British Sports Hall of Fame 1936: Jackie Brown, Tich Freeman, Fred Perry and Elisha Scott

The inductees to my British Sports Hall of Fame for 1936 are:

Jackie Brown (Boxing) – one of the finest British boxers of the 1930s.  In October 1932 he won the world flyweight title from Young Perez who was retired from a gruelling contest.  Brown retained the title three times in 1933.  Two of those fights were against Valentin Angelmann and in 1934 he fought him again, drawing the fight.  He had held the British and European titles since 1931 but lost all three crowns when losing to Benny Lynch in September 1935.  He lost a rematch with Lynch but continued to fight, without regaining his former glories, until the end of the decade.

Tich Freeman (Cricket)- one of the most prolific wicket takers in the history of English cricket.  Between 1920 and 1934 he took more than 100 wickets in every county season and from 1928, when he took 304 (a record total), onwards he took over 200 each year.  He started this great sequence aged 32 having lost earlier years to the First World War.  He took ten wickets in an innings three times.  He only played twelve times for England, taking 66 wickets, but his 3776 wickets in first-class cricket, second on the all-time list, earn his place in my Hall of Fame.

Fred Perry (Tennis) – arguably the greatest British tennis player ever. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title each year from 1934 to 1936, the US Open three times (in 1933,1934 and 1936) the French Open in 1935 and the Australian Open in 1934.  These eight titles made him the first man to win all of the major singles.  He also won two men’s doubles and four mixed doubles titles in Grand Slams.  In Davis Cup he won nine out of ten singles matches and 45 out of 52 matches overall.  This helped Britian win the Cup every year from 1933 to 1936. He continued to play tennis for some years after turning professional at the end of the 1936 season.

Elisha Scott  (Football) – possibly the greatest goalkeeper of his era in English football.  He played 430 times for Liverpool from 1913 to 1934, helping them to league titles in 1922 and 1923.  He still holds the record for the longest career with the club. He won 31 caps for Northern Ireland at a time when they only played a limited number of international games.  These came over sixteen years with the last coming in 1936 at the age of 42.  Many opponents rated him the best keeper they played against.

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The Sports History Chronicle World Sportsman of the Year 2016: Martin Fourcade

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My shortlist for the world sportsman of 2016 is:

Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa – Athletics) – winner of the Olympic gold at 400m, which he did by breaking the world record which had stood since 1999. He won all eleven of his races at 100m,10m and 400m and produced a 100m PB of 9.98, making him the first man in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100m, 20 seconds for 200m and 44 seconds for 400m. He also won the African title at 200m.

Steph Curry (USA -Basketball) – had a brilliant NBA season with the Golden State Warriors and took the season MVP title with a unanimous vote and lead the league in scoring while shooting above 50–40–90. The Warriors broke the record for the most wins in an NBA season with 73 and Curry broke the record for 3 pts baskets.

Martin Fourcade (France – Biathlon) – became only the second male biathlete to win three golds and one silver in non-team competitions in a single World Championships and won all five world cup titles.

Martins Dukurs (Latvia – Skeleton) – another great season winning 7 out of 8 world cup races and the world championship.

Michael Jung (Germany – Equestrian Eventing) – his 2015/16 season was outstanding. He won the Kentucky and Badminton titles which added to the Burghleigh win in 2015 made him only the second rider ever to do the eventing Grand Slam. He then added the Olympic title.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal – Football) helped Real Madrid to the Champions League title and Portugal to the European Championship. He again won the Ballon D’Or as the outstanding footballer in the world.

Ryan Murphy (USA -Swimming) – won backstroke 100m and 200m gold and set a 100m world record in leading off the USA team which won the medley relay gold.

Adam Peaty (Great Britain – Swimming) – winner of the Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke where he set world records in the semi-final and final.  He took nearly a second off his own previous mark in the course of the Games

Peter Prevc (Slovenia – Ski Jumping) – set an all-time record for the sport of 15 wins in the World Cup season.  This was also a record average points score for the season.  He won the Four Hills event and took the ski flying title.

Ihar Boki (Belarus – Para Swimming) – six gold medals and three world records at the Paralympics.
Long Qingquan (China – Weightlifting) – won the Olympic title and broke the world record which had stood for 16 years by a large 3kg margin.

