Taylor and Ennis set pace for Sportswoman award

In the second of his previews of the voting for the 2009 SJA Sports Awards, IAN COLE assesses the challengers for the Sportswoman of the Year prize

Jessica Ennis leads the way as SJA members contemplate their choice for 2009 Sportswoman of the Year, to be awarded at the 61st annual SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by UK Sport and Sky Bet, to be presented in London on December 9.

The 23-year-old from Sheffield jumped into the lead in the race to lift our prestigious trophy – following recent winners, including Rebecca Adlington, Zara Phillips and Paula Radcliffe – when she won the heptathlon gold medal at the world championships in Berlin.

Ennis won by a huge margin of 238 points. Her final tally of 6,731, has been bettered by a Briton only once — by Denise Lewis, Olympic champion at Sydney 2000 and three times our Sportswoman of the Year.

Ennis’s chief rival for our award could be Claire Taylor, top batsman in the all-conquering England women’s cricket team.

Book your tickets for the glittering SJA 61st annual British Sports Awards, being staged in London on December 9 – click here for details and a booking form

Taylor has played a key part in the England team’s victories in the World Cup and Twenty20 Cup — she was Player of the Series in both – and is the first woman to be named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year.

Taylor, pictured right, scored 324 runs, top scored 101, at an average of 64.80 in the World Cup.

Victoria Pendleton, our Sportswoman of the Year in 2007, will attract votes again after retaining her sprint title at the world track championships. She also came home with a silver medal and a bronze. Lizzie Armitstead had a gold-silver-bronze haul from the worlds, too.

Gemma Spofforth, pictured left, set a world record in winning the gold medal in the 100 metres backstroke at swimming’s world championships staged in Rome in July, where Kerri-Anne Payne, silver medal-winner at the Beijing Olympics, went one better in the Mediterranean off Ostia to claim the 10km open water swim world title.

Beth Tweddle, so unlucky to miss out in Beijing, won two golds at the European gymnastics championships.

And let’s not forget cyclist Emma Pooley, who won the women’s version of the Tour de France.

It’s an open race, and the choice is yours. However you cast your vote, the important thing is that you do. Voting forms will be sent to all SJA members with the next issue of the SJA Bulletin, or, if you prefer, you will also be able to cast your vote online.

One set of votes per SJA member, and we insist that you nominate your top three candidates, in order, in the Team, Sportsman and Sportswoman categories.

The awards will be presented at our annual SJA Sport Awards lunch, sponsored by UK SPort and Sky Bet, to be staged at the Brewery, in London’s Moorgate, on December 9.

For ticket details contact Sandra Phillips at Start2Finish Events on 0208 916 2237 or e-mail

For Ian Cole’s review of the contenders for the Team award, click here.

SJA members can cast their votes for the Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year by clicking here.

â–¡ UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet is the SJA’s newest partner, the sponsorship being announced in October 2008.

Both partners support 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 and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.

The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949.

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