For the inside track on Britain’s female athletes leading into Rio 2016, Jessica Whittington of Athletics Weekly offers The Mixed Zone her expert analysis of the results from the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
When it comes to the popularity, athletes Jessica Ennis-Hill, Hannah Cockroft and Jo Pavey have again captured the hearts of the nation in 2015. The trio prove that with a supportive team around you it is possible to balance an elite sporting career with other commitments, and that with a lot of hard work and determination global success can be achieved. The fact that they also make time for their fans, and give back to the sport, contributes towards their enduring popularity.
From Jessica Ennis-Hill’s winning return on the global stage and Morgan Lake’s age-group achievements to Hannah Cockroft’s world triple and Dina Asher-Smith’s record-breaking feats – these moments helped to decide the winners of this year’s Athletics Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards.
Rather than simply highlighting the athletes the AW team considered to be the most impressive this year, they wanted the readers to have their say. The votes from the online poll were revealed in a recent edition of the magazine. Here we take a look at the achievements of some of the winners.
Jessica Ennis-Hill won in this category in 2012 after her Olympic triumph in 2012, and having claimed her second world heptathlon title just 13 months after the birth of her first child, following an injury-interrupted build-up, she was clear favourite again.
Speaking in Beijing after regaining the title she first won in 2009, Ennis-Hill explained: “Me and Toni [Minichiello, her coach] spoke about coming here and we only wanted to come here if I was ready to contend for a medal. We spoke about the bronze medal and how that would be amazing, we spoke about a silver medal, but we never spoke about
a gold medal. I just thought it was a little beyond me this year.”
AW readers were so impressed with her achievements that they voted her top of a strong list of contenders, including world 200 metres champion, and European record-breaker, Dafne Schippers, and world record-breaker Genzebe Dibaba, who clocked 3:50.07 for 1500 metres in Monaco and dominated the world final over the distance.
Ennis-Hill was also voted winner of the British female category ahead of UK record-breaking sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and British hammer record-holder Sophie Hitchon.
1, Jessica Ennis-Hill 38.9 per cent
2, Dafne Schippers 27.1 per cent
3, Genzebe Dibaba 15.7 per cent
AW readers recognised the top performances of Morgan Lake in 2015 when the multi-eventer equalled her own British junior high-jump record of 1.94 metres, both indoors and out. She also won the European junior high-jump title and finished ninth in the European indoor pentathlon, where she broke the British under-20 record and set a world age-17 best.
Runner-up Bobby Clay won the European junior 1500 metres title and moved to eighth on the UK junior all-time list with her 4:12.20. Third-placed Catherine Reid ran a 52.25 personal best to move to equal third on the UK junior 400 metres all-time list when claiming world youth bronze.
1, Morgan Lake 28.3 per cent
2, Bobby Clay 24.0 per cent
3, Catherine Reid 18.3 per cent
After completing the double at the IPC Athletics World Championships in both Christchurch (2011) and Lyon (2013), the Paralympics in London and the Europeans in Swansea (2014), Hannah Cockroft went one better in Doha this summer, securing a world T34 100, 400 and 800 metres triple, while she also clocked 30.51 and 59.42 to break her own 200 and 400 metres world records.
She was an overwhelming winner of this category ahead of another world record-breaker, Sophie Hahn, who smashed her own T38 100 metres best and won double gold in Doha, and Georgie Hermitage, who like Jessica Ennis-Hill was a nominee for this year’s BT Sport Action Woman of the Year award.
1, Hannah Cockroft 55.3 per cent
2, Sophie Hahn 18.3 per cent
3, Georgina Hermitage 9.8 per cent
Dina Asher-Smith has worked her way from the junior to senior ranks in superb style and was voted this year’s British breakthrough act. Now aged 20, Asher-Smith broke the British 100 and 200 metres records and equalled the UK indoor 60 metres record while still a teenager. She is the only British woman to have legally run sub-11 seconds for 100 metres, while her 200 metres time of 22.07 seconds was clocked when the Blackheath & Bromley athlete finished fifth in the world final.
1, Dina Asher-Smith 49.6 per cent
2, Laura Muir 16.0 per cent
3, Nick Miller 13.6 per cent
Jo Pavey won the European 10,000 metres title and Commonwealth 5,000 metres bronze in 2014, and this year the 42-year-old set a world over-40 10-mile best at the Great South Run, a UK over-40 half-marathon best at the Great Scottish Run and ran 32:56 for 10km when regaining the British road title.
1, Jo Pavey 59.6 per cent
2, Anthony Whiteman 10.5 per cent
3, Diane Norman 10.5 per cent
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Whittington is Web Editor at Athletics Weekly. Athletics Weekly is the UK’s No.1 magazine and website for track and field, road racing and cross-country, avidly followed by runners, athletes and fans alike. It recently celebrated its 70th birthday and will continue to provide fans with all the latest from the world of the sport in the run-up to Rio 2016 and beyond. Jessica’s latest articles.