Kianoush Rostami (Iran – Weightlifting) – He won the gold medal in the 85 kg weight class at the 2016 Summer Olympics by tying an Olympic record with a 217 kg clean and jerk and setting a world record total with 396 kg. Earlier in 2016 in  while competing at the Fajr Cup, in Tehran, Iran he broke the Clean and jerk world record for his weight division, lifting 220 kg. Kianoush also broke the world record for his total, with 395 kg.

To narrow things down my thoughts were:

Curry would have been a major contender and the Warriors would have won team of the year if they hadn’t blown a 3-1 series lead in the NBA final.  As it was Curry couldn’t take his team over the line and this counts against him.  Dukurs matched but didn’t better previous years. Ronaldo had great results with his teams but individually he has had better seasons.

Peaty’s was the more eyecatching performance at the Olympics of the swimmers on my shortlist but I feel he needs to win more events to take my award.  Boki emulated his gold medal tally from last year’s world championships and with three records has to be a contender again.  The weightlifters probably need to have been at the top for longer because of the limited number of competitions they had in 2016.

So my top five are Ihar Boki, Michael Jung, Wayde Van Niekerk, Martin Fourcade and Peter Prevc.

My criteria for this award are usually that the person I choose has made history in the year concerned either by their achievements in the year or where competition is limited over a period of years.

Jung produced one of the greatest seasons of eventing ever seen over 2015/16 but again there were a limited number of competitions for him.  Boki had another great year but also did as well in 2015.  The sportsmen who had the most competitions in either 2015/16 winter seasons or 2016 summer seasons were Van Niekerk, Fourcade and Prevc.  Van Niekerk showed great versatility over three distances and his performance in the 400m in Rio was sensational.  Fourcade produced arguably the greatest season of biathlon ever.  He won ten races in the World Cup, matching his previous best for a season, but unlike that year he had a great world championships as well, taking three of the four individual titles.  Prevc had the greatest world cup in the history of ski jumping but there were no World Championships in which to prove himself.

To choose between these top three I have to ask myself whether Van Niekerk had the best season ever produced at his events and I have to say probably not.  I think that Fourcade doing so well at the world championships and the world cup shifts the balance in his favour over Prevc.  Another factor in his favour is that he has been outstanding for longer and in which he has become the first man to win the World Cup for five consecutive years.  These things just give him the edge for me.  I would like to spread the award more to other countries but for the third time in four years the French have produced an outstanding sportsman and so my choice as World Sportsman of the Year for 2016 is Martin Fourcade.

 

Martin Fourcade

 

Previous Winners

2015 Novak Djokovic (Serbia – Tennis):  Runners-up Ma Long (China – Table Tennis) , Ihar Boki (Belarus – Para Swimming)

2014 Renaud Lavillenie (France – Athletics):  Runners-up Sebastian Brendel (Germany – Canoeing), Giles Scott (England – Sailing)

2013 – Teddy Riner (France-Judo) won a 6th world title and unbeaten since 2010:Runners-Up: Peyton Manning (USA – American Football), Sun Yang (China – Swimming)

2012  – Lionel Messi (Argentina -Football) – 91 goals in the year:  Runners up: David Rudisha (Kenya – Athletics), Ilya Ilyin (Kazakhstan – Weightlifting) , Sun Yang (China – Swimming), Sergei Martynov (Belarus – Shooting)

 

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The Sports History Chronicle World Sports Team of the Year 2016 – The USA Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team

The shortlist of teams is a mixture of successful Olympians and outstanding clubs. As a reminder of my criteria I try to reward success in the calendar year 2016 but in some cases this may overlap with a season that started in 2015. Where there are few competitions for a team they have to be exceptional in those competitions and also have a history of success over the last few years as well.

My shortlist is:

The USA women’s artistic gymnastics team – winners of the Olympic gold by a huge eight point margin. Winners of every championship since 2011.

Ilse Paulis & Maaike Head (Netherlands – Rowing) -winners of the lightweight double sculls gold at the Olympics and won all four races in 2016. Set a world best time.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (New Zealand –  49er Sailing) – my 2015 winners had another great year winning all but one of the seven regattas they entered, and that was a minor one. At the Olympics they won by the largest margin in a sailing regatta since 1968.

