Student corner: reporting from British Sports Awards #2

Student ELLA JERMAN is studying the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism with News Associates, run in conjunction with press agency Sportsbeat, and she was on reporting duty at the SJA British Sports Awards sponsored by the National Lottery.

England’s netballers believe they will be under less pressure at next year’s home World Cup because of their Commonwealth Games triumph.

The SJA British Sports Awards team of the year beat overwhelming favourites Australia in the final at Gold Coast 2018. 

And three of their stars – Jo Harten, Jade Clarke and Natalie Haythornthwaite – can’t wait for another shot at success on home soil in Liverpool.

Harten said: “It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a year. We won a Commonwealth Games gold in Australia’s backyard, so we’re going into our home World Cup full of confidence knowing we have reached those heights before.”

Clarke added: “We spent so many years trying to get into a final and we could never quite get there, but we finally did it this year. I think we’re actually under less pressure now, because we know we can do it. Winning at the World Cup will be hard work but everything at this level is difficult.”

The players believe that home advantage will help.  Haythornthwaite said: “We actually really felt the home support at the Commonwealth Games. We had a lot of our friends and family out there which was amazing. 

“But I think the level of support is going to be 1000x bigger in Liverpool and that should give us a huge advantage.”

The England netball team, who are coached by Phil Neville’s twin sister Tracey, met up with the Lionesses at St George’s Park for a joint training session earlier this year.

Haythornthwaite admitted: “It was very competitive and a few of us even scored some good penalties! It was a really special day and I think it is something we can do more of. It’s really important that all of our women’s teams push each other along.”

Harten said: “There has never been a better time to be a woman in sport. All our teams are really being recognised in this country now and we want that to continue. We want to win again, but for women’s sport, I think the most important thing is that people can see us playing netball. 

“When you put the sport on the BBC and on the front pages, people immediately want to play it. We want every little girl and boy up and down the country to have the opportunity to access not just netball, but any sport.”

David Hemery has spent the half -century since his 1968 Olympic gold medal triumph teaching about the power of brain in elite sport.

The first president of UK Athletics,  presented with the President’s Award by Pat Collins, used his 400m hurdles achievement as the inspiration to succeed off the track. Re-living the race, Hemery recalled how he did not even realise he had won .

He said: “Fulfilling my goal of winning the gold medal was a dream come true.  Obviously making a team for the Olympics in the first place is a very special thing to achieve.  My intention was to win the race, but I had no idea how fast I would be able to run.

“I was running scared and the only person I had ever raced before was Ron Whitley – one of the co-favourites. I had no idea how far I was ahead. “I glanced to my right, couldn’t see him and figured out I had beaten him, but then as I put my hands on my knees all the others arrived on my left and then I realised I had won. 

“I ended up feeling very confused as I was on the podium with John Sherwood. On paper, we were the slowest runners in the final. But I won by over eight metres and John finished in third and I thought, ‘why us’? 

“I asked myself, ‘why do some people fulfil their potential when under pressure whilst others fall short?”

Hemery, who went on to become vice-chairman of the British Olympic Association, added: “I ended up writing a dissertation about the power of the mind in sport and I have since taught others how to use your brain to achieve your potential.”

Hemery founded the charity 21st Century Legacy, under which they run the Be the Best you can Be! Programme to enable young people to discover their unique potential and empower them to pursue their dreams. 

He is also the author of five books, including How to Help Children find the Champion within themselves. Hemery competed at a time when financial rewards were incomparable to today but has no regrets. 

“My gold-medal winning moment led to my life work,” he added. “All of the psychological side of sport we see now wasn’t developed until the 70s. The athletes have got their nutritionists, psychologists, psychiatrists and physiotherapists and we didn’t have any of that back then. 

“Financially, it would have been very nice to be an athlete nowadays. But I wouldn’t change anything about my career. It has led to me achieving everything I have done since.”

– Ella is a studying for her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism with News Associates. News Associates was named the UK’s number one ranked journalism school for the fourth straight year by the National Council for the Training of Journalists. Their sports course runs in conjunction with press agency Sportsbeat – more details visit: