The Princess Royal, winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award in 1971, will be the guest of honour when the Sports Journalists’ Association stages its British Sports Awards in London on November 26.
It is the 60th annual staging of the awards, the longest established of their sort in Britain, having begun shortly after London last staged the Olympic Games. Following British sporting successes in 2008, the organisers and sponsors UK Sport are expecting one of the most glittering awards events yet.
The Princess, who competed as a three-day eventer in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and is President of the British Olympic Association, will attend the awards, to be held at The Brewery, in the City of London, at which the SJA and its President, Sir Michael Parkinson, will make their awards to the Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year.
The SJA Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year awards are the most respected in sport because they are chosen from a ballot of the SJA’s membership, which includes many of the country’s top sports writers, broadcasters and photographers.
As well as a modern record number of gold medallists at the Beijing Olympics and Paralympic Games, the year has seen 2006 SJA Sportsman of the Year Joe Calzaghe again retain his world middleweight boxing title, Manchester United win the European Cup, and Ronnie O’Sullivan win the snooker world title for a third time.
Barry Newcombe, chairman of the Sports Journalistsâ€™ Association, said: â€œWe are honoured that the Princess has accepted the invitation to our awards lunch. It underlines her commitment to British Olympic and Paralympic sport, which had such a fantastic Games.”
Front runners for the historic 2008 awards include triple gold medallist cyclist Chris Hoy, three times Olympic champion yachtsman Ben Ainslie, Rebecca Adlington, Britain’s first woman Olympic swimming champion for 48 years, and last yearâ€™s SJA winners, F1 pacesetter Lewis Hamilton and sprint cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
The Princess, who was voted Sportswoman of the Year in1971 after winning the European eventing championship, is among a host of past winners from the previous 60 years invited to the celebration.
*UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with an association that goes back more than a decade, in which the agency supports the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s Annual Sports Awards.