Mercedes (Formula One) – another dominant year for the team with wins in 19 out of 21 Grand Prix.

Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina (Russia – Synchronised Swimming) – extended their winning run since 2009 with wins at the Olympics and in the European championships.

Australia women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team – broke their own world record in defeating a strong American team in Rio.

China’s table tennis team – won gold in both men’s and women’s team events in Rio. The men lost only one match and the women none on their way to gold. In the singles events Chinese players won gold in silver in men and women’s events.

USA women’s water polo team – won every match in 2016 and took Olympic gold. They have won every major event since 2014 , losing one match in that time.

Olympique Lyonnais women’s football team – won the treble of tournaments in 2015/16. That was the French League, Cup and European Champions Cup. They were undefeated all season with five draws.

Saracens (England – Rugby union) – winners of English league, championship and European Cup.

My top four are – China table tennis, Mercedes F1 team, Olympique Lyonnais, and the USA women gymnasts.

If the Lyonnais and Mercedes teams had won every match or race I would have given my award to them. The Chinese table tennis team has been dominant for so long it is hard to single out this team. The American gymnasts have now been the outstanding team for six years, the longest period of success by a nation for fifty years. The faces have changed a little over that time but new names come in with Simone Biles, one of the greatest gymnasts in history as their leader. At the Olympics they won the team event by a margin so large that each gymnast could have fallen off on each piece and they would still have won. In the qualification they had the top three gymnasts and would probably have swept the medals in the individual all-round event were it not for the silly rule restricting teams to two gymnasts in the final. For their long-term and recent brilliance my team of the year for 2016 is the USA gymnastics team of Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman.

The USA gymnastics team

 

Previous Winners

2015 Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (New Zealand –  49er Sailing),
Runners-up: Mercedes (Formula One), Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina (Russia – Synchronised Swimming)
2014 Italy’s Women Foil Fencing Team:
Runners Up Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (NZ – Rowing), Jennifer Jones’s Canadian Curling Team
2013 Vakıfbank İstanbul Women’s Volleyball Team (Turkey)
Runners-Up: Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (Australia – Sailing), Bayern Munich (Germany- Football)
2012 Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (New Zealand – Rowing) – unbeaten for four years and set world best by six seconds
Runners-Up: USA Women’s 4x100m relay team (athletics), THW Kiel (Germany -Handball)

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The Sports History Chronicle World Sportswoman of the Year 2016: Katie Ledecky

My shortlist for world sportswoman of the Year is:

Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia – Athletics)- the woman who produced the most extraordinary performance of the Olympics when she smashed the world 10,0000m record.  The record had stood since 1993 and had seemed impregnable but Ayana took  it apart with a devastating sustained pace from early in the race.  Some questioned how she could have run that fast but the friendly conditions and her willingness to attack the race for so long meant that many other in the race  also took chunks off their best times.  She ran a very fast 5000m ealier in the year but in Rio was beaten in the 5000m final.
Ruth Jebet (Kenya -Athletics) – in a year that saw a few world records in women’s athletics one was set by Jebet in the women’s steeplechase. She had a fine season at the event losing just one race.  She won the Olympic title and then broke the record.
Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland – Athletics) – another brilliant season culminating with Olympic gold with three of the five longest throws in history, topped by a monster effort of 82.29m.  That throw added 1.21m to the world record she set last year and was her 11th victory of the season in as many competitions. In her final competition of the year in Warsaw, she broke the world record again.

Danuta Kozak (Hungary – Canoeing) – winner of three golds in Rio at Kayaking over 500m.  She won the K1, K2 and K4 events.

Rachel Atherton (Great Britain – Mountain Bike) – She won every one of her seen races in the World Cup and added the world championship in the sport of downhill mountain biking.  This perfect season is unprecedented in the history of the sport and added to last year gives her a record winning streak of fifteen races in World Cup and championships.
Simone Biles  (USA – Gymnastics) – one of the stars of the Games.  The American who has dominated her sport for the last three years continued to shine in Rio with four golds at her first Olympics.  She helped the brilliant USA team win gold, then on her own took the all-round, vault and floor golds.

