In a sporting year like no other, OLI DICKSON JEFFORD and ANDREW GAMBLE make the case for two contenders for the SJA’s sportsman and sportswoman of the year prize, F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and world champion boxer Terri Harper. Find out who wins on December 10th, with this year’s awards broadcast live across our social channels.
Historic sporting moments have been few and far between in 2020, so for Lewis Hamilton to break one of the most impressive records in Formula One and then equal another is a testament to the dedication he has shown to the sport throughout his life.
Following the first wave of Covid-19, a truncated season of 17 races was arranged and since the season started in Austria in July, Hamilton has dominated.
The 35-year-old won 11 of the 15 races held so far this season, also achieving nine pole positions and six fastest laps.
Victory at the Turkish Grand Prix on 15 November sealed a seventh world title, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record that many believed was untouchable, with Hamilton this year breaking another of the German’s most impressive records.
His win at the Portuguese Grand Prix back in October was his 92nd, seeing him push past Schumacher’s record of 91 wins.
This season not only seals his position as one of Britain’s greatest sportsmen, but perhaps the greatest Formula One driver of all time.
Thank you all for every bit of support you’ve given me, I’m so grateful🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/UFLyZXgfl4
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 17, 2020
Hamilton’s dominance also pushed Mercedes to a seventh straight constructors title, all while leading Formula One into taking a stand and vocally supporting the Black Lives Matter movement despite criticism and resistance from some within the sport.
All his success stems from humble beginnings, with Hamilton’s journey to sporting immortality starting at the Rye House Kart Raceway in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire when he was just eight years old. Hamilton admitted after sealing the title that he has always been ambitious.
He said: “Often we say it’s beyond my wildest dreams, but I think secretly through my whole life I’ve dreamed as far as this.
“I remember watching Michael winning those championships and for drivers to get one or two or three is so hard. To get to seven, to work with so many people and communicate with each other so well, there’s no end to what we can do.”
Further history may beckon in 2021, with Hamilton missing the final races of the season after testing positive for coronavirus.
Whilst 2020 proved to be a battle for many, it appeared to be the perfect environment for Terri ‘Belter’ Harper, as it was a year that saw the Doncaster boxer surge to the top.
Harper has helped raise the profile of women’s boxing immensely, particularly in the UK as she is only the second British female boxer to win a major world title.
Her year began in resounding fashion when she defeated WBC champion Eva Wahlström back in February at Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena.
With her own IBO super-featherweight world title on the line as well as Wahlström’s WBC belt, Harper dropped her opponent in round seven en route to a sensational victory by unanimous decision.
On 7th August, the 24-year-old defended her titles against former Olympian Natasha Jonas at Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp, with the two stealing the show as they put on arguably the fight of the year.
On cloud 9 from last night!! Thank you to everyone who shown me their love and support over the last week ❤️ going to enjoy a nice rest, let the hand heal then get back to work 🥊 we’ve got some belts to collect 😎 pic.twitter.com/n3Z7pQQfww
— Terri “Belter” Harper (@TerriHarper96) November 15, 2020
It was the first time that two British women contested a world title, and in a remarkable battle that saw momentum swing between them, Harper retained her belts following a split draw.
In November, she fought Katharina Thanderz at Wembley Arena, with the previously unbeaten Norwegian desperate to dethrone her.
Harper put on a stunning display, showcasing an impressive combination of footwork and devastating counter strikes to force a stoppage in the ninth round.
This was a particularly impressive victory as promoter Eddie Hearn said she broke her hand in the fourth round. After that fight, Harper was quick to look to the future.
She said: “That has just made my year. The rematch with Natasha Jonas is in my contract and when that is meant to happen it will, but I want to unify the titles and fight the other girls in my division.”
Harper is undefeated in her career with an 11-0-1 record, an impressive resume since quitting work in her local chip shop to become a professional boxer and domestic sporting hero.
Harper’s potential appears to be limitless as she eyes a unification bout – and after the incredible year she has had, who would bet against her?