Winners announced for the 30th Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards in association with Vitality• Elise Christie named 2017 Sportswoman of the Year
• England’s cricket team named Vitality Team of the Year
The winners of The Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards 2017 in association with Vitality have been announced at a star-studded ceremony at the Hilton London Bankside hotel.
The prestigious awards, now in their 30th year, celebrate the outstanding contribution to sport made by elite performers, coaches, administrators, community volunteers and inspirational female figures.
Broadcast live on Sky Sports, the awards were attended by short-track speed skater Elise Christie, ex-England rugby star Maggie Alphonsi, sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, artistic gymnast Becky Downie, Tom Harrison (chief executive of the ECB), Liz Nicholl (chief executive of UK Sport), Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, former England cricket captains Nasser Hussain and Clare Connor, and popular TV broadcasters Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara.
Vitality's #WomenInSport campaign video was shown before the winner of the Vitality Team of the Year award, the England cricket team, was announced. The campaign aims to encourage women to be more active and highlight how accessible and enjoyable team sports are. To find out more and view the video, visit vitality.co.uk/womeninsport
"I thought about quitting a few times and I wanted to change sports. I just cannot believe I turned it all around. Imagine if I had quit, I wouldn't be standing up here, shaking my legs off right now. I was lucky enough to be backed by the Sky scholarship programme and through that I had a mentor in Will Greenwood. Between him and my coach, we made it through that, and he really taught me a lot about not giving up and not cutting corners. Olympic champion? That's the goal and I definitely believe I can. It would mean so much to me, especially after fighting back and I'd love to do it for everyone else who has really supported me as well, and everyone who has helped me get to where I am."
Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said: “Many congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Our ambition is to continue raising the profile of women in sport in the UK, it’s therefore a privilege to have been involved in these awards for the last three years. We believe it’s incredibly important that women have role models from the world of sport. So we hope that through our close association with inspirational female athletes we can encourage women of all ages and abilities to start getting active and make positive lifestyle changes.”
Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director, The Sunday Times said: “We’re delighted to be able to honour the outstanding sportswomen of the UK in our pioneering sportswomen awards. The Sunday Times has been championing female athletes for 30 years, and these awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their achievements."
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, commented: “It has been an outstanding year for women’s sport and we are delighted to share the celebration of that success by bringing SWOTY into millions of homes across the UK and Ireland.
“This year Sky Sports has shown more women’s sport than ever before with viewing increasing across the board. A record 1.1 million viewers tuned into the dramatic Women’s Cricket World Cup Final, which saw England add the Team of the Year Award to their World Cup trophy.
“Our Sky Sports Scholarship programme is nurturing fantastic female athletes with Freya and Samantha earning nominations and former scholar Elise Christie deservedly being named The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.”
The judging panel of the 2017 Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards 2017 in association with Vitality consisted of: Eleanor Oldroyd (SWOTY judging chair & BBC Radio 5 Live presenter), Jill Douglas (TV broadcaster), Alex Butler (Sports Editor, The Sunday Times), Ruth Holdaway (chief executive, Women in Sport), Chantal Scherer (Director of Marketing, Communications and Member Engagement, Sport and Recreation Alliance), Chrissy Fice (Brand Director at Vitality), Michele Hammond (Performance Adviser at UK Sport), Amanda Bennett (Director, FairPlay Enterprises Ltd), Kate Dale (Strategic Lead, Brand and Digital at Sport England) and Natalie Pinkham (Sky Sports F1 presenter).
The 2017 Award Winners
THE 2017 SUNDAY TIMES SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
The ultimate accolade for your favourite Sportswoman of 2017
Winner: Elise Christie
Scottish short-track speed skater and former Sky Scholar Elise Christie became a triple world champion in March.
The 27-year-old won the 1000m, 1500m and overall title at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam.
Christie, who also clinched a bronze in the 3,000m, is the first British woman to win a world title in the sport, and also broke 23 years of Asian dominance in the disciplines.
The Nottingham-based competitor had won eight world championship medals before this year but this was the first time she had stood on the top spot of the podium.
She is now favourite to become an Olympic champion at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, next February.
Second place: Johanna Konta (tennis)
Third place: Bianca Walkden (taekwondo)
Also nominated: Elinor Barker (track cycling), Tammy Beaumont (cricket), Jodie Taylor (football)
Presented by: Maggie Alphonsi (2014 England rugby world cup winner)
VITALITY TEAM OF THE YEAR
Celebrating the achievements of Britain’s successful collective efforts
Winner: England cricket team
The England women’s cricket team won the World Cup for a fourth time.
Mark Robinson’s side completed a thrilling comeback at a near-packed Lord’s to beat India by nine runs in July, ending an eight-year wait for a global trophy.
England set a 50-overs target of 228 with only Natalie Sciver (51) hitting more than half a century. This was the second highest total in a Women's World Cup final.
Visitors India looked set for victory at 191-3, but bowler Anya Shrubsole trapped Punam Raut lbw for 86, sparking a collapse of seven wickets for 28 runs.
Shrubsole took 6-46 – the best figures in a World Cup final – as India were bowled out for 219 with eight balls to spare.
More than 1m people watched the final on Sky Sports.
England are currently playing away in Australia in the 2017-18 Ashes Series.
Also nominated: England rugby union team, GB athletics 100m & 400m relay squads, Wales para-cheerleading team
Presented by: Neville Koopowitz (chief executive, Vitality) and Chrissy Fice, brand director, Vitality)
YOUNG SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
Nominees must have been 21 or younger on January 1, 2017
Winner: Ellie Downie
Ellie Downie became European all-round gymnastics champion in April – the first British woman to win the overall title at a major international competition.