Deng Wei (China – Weightlifting) – winner of the Olympic title at 63kg where she broke the world record.  This was her third title in a row at world or Olympic championships.
Katinka Hosszu (Hungary – Swimming) – The Iron Lady won her first Olympic gold medal in Rio at her fourth Games and went on to add two more and a bronze.  She set a world record in the 400m Individual Medley and an Olympic record in the 200 IM.
Katie Ledecky (USA Swimming) – the most dominant female distance swimmer in nearly thirty years continued her winning ways in 2016.  She won the 800m and 400m freestyle events in world record times by huge margins and also stepped down from her specialist distances to win the 200m freestyle against one of the strongest fields in the whole meet.  She won a gold and silver in relays for a total of four golds and one silver, making her the most decorated female athlete in the entire Olympics.
Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia – Figure Skating)  the new star of women’s skating moved up from the junior ranks to win the world senior title.  She won all her competitions in 2016  and set world best scores in the short and free programmes in separate events though not a total world best score.

My top five are Anita Wlodarczyk, Rachel Atherton, Simone Biles, Katinka Hosszu and Katie Ledecky.

Each of the five have had truly exceptional years.  However, Katie Ledecky has managed to not only dominate her favourite events but has managed to extend herself so that she can beat outstanding swimmers in their specialities as well.  For me she has been the outstanding female sportswoman of the last five years in the world.  In 2016 she was magnificent again and so my choice as the world sportswoman of the year, for the second time, is Katie Ledecky.

 

 

Katie Ledecky

Previous Winners

2015  Gwen Jorgensen (USA – Triathlon),  Runners Up: Katie Ledecky (USA – Swimming), Anita Włodarczyk (Poland – Athletics)

2014 Katie Ledecky (USA – Swimming):  Runners up Tatiana Kashirina (Russia – Weightlifting), Sandra Perkovic (Croatia – Athletics)

2013  Kaori Icho (Japan – Wrestling) – won her 8th world title and 154th consecutive fight, an  all-time record:Runners-Up:  Tatyana McFadden (USA – Para athletics), Tora Berger (Norway – Biathlon)

2012 Marianne Vos (Netherlands – Cycling) Olympic and world road race champion, Giro winner and world cyclo-cross champion: Runners-up: Kaori Icho (Japan – Wrestling), Missy Franklin (USA – Swimming), Katie Taylor (Ireland – Boxing), Hannah Kearney (USA – Freestyle Skiing)

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The Sports History Chronicle British Sportsman of the Year 2016: Adam Peaty

Looking at the list of previous winners of this award I realised that all four of them won golds at the Olympics in 2016. Safe to say that the latest winner will have won in Rio.

My list for consideration was:

Carl Frampton (Boxing) – two excellent world title fight wins becoming a two weight champion.  The fights he won were both against very strong opponents and unlike many world championship fights were worthy of the name.  The number of disputed world titles make it hard to put many boxers on my shortlist but Frampton was probably the pick of the British fighters in respect of the difficulty of the fights he took and won.  However, it is still hard to be sure if he is the best in the world at his weight.
Liam Heath (Canoeing) – Olympic gold in the 200m K1 event.  He had a good season elsewhere, taking the European title and one world cup race, with third in another world cup race.  He also won Olympic silver in the K2.
Jason Kenny (Cycling) – three gold medals at the Olympics, in the sprint, Keirin and team sprint.  He also won the world championship in the sprint.  A great season but with a limited number of races.
Chris Froome (Cycling) – produced arguably his most impressive win when taking his third Tour de France with a dominant performance.  He also won the Dauphine, was second in the Vuelta, and was third in the Olympic time trial.
Danny Hart (Mountain Bike) – downhill world championship winner and a good world cup coming second.
Jack Carthy (Mountain Bike Trials) -world cup and world championship winner.  One disappointing event but unbeaten afterwards.

Mo Farah (Athletics) – another brilliant double gold at the Olympics in 5000m and 10000m despite a fall in the final.  He never looks like getting beaten but still hasn’t had to run a really fast time.

