With the year already a quarter over, there is a growing list of contenders for the crown of BT Sport Action Woman of the Year 2016. Here are the outstanding performances by female sportswomen during March. The successor – or successors – to the England Lionesses, the 2015 winners, will be decided by public vote and celebrated in December at the Award Show, televised by BT Sport and presented by Clare Balding
For winning the Foxhunter Steeplechase at Cheltenham for the second year running, her fifth career win at the National Hunt Festival. Carberry repeated her 2015 success aboard the favourite On the Fringe, beating Marito by a neck in a tight finish.
The 31-year-old from County Meath, Ireland, had the added pressure this year of the scrutiny on the race because of the participation of Olympic cyclist and novice jockey Victoria Pendleton, as well as it being the next race on the card after the Gold Cup.
Speaking afterwards, Carberry described her emotions after her victory over the same chase course the Gold Cup had just been run: “Just seeing all those people in the stands. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Pendleton’s creditable fifth place rather overshadowed Carberry’s stylish win, but Nina was full of praise for the Olympian: “It’s the first time I’ve met her and I think she’s great. She’s got an unbelievable attitude to the whole thing and I’m delighted she got around.”
Pendleton may have picked up the reins a year ago, but racing is in Carberry’s blood. She has been riding racehorses from the age of 10, rode her first winner at just 18 and won the Irish Grand National in 2011. Her racing pedigree runs dee – both her father and her brother won the Grand National (1975 and 1999), and she is married to Ted Walsh Junior, brother to champion jockeys Ruby and Katy Walsh.
Carberry’s lifelong ambition is follow the family tradition and win the National at Aintree, which would make her the first woman to do so. Despite her amateur status, Carberry has ridden in five Grand Nationals, completing the course four times. This makes her not only one of the most successful amateurs in the history of arguably the toughest race in the world, but her achievements match up to some of the best professionals.
For becoming the first player in the world, male or female, to reach 2,500 runs in T20 international matches. England’s captain passed the landmark when she scored an unbeaten 77 from 61 galls in the World Cup group-stage game against Pakistan. That took her to a grand total of 2,574 runs from 94 matches – with more to come as England progressed through to the semi-finals of the tournament.
But with the modesty of a born leader, Edwards refused to take all the credit for her record-breaking performance. “I am really pleased [to get 2,500 runs],” she admitted. “But Tammy Beaumont was exceptional and our partnership has been really key throughout this World Cup. She has performed well and taken a little bit of pressure off me in the power play and enables me to play my game. She played brilliantly and I thought everyone who came in were fantastic as well. I was ably supported and it’s nice to get a big score.”
For qualifying to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games after winning gold at the Buffalo City ITU World Paratriathlon event in South Africa. Patrick won the PT5 race for visually impaired athletes with her guide Nicole Walters more than three minutes ahead of Spain’s Susana Rodriguez.
Patrick, who was recruited to Paratriathlon from athletics in 2013, reflected on her performance: “I’m really happy to have secured my spot for Rio and really excited for the season ahead. It was a really good race with lots of learning from racing with a different guide.” Patrick usually trains with guides Hazel Smith and Grace France and needs constant communication for all three disciplines.
Patrick will be joined at the Paralympics by Lauren Steadman, who won the PT4 category at the same event.
For winning two world titles at the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, breaking two world records in the process. Giglia, who had a stroke in 2013 which resulted in paralysis to her right side, won the C3 3km pursuit and the C3 500m TT in Montichiaria, Italy, despite only taking up the sport in 2014.
The 31-year-old said: “I’m still pretty new to the sport and this is just a stepping stone in the right direction. Hopefully I will continue to go and get stronger and faster as we go on. I’ve worked hard to get to this point and will continue to do it, to prove I can do what I am here to do, but I have given myself the best opportunity possible.”
Giglia was selected on to the Paralympic Development Programme in May 2014 before progressing on to the Academy at the end of the year and earning her first GB vest at the UCI Paracycling Track World Championships in 2015.
For a record-breaking performance in the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race – 120 miles, non-stop, overnight, and with Storm Katie threatening – from sleepy West Country canal to the packed river traffic of the Thames. A peculiarly British race from which the winners earn nothing except the deep respect of their fellow competitors and a pile of water-logged clothes. Burbeck and Lane finished second overall in the senior race in a time of 17 hours, 59 minutes – the highest finish in history from an all-women K2 crew.
To put the achievement in perspective, this was the race that Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, failed to finish in 2012. Apart from the pitch dark during the night section and 77 ‘portages’ (as they quaintly call the necessity to run with canoe round obstacles like bridges), one of the principle hazards was the reckless help of friends at the feeding stations. “We ended up soaking wet, snotty-nosed and with our faces covered by poorly-aimed bananas,” said Burbeck. “It isn’t terribly glamorous.”
But the kudos is immense. As her husband, the Olympic canoe coach Gareth Wilson, tweeted: “2day my wife Kat Burbeck with Alex Lane became fastest women’s K2 crew ever 2 complete DW canoe race #proud.”
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.