Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell – three silvers and a bronze at Paralympic skiiing
Women’s cycling team pursuit -world champions
Team para-dressage – world champions
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (Rowing)- world champions in the Coxless Pair and set world best time.
In rowing the Mens Coxless four, Men’s Eight, LTAmixed 4 para rowing team – world champions.
England women’s rugby team- won the World Cup
England men’s medley relay swimming team – Commonwealth Games winners
England/ Great Britain women’s 4x100m relay team (athletics) – European champions and broke a 34 year old British record
Of these Etherington and Powell, The swimmers and the athletes weren’t the world number ones. However, the athletes are competing against Jamaica and the USA in an era when they are two of the greatest teams in history. The strength of the event is higher that that of any other in this list.
The skiers, paradressage and para rowing teams are all events with limited numbers of competitors and for that reason I am not choosing them in my top three.
Of the rowers the men’s eight were world champions but vulnerable earlier in the season. The Coxless Four and women’s pair were unbeaten but if I had to choose it would be the pair. Helen Glover was reunited with her Olympic champion partner Heather Stanning who had taken a year out in 2013 and they won the world title with a world best time. World bests in rowing always have to be taken with a pinch of salt as so much depends on having favourable conditions. At the world championships the conditions were very favourable as can be seen from the huge number of world bests set so I give a little less weight to the world best performance in my decision. However, with rowing I also factor in longevity over more than one year because there are few competitions each year. Glover has now been unbeaten for three seasons with both Stanning and Polly Swann (in 2013 and the 2014 European Championships). The three of them have been supreme in their event.
The cyclists once again were unbeatable with the rules increasing numbers in a team from three to four helping due to the great strength in depth in British cycling. It wasn’t their greatest season in terms of times and other teams are getting closer.
The women’s rugby team finally won the World Cup and must be given serious consideration as team of the year. However, they didn’t win the Six nations title, admittedly when they were focusing more of their attention on the World Cup. In the World Cup itself they didn’t come up against New Zealand the team who has constantly thwarted them. This was because the Kiwis lost a group match which meant that England and Canada could draw their match and eliminate them. Very conveniently this is exactly what happened and that made England’s path to glory much easier. It was slightly unsatisfactory although you can hardly blame England for this.
I would also have considered the Mercedes formula One team (and probably have given them first place) in this award. However, although the team is largely British based I have to treat them as a German team as they officially are.
My choices as the top three are:
3rd – Great Britain 4 x 100m women’s team
2nd – England women’s rugby team
1st Women’s Coxless Pair – Helen Glover and Heather Stanning
2012 Frankel, jockey Tom Queally and trainer Sir Henry Cecil (Horse Racing)
2013 Great Britain Women’s Cycling Team Pursuit Squad