Johnny Peacock (Athletics) – 100m gold and a Paralympic records at the Paralympics.  He also won the European 100m title.
Gary Anderson (Darts) – won his second PDC world title but didn’t have any other major wins.
Nick Skelton (Show Jumping) – it was a wonderful story when he won the Olympic title aged 58.  It was a real surprise when he did as he didn’t have any other notable wins in the season.
Max Whitlock (Gymnastics) – Olympic golds in the floor and pommel horse and third in the all-round competition. Won all-round, floor and pommel in the Glasgow world cup.
Jonathan Rea (Superbikes) – another world title and a very consistent season in a sport where British riders filled the top three places in the world championship.  My question about Superbikes is whether the riders are the best racers when compared to Moto GP riders.
Giles Scott (Sailing) – Olympic champion in the Finn class.  He actually lost a regatta for the first time in years in March but won the Olympic title and his other two regattas.
Mark Selby (Snooker) – winner of the World and UK championships, the two most prestigious titles in the sport. He was ranked world number one for the fifth year.  These were fine wins but probably didn’t win quite enough elsewhere.

Ollie Hynd (Swimming) – probably the pick of the GB male Paralympians winning two gold medals in world record times. He also won three golds at the European championships.
Adam Peaty (Swimming) – winner of the Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke where he set world records in the semi-final and final.  He took nearly a second off his own previous mark in the course of the Games.  Another outstanding season and a contender again for this award.
Andy Murray (Tennis) – he finally reached the summit of his sport by reaching number one in the rankings.  He won the Olympic title, Wimbledon and the Tour Final as well as the finals in Australian and French Opens.
Alistair Brownlee (Triathlon) – retained his Olympic title and won two other ITU world series events.  His early season was affected by injury but once fully fit showed that he is the best triathlete in the world.  His season was too much affected to win the World Series title and so he isn’t a contender for my award.

With all this success I could only narrow it down to a top six for my final shortlist:

Jason Kenny, Mo Farah, Max Whitlock, Ollie Hynd, Adam Peaty and Andy Murray.

If I was considering career achievements then Kenny and Farah would be possible winners but even though they were brilliant in 2016 their multiple medal feats have been done before at championships.  Hynd’s records elevate him but Paralympic records are hard to evaluate. Whitlock’s two golds put him close to winning but the best gymnast in the world is still Kohei Uchimura so my final choice came down to Murray and Peaty, who I regard as the best in their entire sports in 2016.  Murray had a great second half to the eyear to overhaul Djokovic as world number one but this was as much to do with the Serb’s level dropping after completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open.  With Nadal and Federer out of the picture with injuries the way was clear for Murray.  He only won one Grand Slam and although  he won the Olympics and Tour Finals I feel he needed another to win my award.

He would still have won it had Peaty not had such a magnificent year.  As the 50m breaststroke isn’t an Olympic event he was free to concentrate fully on the 100m this year.  He did win both events at the European Cha,mpionships then in Rio he produced the finest men’s 100m breaststroke series in Olympic history.   After breaking his own world record in the heat  he did it again in the final to win by over 1.5 seconds, the largest margin ever at the Games in the event, taking a total of 0.79 seconds from the world record during the event.  This is the most any man has taken from the record in one year since 1961.  This amazing performance means that for the second consecutive year Adam Peaty is my British Sportsman of the Year.

Adam Peaty

Previous Winners

2015 Adam Peaty (Swimming),   Runners-up: Giles Scott (Sailing), Aled Davies (Para Athletics)
2014 Giles Scott (Sailing):  Runners-up Rory McIlroy (Golf), Adam Peaty (Swimming)
2013 Mo Farah (Athletics) – winner of the 5000m and 10,000m world titles: Runners-Up: Andy Murray (Tennis), Chris Froome (Cycling)
2012 Bradley Wiggins (Cycling) – winner of the Tour de France and Olympic time trial gold: Runners-up: Ben Ainslie (Sailing),Andy Murray (Tennis), Rory McIlroy (Golf), David Weir (Para Athletics), Mo Farah (Athletics)

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The Sports History Chronicle British Sports Team of the Year 2016 – Saracens Rugby Union Team

Some of the teams I considered were:

Laura Daniels and Jess Sims – world bowls pairs champions.
England Triples bowls team – world champions.  For both these teams I have to consider the performance truly exceptional in order for them to be close to winning.  This means a perfect tournament.  Both came close but both lost one match in their qualifying groups.
Cavendish and Wiggins – world Madison champions.  For all the success of the British cycling team in the Olympics it has to be remembered that at the world championships earlier in the year the only British “team” to win a gold was Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins in the Madison.  The lack of success of other British teams at those championships is why I haven’t any Olympic gold-winning cycling teams on my shortlist.  The Madison wasn’t in the Games so the British pair have to be considered the best in the world in 2016.  This was one race however and they didn’t do enough as a team elsewhere to be nominated.

