Ahead of the members vote for the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards, we asked members of the SJA Academy to make their case for contenders to win sportsman, sportswoman and team of the year. OLIVIA CHRISTIE with the case for new gymnastics world champion – she also won a silver and bronze – Jessica Gadirova.
When Jessica Gadirova won gold on the floor at the 2022 World Championships in Liverpool she became only the fifth British world champion in history.
It has been a remarkable year for the 18-year-old who walked away from the World Championships with three medals, one of each colour.
She played a crucial role in Great Britain’s team silver medal and also made British history by winning bronze in the all-round final.
Gadirova’s medals lifted Team GB’s total medal count to six and her performance at the World Championships has helped underline Britain’s arrival at the top of the international gymnastics scene.
The 18-year-old has long been regarded as one of the world’s best floor gymnasts but this year has shown that she’s arguably the best.
Gadirova was hardly an unknown quantity going into 2022, with three European medals and an Olympic bronze to her name in 2021, but this year she stepped it up a notch.
Her performance in the European Championships in August reinforced her potential, as she won gold on the floor, her second European gold in a row, and contributed to Great Britain’s team silver victory.
But going into the World Championships in Liverpool, Gadirova significantly upped the difficulty of her routine, adding in a challenging full-twisting double layout as her second tumbling pass.
She successfully performed the two difficult tumbling passes, her double-twisting double back and the full-twisting double layout, with just a small hop on each landing.
Her final score of 14.2 beat the USA’s Jordan Chiles who finished on 13.833, with Jade Carey and Rebeca Andrade sharing bronze with 13.733.
Despite struggling with an injury, Gadirova entered the final in a strong position having earned two of the top three scores in the competition ahead of the final.
The injury had forced her to withdraw from the vault final earlier in the championships.
Gadirova said: “I have been struggling with a little bit of pain after the all-around final. I just tried to push through and I’m so relieved that it was worth it.
“I’m so proud of myself to keep fighting. I tried to focus on my own individual performance and I didn’t listen to anyone else’s score. I just did it with my heart.”
Jessica and her twin sister Jennifer Gadirova both represented Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics and helped Britain win bronze in the team event.
Gadirova will be looking to build on her success at the World Championships in 2023, but will already be looking ahead to Paris in 2024
Full members can vote here for their full choice.