’ category, Isaan Khan of the Daily Mail is the gold-medal winner for 2022, having been the runner-up 12 months ago.

Isaan Khan

Khan also collects the Ian Wooldridge Trophy, first awarded to the SJA’s Young Sports Writer of the Year back in 2008 to memorialise one of the giants of the British sports journalism industry who had passed away the previous year.

Khan’s entry included a special investigation feature which resulted in a security firm being suspended by Wembley Stadium on the eve of the FA Cup final, alongside an exclusive interview with convicted cricket fraudster Allen Stanford from behind bars in Florida, and an article about the aftermath of three devastating tragedies in British boxing.

“Isaan displayed all the skills of a top-class journalist,” said the judges’ panel. “His outstanding undercover investigation to expose scandal at Wembley had a far-reaching impact. He is clearly destined for big things.

“His portfolio carries depth, importance, tenacity and energy. Nothing was easy about any of these pieces. Isaan is an outstanding operator who discovers information and relays it readably.”

In a tie for second place, Molly McElwee (The Telegraph) and Ben Fisher (The Guardian) both secured silver-medal honours. Connor O’Halloran (ESPN) is the bronze-medal recipient.

Award for Meulensteen on the mic

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Pien Meulensteen takes the top prize in the ‘Ones to Watch – On Air’ category.

Pien Meulensteen

A University of Salford Broadcast Journalism graduate, her 2022 began with a BBC Match of the Day debut for an FA Cup tie in January, and continued with spots on the TV and radio commentary rosters for the UEFA Women’s Euros and the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar.

Meulensteen saw off the challenge of freelancer Sanny Rudravajhala who takes second spot, with a tie for third between Betty Glover (BBC Sports News) and Owynn Palmer-Atkin (BBC Radio Leicester).

The judges concurred that the 26-year-old’s work ethic, passion and knowledge of football all shone through in her broadcast output, remarking: “Pien is assured way beyond her years – she’s a real star of the future.”

Meulensteen is also now a regular fixture on Premier League and Women’s Super League commentaries for Sky and PLP.

Praise for Paterson’s production skills

In the ‘Ones to Watch – Off Air’ category, Abi Paterson‘s prowess in audio production for The Athletic saw her walk away with the winner’s trophy.

Abi Paterson

Among the standouts from Paterson’s entry was her work as lead producer on the documentary series ‘Away from Home’ about Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, which is shortlisted in the Audio Documentary category at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards.

She was also out in Doha for the men’s World Cup where she recorded and produced daily episodes of The Athletic‘s flagship Football Podcast alongside other audio packages and interviews.

“Really impressive serious journalism in both ideas and execution,” was the verdict of the panel.

Sky Sports News’ Maryam Chaudhary takes silver, and in another split decision, the bronze medals go to Niamh Carr (BBC Radio 5 Live) and Shemi Adenekan (Sky Sports News).

Arun takes SJA Academy Award

The SJA is delighted to announce Shubi Arun as the inaugural winner of the SJA Academy Award in association with Sky Sports.

Shubi Arun

Shubi stood out in a highly competitive pool of 60 entries for the first year of the award, which recognises those with less than one year of experience in sports journalism, or those who have never worked in the industry full-time.

The jury had a very difficult decision to make after carefully considering so much outstanding work across a range of subjects and storytelling media.

Shubi’s three submissions – all focusing on a different area of sport in India – showcased both his versatility and originality.

The judges were particularly impressed by Shubi’s skill in finding a fresh angle, his strong news judgment and his ability to tell a story with impact, whether in a more news-oriented piece, profile or feature.

More than one remarked that they genuinely learned something new from his work.

The highly commended silver medal winner is freelancer Evie Ashton, who specialises in cricket writing.

Congratulations, Shubi and Evie!

A reminder of the winners at last year’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards ceremony