In para-cycling the team of Louis Rolfe, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Jody Cundy won gold medals at both the world championships and Paralympics in the Team Sprint C1-5 category.  In both competitions they set world records and that puts them in my top three.
GB Women’s Hockey Team – Olympic Champions.  The women were the great team success story of the Olympics taking the gold in a penalty shoot-out against world number one ranked team the Netherlands.  The fact that despite this defeat the Dutch are still well clear at the top of the world rankings tells you that the British success was a surprise.  The British were a little fortunate to win the final and in the other big tournament of the year, the Champions Trophy, on home ground the British were only fifth.  It was a great run in Rio but to win my award you have to be the best over the year.

The rowing teams that did so well in Rio make a good case to be in my top three teams.  Two of them, the Men’s Coxless Fours Rowing Team which won Olympic gold, and the invincible pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning were undefeated in the year to extend their unbeaten record together to 39 races since their last defeat in 2011.  However, the Four missed a world cup race and the pair missed two which means that their domination wasn’t as complete as in some previous years.  The Olympic gold winning eight lost the third world cup race and so can’t be in the top three.

In Paralympic rowing Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whitley won gold in the mixed double sculls and set a world record in the heats.

The England Rugby Union team were Grand Slam winners and unbeaten in 2016 having won every match on a tour of Australia and then all their Autumn internationals.  This has to put them in very serious contention but there is one very large elephant in the room, an All-Black elephant.  The New Zealand All-Blacks are considered to be the best team in the world and one of the best of all-time.  They lost one match to Ireland but avenged that.  However, the disappointment is that they didn’t play England in 2016.  This means that we can’t accurately assess which of these two fine teams is the better.
Staying with the same sport the Saracens rugby union team had a magnificent season in which they were European champions and English league winners.  They came top of the table in the domestic league, losing four matches, although some of these were when players were on international duty.  The team then won the Championship by winning the play-off series for the top teams in the league.  In the European Cup they won all nine matches they played culminating in a clear win in the final to become the first English team for twelve years to win the trophy and the Premiership, and the first since 2001 to do the Treble.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were the 470 class Olympic sailing champions.  They also had two wins in other world cup regattas for a fine season.  However, the world championships were a big disappointment as they only came 15th.
Chris Mears and Jack Laugher won Olympic diving gold in the synchronised springboard event.  They had a good, consistent season coming in the top four or five in most events but it was a bit of a surprise when they won the gold.  Full credit to them for rising to the occasion.

You may be surprised to find no mention Leicester City in my nominations.  Leicester’s league title was a great story but my choices don’t take that into account.  My judgement is made purely in terms of what was achieved and not how much improvement was made.

My top three British teams of 2016 are:

Third – the England rugby team

Second – Louis Rolfe, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Jody Cundy Paralympic cycling Team Sprint.

First – Saracens Rugby Union Team.

Saracens with the European Champions Cup

Previous Winners

2015 Great Britain Davis Cup Tennis Team   Runners-up: Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (Rowing), the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay swimming team

2014 Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (Rowing):  Runners-up England women’s rugby union team, GB women 4×100 relay team (athletics)

2013  Great Britain Women’s Cycling Team Pursuit Squad world champions and world record setters again: Runners-Up: Sprinter Sacre (Horse Racing), GB Men’s Squash Team

2012 Frankel (Horse Racing) – winner of all five races to finish his career unbeaten and achieved the highest rating in history. Runners-Up: Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins (Rowing), Women’s team pursuit cycling, England women’s rugby union team, Paul Foster and Alex Marshall (Bowls)

 

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The Sports History Chronicle British Sportswoman of the Year 2016: Rachel Atherton

My annual selection of the outstanding British and World Sportswoman, Sportsman and Team of the Year begins as usual with my choice for the best British Sportswoman of the previous year.

Britian had another outstanding Olympics and Paralympics which provides the bulk of my selections for the shotlist.

