April’s top sporting performances

ActionWomanAward_LogoLaura Winter reviews the latest list of contenders whose outstanding and inspiring performances during April have put them in line to win the title of Action Woman of the Year 2016

Read about previous months’ star performers:  January / February / March

Helen JenkinsHELEN JENKINS
TRIATHLON

For winning the World Triathlon Series on the Gold Coast to earn selection for the Rio Olympic Games. The 32-year-old was competing against Jodie Stimpson for the one remaining spot in the Team GB squad after Non Stanford and Vicky Holland achieved automatic qualification last season.

Not only did the 2011 world champion win in Australia, she also underlined her current form by beating world No 1 Gwen Jorgensen in the process. Jenkins admitted: “I was shocked to win in Australia. The last five weeks of training before the Gold Coast were the best I’ve had in years, but I didn’t expect that.

“I’d love to go to Rio and medal. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world.”

Helen Jenkins on Twitter
Bianca-WalkdenBIANCA WALKDEN
TAEKWONDO

For landing two prestigious international titles, both in Germany, as the reigning world and European champion chases selection for the Rio Olympics. The 24-year-old followed up becoming the first Briton to win a senior gold medal in the President’s Cup in Bonn by winning the German Open in Hamburg two weeks later.

Walkden showed she was in indomitable form in the +73kg class in Bonn, beating Serbia’s Ana Bajic in the final and dropping just three points in four contests, and adding Katherine Rodriquez of the Dominican Republic to her list of scalps in the Hamburg final.

After beating Bajic, Liverpudlian Walkden said: “I felt like I was in control throughout the competition and the final. But it was quite hard to score on the new system. It’s difficult to go high because the sensors have changed.

“But overall I did well. This is all about preparation for the Olympics. Hopefully, I can keep it going and keep a winning streak on until Rio.”

Bianca Walkden on Twitter
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

LIZZIE ARMITSTEAD
ROAD RACE CYCLING

For winning the Tour of Flanders and maintaining her lead in the UCI Women’s World Tour with her third victory of the season. The Otley-born world champion won a sprint finish against Emma Johannson to take the Flanders title, which she described as a “dream come true”.

Armitstead said: “It was a really strange race with just two in the front. We had to commit. I didn’t leave anything for the sprint. Emma is fast and I didn’t underestimate her. It was a poker game in the end. I didn’t have any radio, so I didn’t know what was happening.”

Despite her pedigree, the 27-year-old played the role of super-domestique in the brutally tough Flèche Wallonne to help Boels Dolmans team-mates Evelyn Stevens and Megan Guarnier finish second and third respectively. Her 28th place was enough to keep her hands on the leader’s jersey.

Armitstead also rode the Women’s Tour of Yorkshire, which started in her home town of Otley. “I never expected to compete at home in a UCI women’s race – let alone as world champion,” she said. “It was my first race in the UK in the rainbow jersey.”

Lizzie Armitstead on Twitter

ALYSON DIXON
MARATHON

For finishing as the fastest British woman at the London Marathon and booking a seat on the plane to Rio for the Olympic Games. After failing to meet the qualifying standards to qualify for the London Games in 2012, Dixon made sure this time by finishing eight seconds clear of her nearest rival Sonia Samuels and 13th overall.
Dixon’s time of two hours 31 minutes 52 seconds was just outside the qualifying mark, but she had already achieved that in a previous race, so just had to finish in the top two British runners.

The 37-year-old Sunderland Strollers athlete, who is self-coached, said: “It’s a dream come true and it hasn’t sunk in yet what I have achieved. It’s 20-odd years of hard work and you can’t describe the feeling that you have achieved your goal. It’s unbelievable.

“The last few miles were tough, my legs were cramping up and I’ve a blister on my toe. I was hurting, but I was smiling and I feel incredible. The crowd were amazing; they were so noisy.”

Alyson Dixon on Twitter
CHLOE TUTTON
SWIMMING

For winning the 200 metres breaststroke at the British Olympic Swimming Trials, breaking the British record and earning selection for Rio. The City of Cardiff teenager touched the wall first in two minutes 22.34 seconds, three seconds inside her personal best, beating previous record-holder Molly Renshaw into second place.

Tutton said: “It couldn’t have gone any better at all. I didn’t expect this. I trained really hard and I knew I had the potential to do it, but I guess I lacked self-confidence.”
Her time, though a British record, was still 0.26 of a second outside of the mark required for automatic Rio qualification and her fate rested in the hands of the British swimming selectors. But they decided to back her and now her Olympic preparations can begin. She said: “I was excited and shocked to be picked. I didn’t think many people expected me to have made the team before the British trials. I’m amazed. I’m so proud of myself. It’s my dream to go to the Olympics.”

Chloe Tutton on Twitter

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Winter is a sports journalist, presenter and event host. She worked in sports communications for the International Rowing Federation for two years, before working and training as a journalist in Gloucestershire, covering a variety of sports including rugby, boxing, football, and triathlon. She then turned freelance at the end of 2014 and was part of the team who founded Voxwomen, a women’s cycling show that seeks to give the female elite peloton the coverage they deserve. Laura’s latest articles.

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