Here are some of the women I considered for my choice of world sportswoman of the year for 2012 but just missed out on my top five.
Christine Nesbitt (Canada – Speed Skating) set a world record for the 1000 m distance.2012 World Champion for 1000m and 1500m. she won the women’s 1000 and 1,500-metre World Cup title and the Grand World Cup for the season’s best skater.
Simone Niggli-Luder (Switzerland – Orienteering) Won the world cup title at all three distances and won three gold medals at the world championships. also won all three individual titles at the European championships.
Bo Bae Ki (South Korea – Archery) – won the Olympic individual and team golds. Beaten in only one world cup meeting.
Ye Shiwen (China – Swimming) Won two golds at the Olympics (in the 200m and 400m Individual medley, where she set a world record)
Esther Vergeer (Netherlands – Paralympic Tennis) – extended her unbeaten run to 470 matches over the last ten years altough this year she did drop some sets.
Jacqueline Freney (Australia – Paralympic Swimming) winner of 8 golds at the Paralympics, more than any other competitor.
Sarah Storey (GB -cycling) – winner of four gold medals at the Paralympics.
Zulfiya Chinshanlo (Kazakhstan – weightlifting) – won the Olympic title. Set a world record for her weight class.
Allyson Felix – ran the fastest 200m time for 14 years and won three Olympic gold medals (two in relays). Was part of the world record breaking 4x100m relay team.
My shortlist of five is:-
Kaori Icho (Japan – wrestling) won the Olympic title for the third time and extended her unbeaten run to over 150 fights over the last decade.
Marianne Vos (Netherlands – Cycling) Won Cyclo-cross World Championships, the Overall UCI Women’s Road World Cup, the women’s Giro d’Italia, Olympic Games Road race, UCI Road Race World Championships.
Missy Franklin (USA – Swimming) – At the Olympics won gold medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke, where she set a world record. Also in the gold medal winning medley relay team. Swimming World magazine’s female swimmer of the year.
Katie Taylor (Ireland – Boxing) – won her 4th world title and the Olympic title. Won female boxer of the year award from the IABA. Unbeaten all year.
Hannah Kearney (USA – Freestyle Skiing) Won 11 out of 13 Moguls events in the World Cup (one of the best seasons ever) on her way to winning the overall freestyle skiing World Cup.
As always it is hard to compare such different events. However, I think that taking into account the strength of competition in the events a decision can be made. At the moment I think that women’s boxing and wrestling are still developing and several women have built long unbeaten streaks. Having said that, Icho’s record is outstanding and she has to be considered. Kearney had a superb season but there were no championships and I think she would have to be unbeaten to win my award. Franklin took a big margin from the world record and lived up to my prediction from the start of 2012 that she would be the star of the pool at the Olympics.
However, my choice for world sportswoman of the year for 2012 is Marianne Vos. She started the year by winning the cyclocross world title. Then moved onto the roads to completely dominate the season as can be seen from the list of victories. Women’s road cycling is one of the hardest events to win as competitors from so many countries take part. Also, when someone is as good as Vos other teams devise strategies to try and stop her. Even so Marianne Vos managed to win the Olympic and World titles (only the second cyclist to do this). No-one else seemed to have an answer. For her versatility and brilliance Marianne Vos is a worthy winner.