Champion jump jockey AP McCoy won another photo-finish today, when he was named as the Sportsman of the Year at the 62nd annual British Sports Awards, a star-studded gala lunch staged at The Brewery in London by the Sports Journalists’ Association and sponsored by UK Sport.
McCoy’s award was presented by the SJA President, Sir Michael Parkinson, who also saw Colin Montgomerie receiving the Team of the Year prize on behalf of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning golfers, and athlete Jessica Ennis, SJA Sportswoman of the Year in 2009, retaining that title after winning the European heptathlon title.
Determined by a ballot among the SJA’s 700-plus members, McCoy was a narrow winner over another Northern Irishman, Graeme McDowell, the US Open golf champion and one of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning heroes. Third in the Sportsman of the Year journalists’ ballot was England cricketer Graeme Swann.
Ennis, the world’s finest all-round woman athlete, was an overwhelming choice of SJA members to retain the Sportswoman’s crown, beating Amy Williams, the skeleton bob gold medal-winner at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and world champion gymnast Beth Tweddle.
Europe’s nail-biting Ryder Cup triumph at Celtic Manor in October won them the SJA’s Team of the Year title for the sixth time, ahead of the English men’s cricket team, unbeaten in Test matches in 2010 and Twenty20 world champions, and the medal-laden Great Britain rowing team.
Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie had a busy time at the awards, because as well as collecting the team prize, he was also personally honoured with the SJA’s JLManning award for an outstanding contribution to sport.
With Tickets for Troops being the event’s nominated cause, Montgomerie received his award in a special presentation made by the charity’s patron, Christina Schmid, the widow of Sgt Olaf Schmid GC.
Other awards presented at the SJA lunch included the sponsors’ UK Sport Award for fairplay and inspiration, which went to Beth Tweddle, while teenaged weightlifter Zoe Smith, a Commonwealth Games medallist, received the prize for Outstanding International Newcomer from former England cricket captain Alec Stewart.
Emma Pooley, winner of the individual time trial at cycling’s world championships, received the SJA Committee Award presented by swimmer-turned-ballroom dancer Mark Foster.
The award for outstanding performance of the year went to Dai Greene, winner of the 400 metres hurdles at the year’s three major athletics events, the European Championships, Delhi’s Commonwealth Games, and the IAAF Continental Cup.
The SJA’s Bill McGowran Trophy, recognising the achievements of an athlete with a disability, is believed to be the world’s longest-established disability sport award of its kind, having first been awarded in 1963. In 2010, the award went to a Commonwealth Games gold medallist who beat able-bodied competitors in Delhi, Danielle Brown, a member of England’s victorious archery team.
Swimmer Fran Halsall, the winner of a record five medals, including the 100 metres freestyle gold, at the European Championships in Budapest, received the SJA President’s Trophy from Sir Michael Parkinson.
The 2010 SJA British Sports Awards marked the end of an era, with UK Sport, supporters of the event for almost a decade (longer if you consider the involvement with the formerly named Sports Council) announcing their withdrawal as sponsors, as a result of the Government’s cuts and its new policy on marketing by its agencies.
The SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards dinner, to be staged at the same venue on Monday March 7 next year (for which entry forms will be available shortly), will be the last SJA event to be sponsored by UK Sport.
SJA Chairman Barry Newcombe expressed the Association’s thanks for the sponsorship and regret at its ending. “Sponsors like UK Sport are hard to find in the current economic climate,” Newcombe said.
“We would like to thank Baroness Campbell, Liz Nicholl, Tim Hollingsworth and everyone in the media team at UK Sport who have worked with us over the years for their fantastic support, helping us to celebrate the achievements of British sportsmen and women.
“Everyone at the SJA hopes that, now we are getting so close to realising all the hard work that has gone in to preparing for the London Olympics, we will be seeing our friends at colleagues from UK Sport at future Sports Awards in 2011 and 2012,” Newcombe said.
The results of the members’ votes for Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year were as follows:
Sportsman of the Year
1, AP McCoy (National Hunt racing)
2, Graeme McDowell (Golf)
3, Graeme Swann (Cricket)
4, Mo Farah (Athletics)
5, Tom Daley (Diving)
6, Mark Cavendish (Cycling)
7, Lee Westwood (Golf)
8, David Haye (Boxing)
9, Rory McIlroy (Golf)
10, Andy Murray (Tennis)
Sportswoman of the Year
1, Jessica Ennis (Athletics)
2, Amy Williams (Skeleton bob)
3, Beth Tweddle (Gymnastics)
4, Rebecca Adlington (Swimming)
5, Fran Halsall (Swimming)
6, Emma Pooley (Cycling)
7, Victoria Pendleton (Cycling)
8, Danielle Brown (Archery)
9, Louise Hazel (Athletics)
10, Chrissie Wellington (Triathlon)
Team of the Year
1, Europe Ryder Cup (Golf)
2, England men’s cricket
3, Great Britain rowing
4, Great Britain athletics
5, England rugby union women
6, Great Britain swimming
To read our reports and view pictures from the SJA British Sports Awards, follow these links: