Here are the women who have produced notable performances in 2012. I am including members of successful teams but to take this award the sportswoman will have to have won things as an individual. In this Olympic year I am also looking beyond the achievements at the Games to see who maintained a high level throughout the year. Hence my description of results in other events.
• Jade Jones, taekwondo, 57kg: Britain’s youngest Olympic gold medallist. At the European Championships won a bronze earlier in the year.
• Nicola Adams, boxing, flyweight: Adams makes history with the first women’s Olympic
boxing gold. Won silver at the World championships.
• Charlotte Dujardin, equestrianism, individual dressage: Dujardin wins her second Olympic dressage gold adding to the team title. Second in the world rankings but very close to the leader.Won ten out of twelve competitions on her best horse.
Laura Bechtolsheimer, equestrianism, team dressage gold medallist and bronze medal individually.
Joanne Eccles – the world’s leading woman at horse vaulting. Won the world title.
• Jessica Ennis, athletics, heptathlon Olympic gold and 5th place on the all-time world list with a British record. Finished 2nd in the pentathlon at the world indoor championships.
• Jo Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King, cycling team pursuit gold at the Olympics and world championships with world records.
• Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, rowing, lightweight double sculls Olympic gold.
• Victoria Pendleton, cycling, Olympic gold in the keirin and at the World Track Championships won a record-equalling sixth sprint title. My feeling is that she was slightly fortunate to win the world title after disqualification of other riders and Anna Meares was the year’s best sprinter.
• Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, rowing, double sculls: Grainger’s gold was the one I wanted to see of all our Olympic golds. After three silvers at the previous three Games it was well deserved.
• Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, rowing, pair: Glover and Stanning win Team
GB’s first gold
Leanda Cave – won the world Ironman and “half ironman” triathlon championship for women. The first woman to achieve this. She did suffer a few defeats during the year.
Mhairi Spence – won the world Modern Pentathlon individual and team titles but only 21st at the Olympics.
Savannah Marshall – won gold at the women’s world boxing championships but had a disappointing Olympics.
Athletics – World Indoor Championships Yamile Aldama won the women’s triple jump at the age of 39 but injuries hindered her attempt to win Olympic gold.
Laura Trott won the women’s omnium and was in the winning team in the team pursuit which broke the world record at both the World Championships and Olympic Games. Only lost one omnium event all year.
Skeleton Bob: Shelley Rudman won the overall World Cup for the first time but was only 4th in the world championships. Lizzy Yarnold in her first season in Senior competition won two world cup races and was 3rd at the world championships.
Rugby Union: Michaela Staniford, the England winger, was named the IRB Women’s Player of the Year. Also named the best player of the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup series.
Paralympic Gold Medal Winners. It is so hard to decide which of our Paralympians is the most outstanding in a great year. The difference in the strength in depth between categories and events mean that it takes something exceptional to stand out.
Sarah Storey – in a class of her own at the Paralympics winning four gold medals in cycling to bring her total to eleven at Paralympics (in cycling and swimming) since 1992.
Hannah Cockroft Athletics Women’s 100 m and 200m T34
Natasha Baker Two Equestrian golds
Ellie Simmonds Two golds in Swimming both in world record times. Also won a silver and bronze.
Jessica-Jane Applegate Swimming Women’s 200 m freestyle
Sophie Christiansen Three Equestrian golds
Danielle Brown Archery Women’s individual compound open
Heather Frederiksen Swimming Women’s 100 m backstroke S8
Helena Lucas Sailing 2.4 mR – 1 person keelboat
Josie Pearson Athletics Women’s discus F51/52/53
My choice for the top five are:
The difficulty in choosing the winner here is that all except Storey were beaten at some point in the year. However, I think that the level of opposition in Storey’s case was weaker than for the others. I have to look at the historical context. Storey is the only woman ever to have won four gold medals at one Paralympic Games at cycling.
For that reason my British Sportswoman of the Year for 2012 is Sarah Storey.