Student corner: reporting from British Sports Awards #3

Students DAVID SAUNDERS and NICOLA KENTON are studying the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism with News Associates, run in conjunction with press agency Sportsbeat, and  they were on reporting duty at the SJA British Sports Awards sponsored by the National Lottery.

Lizzy Yarnold, Britain’s most successful winter Olympian,  hopes to inspire a generation of school childen to take up sport.

Team GB’s 2018 Olympic flag bearer  and skeleton gold medallist, who announced her retirement and her pregnancy in recent weeks, is looking forward to her first relaxing Christmas in years but has already set her sights on a new target.

“I know how much sport changed my life and I really want to encourage other people and in particular school children – there is a sport out there for you, you just have to find it,” Yarnold said.

“I think life after sport will be an absolute joy after being an athlete for ten years. Having the expectation of being my best every day and having so much expectation on myself because of being an athlete is tough.”

Yarnold was awarded the SJA Pat Besford Award for outstanding performance of the year following her PyeongChang success. Just weeks after the Games she had surgery on her knee to remove a tumour which had been found six months previously.

“The fact that I’m not training every day, and after my operation which leaves me in a good place now, I get to talk to people about the minor sports and the winter sports, that people don’t necessarily know about,” she added.

“What I’ve enjoyed most, probably, is just getting involved and speaking to more people. I want to go and watch live sport, to turn up and be a part of it. I’ll be watching skeleton as a spectator so while I know that I don’t miss competing at all, I’m just really glad to be out there to experience it and to watch other people competing.”

Yarnold is not just banging the drum for skeleton. She called on fans to come and support women’s teams playing in the many events across the UK – with England’s Commonwealth Games gold medallists going for World Cup netball glory at home.

“There are so many women’s events – World Cups next year and we’ve got events in the UK that, if you’re free, you should come along to, get tickets. If you’re a man and have never been to women’s sport before it’s a wonderful thing in its own right and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”


Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair basketball world champions will not be resting on their laurels as they target qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

It is only four months since the team claimed Britain’s first global title at the world championships in Hamburg but past glory will count for nothing. In order to compete in Japan, Britain must finish in the top four at the European Championships in Poland next August. 

James MacSorley, a member of the historic team, said: “We have no reason to believe we can’t go out there and win the whole thing but the main goal there is to win top four to be able to go on and succeed in Tokyo. 

“We’re all working really hard and trying to get better.  It’s unique now coming off of a world championship victory because there’s going to be a lot of teams looking at us trying to take us down, but that makes it more enjoyable.” 

Britain’s success earned them the Bill McGowran Trophy for achievement in para-sport at the SJA British Sports Awards. Martin Edwards, another member of the team, believes that National Lottery and UK Sport funding made all the difference.

Edwards said: “It’s unbelievable. We’ve always been a podium team and we’ve been fighting and fighting to secure that first place and the gold medal. We never quite achieved it but we’ve always believed and I think that’s the key thing there, we have always believed. 

“We’ve worked hard and last year we centralised. We have an elite performance centre up in Sheffield at the EIS and, with help from funding from UK Sport and the National Lottery, we’ve been able to have that base and it’s really helped us. A lot of the guys were together for the whole year and it paid off big time.

“We’ve got a young team; the average age was early to mid-twenties and a lot of the young guys are now centralised as well.  They’re constantly pushing and it’s fantastic that we’ve got so many people.”

The team is also hoping that their World Championship success can help to grow the sport. 

Edwards said: “At the moment wheelchair basketball has got 17,000 participants but the association is striving for a lot more. We believe that we can get up there to 70,000.

“There are loads of opportunities for participation, have a search on the BWB website, find your local club and come and have a go. Anybody can play and able-bodied people can play in the National League. It’s great for everyone.”


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: