Time for athletics writers to cast their votes

SIMON TURNBULL, sportswriter with The Independent and Independent on Sunday and pictured right in action during the Beijing Olympics, was recently elected as chairman of the British Athletics Writers’ Association.

Here, he appeals to BAWA members to vote for their athletes of the year and support their awards event

It was in August 1980 that I first came into the orbit of the British Athletics Writers’ Association.

It was a fortnight or so after the Moscow Olympics and Britain’s gold medal winners were on Tyneside for the Gateshead Games. I was there as an 18-year-old microphone-clutching novice for Radio Tyneside, a hospital radio station, and after writing up an interview with Allan Wells, the new Olympic 100 metres champion, I was in print as a contributor to Athletics Monthly and a starry-eyed member of the athletics-writing fraternity.

I recall being as much in awe of the faces I picked out on the press bench at Gateshead that day — Cliff Temple, Mel Watman, John Rodda, Neil Wilson — as I was of the track and field stars I sheepishly approached for “a quick word or two”. I can laugh now at the response I drew from one athlete: “Yes, the first word starts with ‘f’ and the second ends with ‘f’,” he said, without breaking stride. I didn’t think it was very funny at the time.

Thankfully, we don’t have any athletes of that communicative calibre today. Thankfully, we have the blessed Lightning Bolt and a clutch of British athletes who are coming along rather nicely on the road to the great judgement days of 2012.

As a contracting community (we used the press tent at Crystal Palace for our AGM because the phone box down the road was otherwise engaged), we BAWA members can only hope Bolt and the Brits continue to prosper and keep our sports desks from consigning track and field to the same level of coverage as lacrosse.

We have some great British athletes to honour this year at our awards dinner at the Marriott in Grosvenor Square on Saturday November 14.

It would be only fitting to have as many great British athletics writers as possible in attendance to applaud them. Please cast your votes for athletes of the year and please come along on the night if you can.

The BAWA annual awards dinner, November 14, 2009, 7.15pm reception for 7.45pm, in the Westminster Suite, London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP

Tickets: BAWA members and partners: £57.50; additional members’ tickets: £68
Non-members/corporate guests: £95 per person or £90 per person in a corporate group (5 or more)

To book, write to Simon Turnbull, 16 Orchard Dene, Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear NE39 1DW,

Or contact via email.

Or call/text Simon on 07710 576446.

BAWA members should also vote for their male and female athletes of the year. The winners will be announced at the BAWA dinner.

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