The 18-year-old was in second place going into the final apparatus but beat Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs to the title in the Romanian city of Cluj. She scored 55.765 points, with Kovacs second on 55.432.
Downie qualified for all five individual finals – the first British gymnast to do so.
The Nottingham-born tumbler won silver medals in the vault and floor exercise and a bronze in the uneven bars.
She also earned a ringing endorsement from five-time Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Nadia Comaneci, who said: “Ellie is a very strong athlete and I am very impressed with her physicality. It takes time but she is adapting to the new code of points very well.”
Downie was unable to compete at the artistic gymnastics world championships in Canada in October due to ankle surgery.
Also nominated: Freya Anderson (swimming), Sammi Kinghorn (para-athletics), Millie Knight (para-skiing)
Presented by: Karen Pickering (four-time freestyle swimming world champion)
DISABILITY SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
The outstanding performer in a disability sport
Winner: Hannah Cockroft (athletics)
Hannah Cockroft won three gold medals at the London IPC world athletics championships in July.
The wheelchair racer comfortably retained her three titles won two years previously in Doha – making her the most decorated senior British athlete in IPC world championships history.
The Halifax Hurricane was successful in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m – the same events she won at Paralympic level in Rio the previous summer.
The 25-year-old set world records in the 100m (17.18sec) and 400m (58.29sec). Her performance in the 800m (2:01.77) was a championship record.
Cockroft remains unbeaten at Paralympic, world and European level for six years. In total she has 10 world titles and five Paralympic golds.
Cockroft suffered two cardiac arrests at birth which damaged two different parts of her brain. As a result, she has difficulty with balance and mobility, problems with her fine motor skills, weak hips and deformed feet and legs.
Also nominated: Jeanette Chippington (canoeing), Sophie Hahn (athletics), Emma Wiggs (canoeing)
Presented by: Ellie Simmonds (four-time Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer)
THE HELEN ROLLASON AWARD FOR INSPIRATION
Recognising inspirational endeavour in honour of the late sports presenter Helen Rollason
Winner: Anoushé Husain
Anoushé Husain is a role model for anybody who faces any serious obstacles or barriers in their life.
Anoushé was born missing her right arm below the elbow and has experienced multiple health conditions throughout her life, including beating cancer.
At times, it has been extremely tough – the crippling pain, the inability at the beginning to walk even 100 metres without being short of breath, as well as the lack of body confidence.
Yet she has never let disability nor any health issues deter her from enjoying or embracing a life of sport. To her immense credit, she persevered and used sport as her rehab.
The civil servant was undeterred by those who suggested she couldn’t lead an active life after several pain-staking surgeries.
Anoushé began to swim, play cricket, take up martial arts, and is now one of the country’s leading and most-experienced female rock climbers.
Anoushé was named the 2017 Asian Women of Achievement Award winner for Sport.
As an ambassador for the LimbPower amputees’ charity, Anoushé tries to encourage people that sport can be done by each and everyone, regardless of physical capabilities.
A spokesman for the charity says: “Anoushé is a role model for anybody who faces any serious obstacles or barriers in their life. She is constantly breaking the mould and challenging the beliefs of the society in which she lives and works.”
Anoushé says: “All the barriers I thought existed for this sport actually don’t. Not only that, it has given me the ability to practice a physical activity on my terms, taking into account my health issues. There is something there for everyone. Above all, climbing has taught me how to believe in myself again and that has carried over into my life.”
Presented by: Barney Francis (managing director, Sky Sports) & Tamsin Greenway (head coach, Wasps netball team)
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Recognising a lifetime of sporting success
Winner: Caz Walton OBE
Caz Walton was recognised for her lifetime contribution to Paralympic sport – both on and off the field of play.
Walton has been involved in every Paralympic Games for the past 53 years.
Her first of 10 Paralympics gold medals came at the 1964 Tokyo Paralympics aged just 17.
And her final appearance as a competitor was at Barcelona in 1992 – during which time she won a total of 17 Paralympic medals across the sports of athletics, table tennis, swimming, fencing and basketball.
Away from the field of sport, Walton was a leading figure in the development of the British Paralympic Association in 1989.
Over the years, Walton has acted as the GB fencing team manager, overall team administrator, athlete services officer and a general point of call for any athlete with a query or simply in need of guidance.
The 70-year-old played a key role behind-the-scenes last year in Rio as Britain enjoyed its third most successful Paralympics, winning 147 medals, 64 golds, and finishing second in the medals table behind China.
Her influence and commitment has enabled disability sport in Britain to flourish and succeed.
She was appointed an OBE in 2010 for her services to disability sport.
Presented by: Alex Butler (Sports Editor, The Sunday Times)
For individuals who have actively engaged with different groups of people within their community through sport
Winner: Margaret Palmer (manager, Lyndon Centre netball club)
Margaret Palmer, 71, from Solihull, was named the winner of the prestigious Community Award. This was in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the local community as a manager and coach of Lyndon Centre netball club.
The former head coach of the England under-21s netball squad has been a key member in the West Midlands netball community for more than 40 years, known to even take to the court to play when there are any absentees in local games!
Every Wednesday night, “netball mum” Margaret is present for the club’s training sessions, and at weekends she umpires for all the club’s local matches. It is this dedication and commitment that makes Margaret a commendable winner for the grassroots award.
The winner of the Community Award was decided by a two-week public vote, involving Sunday Times readers, Vitality members and Sky Sports viewers.
Also nominated: Carlton Bolling College girls’ cricket team, Ann Davis (Boccia), Rashida Salloo (rounders)
Presented by: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (11-time gold medal-winning Paralympic athlete)