These are the names I considered:

Nicola Adams (Boxing) – Olympic and world champion
Laura Trott/Kenny (Cycling) – Winner of two world titles and two Olympic golds in 2016.
Rachel Atherton (Mountain Bike) – World Cup winner and world champion.
Trina Gulliver (Darts) – winner of a tenth world championship.
Charlotte Dujardin (Dressage) – retained her Olympic title.
Emily Benham (Mountain Bike Orienteering) – World Cup winner and two world titles
Libby Clegg (Athletics) – two Paralympic golds and a world record
Hannah Cockroft (Athletics) – three Paralympic golds and a world record
Kadeena Cox (Cycling/Athletics) – golds at the Paralympics in two different sports and world records in each.
Megan Giglia (Cycling) – Paralympic gold and two world titles setting world records each time.
Bethany Firth (Swimming) – three Paralympic golds and a world record.
Georgina Hermitage (Athletics) – two Paralympic golds and world records.

Sophie Christansen (Dressage) – three Paralympic golds to make a total of eight in her career.

Sarah Storey (Cycling) – three Paralympic golds and a world record.
Jade Jones (Taekwondo) – retained her Olympic title and was world Taekwondo player of the year.

Looking in more detail at their achievements:

Nicola Adams is unbeaten in major competitions for over four years and won both global titles on offer in 2016.  This has to make her a major contender.  My only question is over the strength in depth of women’s boxing.  The three Olympic champions in 2016 also won the world and two of the three also won in 2012.  There is a history of long unbeaten records which suggests that although the standard is improving it is still easier to dominate than in some other sports.

Laura Kenny (nee Trott) had an outstanding year in the main events individually.  At the world championships she won the scratch race and her speciality, the omnium, although her team in the pursuit were beaten.  In the Olympics she won the team event and added the omnium to give her the record for the most golds by any British woman in Olympic history. This puts her in contention for my award but outside the Olympics and worlds she didn’t compete much on the track.

Trina Gulliver won a record tenth world title and the world masters but didn’t do enough elsewhere.

Emily Benham competes in the little known sport of mountain bike orienteering.  Minority sports tend to be les competitive and so riders would have to be perfect to win my award.  Benjham had a great year but missed out on one world title.

Charlotte Dujardin retained her Olympic title with a high score in her last Olympics with her outstanding horse Valegro.  She was just short of her best score.

It is very hard to compare the achievements of all the Paralympic athletes I have listed.  All of them have either broken world records or set landmarks in medal terms.  Perhaps the most eyecatching performance was by Kadeena Cox, who became the first British Paralympian to win golds in two different sports at the same games for 32 years.

Jade Jones has been rather overlooked by some for her fantastic year.  She won every event she entered including the Olympics, the European Championships and the World Grand Prix Final.  She has more ranking points than any other female player in any weight and was named female fighter of the year.  Taekwondo is a competitive sport with athletes from many countries taking part.  This makes Jade’s standing even higher.

Atherton came close to winning the SHC Award last year but this year was even better.  She won every one of her seen races in the World Cup and added the world championship in the sport of downhill mountain biking.  This perfect season is unprecedented in the history of the sport and added to last year gives her a record winning streak of fifteen races in World Cup and championships.  The sport isn’t an Olympic one which means the depth may well be less but to achieve such heights is special.

My top five from the list are: Nicola Adams, Laura Kenny, Kadeena Cox, Jade Jones and Rachel Atherton.

Jade Jones came very close to winning because of her fantastic year but in terms of making history my choice for British Sportswoman of the Year 2016 is Rachel Atherton.

 

 

Rachel Atherton

Previous Winners and Runners-Up

2015 Lizzie Armitstead (Cycling):  Runners-up Rachel Atherton (Mountain Bike), Hannah Cockroft (Para Athletics)

2014 Hannah Cockroft (Para athletics):  Runners-up Lizzy Yarnold (Skeleton), Charlotte Dujardin (Dressage)

2013  Charlotte Dujardin (Dressage) – unbeaten on Valegro, set a world best score and was European Champion Runners-Up:  Hannah Cockroft (Para athletics), Becky James (Cycling)

2012 Sarah Storey (Para Cycling) – four golds at the Paralympics:  Runners-Up: Charlotte Dujardin (Dressage), Jessica Ennis (Athletics), Ellie Simmonds (Para Swimming), Laura Trott (Cycling)

 

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