Outstanding achievements in the worlds of diving, climbing, cycling and golf feature in this month’s nominations for the Action Woman of the Year 2016. Laura Winter and Sue Mott sift through some truly inspirational performances
For qualifying to represent Great Britain at Rio in the women’s 10-metre diving after a tortuous two-year fight including undiagnosed stress fractures in both legs that left her in crippling and mystified pain.
Bumped off the synchronised team with long-time partner, Tonia Couch, her confidence was so severely knocked that she was close to giving up the sport that had given up on her. She had one last chance to qualify at the British Championship in Sheffield in June. “Every day and night I would think about them – my last chance to qualify for Rio. I didn’t always think I could achieve the challenge. My confidence had been damaged and knocked possibly a little too much.” She won. By quite a margin. “Self-belief, grit and determination is what got me to the top of that podium, through inner strength and the energy to prove people wrong.”
For achieving an incredible double triumph: becoming World Bouldering champion, the first Briton to win the title, and being awarded the MBE in The Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List. She receives the award for “services to climbing”, as co-founder of the hugely successful Women’s Climbing Symposium, which aims to boost the number, quality and confidence of women who want to climb.
The staggering double achievement prompted the British Mountaineering Council to dub her The Queen of Climbing. She dominated the World Cup series this year, winning four of the first five events and a silver at June’s event in Vail, Colorado, was enough to give her an unassailable lead in the points tally.GB & IRELAND CURTIS CUP TEAM
For winning the trophy for only the second time in the last 10 contests, overcoming a powerful USA team in Country Wicklow by 11½ points to 8½. The team: World No1 Leona Maguire headed the Irish contingent, along with compatriots Olivia Mehaffey and Maria Dunne, while England was represented by Bronte Law, Alice Hewson, Meghan MacLaren, Rochelle Morris and Charlotte Thomas.
With the USA making a determined fightback of the singles, MacLaren held on to defeat Bethany Wu at the 17th and secure the home side’s winning point. Team member Bronte Law said: “For me to end it this way – it’s probably going to be my last Curtis Cup – is just a dream. I am so proud to just represent my country.”
For winning the Aviva Women’s World Tour and being officially selected for the Rio 2016 road team. The Otley-born world champion secured the Tour yellow leader’s jersey when she won stage three from Ashbourne to Chesterfield, saluting the sky in honour of murdered MP Jo Cox as she crossed the line.
Her team, Boels Dolmans, successful defended the yellow jersey on stage four and stage five to hand Armitstead her fourth UCI Women’s World Tour victory this season. It was all the more special for being achieved on home soil.
“What a fantastic team performance it’s been.” she said. “We had quite a lot of pressure on us today, I couldn’t let them down really so I’m relieved and happy I did it for them. Being a British athlete, I feel so lucky to be part of a country that loves cycling at the moment and I hope that the bubble continues.”
DOWNHILL MOUNTAIN BIKING
For making history in winning a 10th successive World Cup mountain bike downhill race. She equalled French rider Anne-Caroline Chausson’s record at the beginning of the month when she won at Fort William, before breaking it at Leogang, in Austria, on June 12.
The “wild run” Atherton experienced was the 30th World Cup victory of her career. Shortly after winning, she posted a triumphant photo on Instagram, with this caption: “Yeeeeaaa Haaaaa!! Can’t believe I just won my 30th World Cup AND my 10th IN A ROW!! Thought I might crash today because I was so nervous this morning, but held her upright!!”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Sue Mott is an award-winning sport journalist who has worked on radio, TV and the written press. Sue’s latest articles
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 is 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.