Class and composure catch the eye as winners of SJA ‘Ones to Watch’ and Academy award are announced

Morgan Harlow takes gold in Young Photographers category; the i paper’s George Simms scoops Ian Wooldridge Trophy for Young Sportswriter of the Year; Miriam Walker-Khan and Maryam Chaudhary secure a broadcasting double for Sky Sports News; SJA Academy Award goes to Laura Howard; winners will be celebrated at SJA British Sports Journalism Awards gala on March 25…

By Jon Holmes

A collage of Morgan Harlow’s winning portfolio in the Young Photographer category

Strong connections with audiences and sharp intuition have been rewarded in the industry’s annual show of appreciation for the next generation of sports media talent.

In announcing the podium places for the four ‘Ones To Watch’ categories and the Academy prize at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, the judging panels praised the shortlisted contenders for their outstanding entries before selecting their ultimate winners.

The SJA British Sports Journalism Awards 2023 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 25 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

Mix of photographic skills wins Harlow high praise

Morgan Harlow

Having been shortlisted in this category twice before, freelancer Morgan Harlow is triumphant on the third occasion with a portfolio that won high praise for its variety and execution.

She also won bronze in the Specialist Portfolio category two years ago, and showed her versatility this year with an array of images that impressed the judges.

There were two taken at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge, of Chinese para-swimmer Weiyi Yuan waiting to race and University of Stirling’s George Smith midway through his 200m IM heat.

Team sports featured too, with an aerial shot from an England vs South Africa netball international alongside a fiercely contested Loughborough vs Edinburgh university hockey clash.

Completing the set was a shot from the All England Open Badminton Championships that perfectly framed the athleticism of Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung.

With a hat-trick of top-three finishes, Zac Goodwin (PA Media) bagged bronze and it was silver this time for Cameron Smith (Getty Images).

In their notes, the judges remarked on “another year of encouraging signs that there is a great future for British sports photography… Narrowing down the shortlist was a pleasant task, with striking images in each of the portfolios.

“A variety of sports feature in all of the shortlisted entries, which was welcomed by the jury. The winning entry was just that – well thought-out pictures, exposed and composed well, and using a variety of techniques.”

See all the images from every shortlisted entrant in our Photography gallery

Simms shines brightest in competitive Written field

The i paper’s George Simms is this year’s recipient of the Ian Wooldridge Trophy, which goes to the winner of the ‘Ones to Watch – Writing’ category.

George Simms

Described by Ally McKay, his sports editor at the i, as “a generational talent”, Simms’ submitted entry was both educational and entertaining.

A January feature explored how ADHD has impacted upon the careers of four footballers, and three months later, Simms interviewed James Haskell, with the former England flanker discussing his ADHD diagnosis for the first time.

His third article was a highly effective colour piece that captured a hallucinatory sense of ‘otherwordliness’ that descended at The Oval on the final evening of the Ashes series.

“The winner showed a breadth of knowledge across his subjects and portrayed the stories in an engaging and lively style,” said the judges.

Mail Sport’s Aadam Patel and the Evening Standard’s Malik Ouzia were runner-up and third-placed respectively in an incredibly strong field that drew nearly 40 entries.

Wealth of admirers for Walker-Khan’s broadcast journalism

In her first year as Diversity and Inclusion reporter at Sky Sports News, Miriam Walker-Khan returned to the ‘Ones to Watch – On Air’ shortlist having previously been a contender in this category three years ago.

Miriam Walker-Khan

This time, she comes away with a gold medal for her “insightful and impactful journalism on a variety of subjects”, said the broadcast panel judges.

Her output included feature documentary ‘Fit for Purpose?’ on the inequalities of women’s sports kit and equipment; the series ‘Represent’, about sports stars’ interlocking identities; and interviews ranging from Great Britain’s first track gold medalist Ann Packer to former England rugby international Heather Fisher.

“The entry demonstrated a presenter who already understands how to let their stories and interviewees shine and who connects audiences to what matters and why,” added the judges.

Second this year was former England cricketer turned BBC Sport podcaster and commentator Alex Hartley, with freelance broadcaster Ellen Ellard – as heard on Sky Sports’ EFL coverage, BBC Radio 5 Live and FA Player – also on the podium.

Chaudhary’s care and creativity deliver top prize

Making the step up from silver to the top spot in the ‘Ones to Watch – Off Air’ category this year is Sky Sports News assistant producer Maryam Chaudhary.

Maryam Chaudhary

Her extensive work on ‘Rugby Concussion: Turning the Tide’ – a special documentary released in October about the reality of former rugby players living with early-onset dementia – shone through in her submission.

“A powerful and diverse range of topics that interests both lovers of sport and keen news audiences, their entry displayed very difficult subject matter, researched, prepared and delivered in a stellar manner,” said the panel of judges.

Chaudhary drafted, edited and executed the documentary’s storyline; organised shoots and created production plans; and crucially, built great trust with the film’s contributors.

There is a second successive bronze for her SSN colleague Shemi Adenekan, while Maddy Morrison makes it a trio of Sky Sports AP medal winners as her return to the shortlist after three years brings her a silver medal.

SJA Academy Award honour for Howard

The SJA is delighted to announce Laura Howard as the winner of this year’s SJA Academy Award in association with talkSPORT.

Laura Howard

It is the second year that the SJA has provided an opportunity for those with less than one year of experience in sports journalism, or those who have never worked in the industry full-time, to be recognised at the industry awards.

Laura is currently studying for a MA in Sports Journalism at St. Mary’s University. Her entry comprised strong storytelling with a view to creating more role models, such as in disability sport and women’s sport.

Kathryn Anastasi, deputy head of talkSPORT and SJA Committee member, said: “We are very excited to welcome Laura, winner of the SJA Academy Award, to talkSPORT for a placement.

“Her entries shone through with a real focus on underrepresented communities in sport and we can’t wait to see her career in sports journalism flourish.”

SJA committee member Rachel Steinberg, also a judge in this category, added: “Laura’s work stood out amongst another very strong pool of applicants in just the second year of this award.

“It was brilliant to see entries across a wide range of media, from more traditional written and broadcast to emerging social media platforms and photography reflecting an evolving industry that, if this group is any indication, has a bright future ahead.”

Highly commended were women’s football writer and reporter Adriana Wehrens; Sportsbeat journalist and digital producer Elise Hamersley; and freelance journalist Vayam Rohit Lahoti.

“It was a delight to see such a high standard from all of the entrants, making it a hard category to judge. Well done to all,” added Anastasi.

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