SJA Sports Awards: Zara’s crowning moment

The SJA Sports Awards on December 13 at The Brewery promise once again to be a highlight of the pre-Christmas gongs season. As well as getting to vote for the Sportsman and Team of the Year, SJA members also get to choose the Sportswoman of the Year, a prize won in 2005 by Paula Radcliffe.

Here is Ian Cole’s prompt list for the leading candidates, which is headed by a number of outstanding champions .

Zara Phillips jumped to the top of the betting to become the SJA’s Sportswoman of the Year when she won the gold medal at the world three-day event championships in Aachen, Germany yesterday.

The 25-year-old grand-daughter of the Queen, riding Toytown, began the final show jumping stage with a slender lead over Germany’s Bettina Hoy. Experts predicted Phillips would need a clear round to take the gold and British hopes dipped when Toytown clipped a pole, which fell, but that was the pair’s only mistake.

Phillips was a popular guest at last year’s Awards lunch at which she was presented with the Pat Besford award for exceptional performance, marking her victory in last year’s European Championships at Blenheim. Older SJA members will, of course, need no reminding that Phillips’s mother, the Princess Royal, was SJA Sportswoman of the Year in 1971, the year she was European champion.

Other candidates for the award – which will be voted for by SJA members – include:

Nicole Cooke (pictured right) – the Welshwoman this year became the first Briton to be ranked world No1 in women’s cycling and winner of the Tour Feminin, the women’s Tour de France

Kelly Sotherton – the Commonwealth heptathlon gold medal-winner in Melbourne in March

Victoria Pendleton – the women’s sprint cycling gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and silver medallist at the world championships

Lisa Dobriskey – the surprise winner of the 1,500m title at the Commonwealth Games

Shelley Rudman (pictured left) – silver medal-winner in the skeleton bob at the Turin Winter Olympics

Beth Tweddle – won European gymnastics gold on asymmetric bars with a record score

Booking forms for the Sports Awards lunch will be available to members shortly, and members will also be invited to vote for the Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year.

Ticket prices for SJA members have been frozen at £65 per member – a saving of £15 on ticket prices for non-members. So make sure you have paid your subs to take full advantage of the savings on offer.

And we also want your suggestions for other candidates for the Sportswoman of the Year Awards – add a Comment in the box below with the name and achievement of your suggested candidate.

And cricketer Monty Panesar? Swimmer Kirsty Balfour? Or sprinter Harry A-A? Click here to see the candidates for the Newcomer of the Year Award.

Click here to read about last year’s SJA Sports Awards.