The public have been voting and the winner of the second edition of BT Sport’s Action Woman of the Year Award will be announced in a special programme to air on BT Sport 1 on Wednesday, December 10.
Clare Balding hosts the ceremony which celebrates Britain’s leading sportswomen from 2014 and she will present the trophy at the end of the night to the winner, as voted for by the public, during a star-studded awards bash at BT Sport’s Olympic Park studios.
2014 has been another incredible year for Britain’s sportswomen and the shortlist of nominees is bursting with talented individuals who have produced dynamic sporting performances.
Each nominee has a supporter from the world of sport or entertainment who has been especially dazzled by their achievements this year and all 10 will be hoping to succeed last year’s victor, downhill mountain biking star Rachel Atherton, as BT Sport’s Action Woman of the Year.
The 10 contenders for the award include many of the biggest names in British women’s sport, including Olympic, World and European champions in their chosen sports, as well as some of women sport’s most prolific performers.
This year’s shortlist is headlined by Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold, who won gold in sensational style in Sochi, in an esoteric sport in which Great Britain has a proud recent history.
Encased in nothing but a crash helmet, skin-tight lycra and abruptly-churning air, she thrashed the opposition to emulate the performance of previous British winner, Amy Williams, who returned with gold from Vancouver 2010.
“Rather amusing” were the words Jo Pavey, a mother-of-two, fast-approaching her 41st birthday, in the third decade of her career and only 11 months on from giving birth to her second child, chose to describe her first major title.
The sporting world, meanwhile, found her European 10,000m gold not so much amusing as extraordinary, and after clinching a memorable 5,000m bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Pavey’s comeback continued in Zurich 10 days later as she beat France’s Clemence Calvin – 16 years her junior – over the finish line to become the oldest female champion in the competition’s 80-year history at the age of 40 years and 325 days.
The Devon-based runner, a four-time Olympian who first graced the international scene back in 1997, gave a master class in tactics, waiting until the last lap to slip into the lead before choosing the perfect moment to kick away from Calvin on the final bend and power down the home straight.
Equestrian rider Charlotte Dujardin became known as the ‘girl on the dancing horse’ at the 2012 Olympics and since then has amassed prestigious records and global titles like pony club rosettes.
The formidable partnership between Dujardin and her spectacular horse, Valegro, is one of the most successful in dressage history, and competing in her first World Cup in 2014, she swept the field with victory in both classes and followed up with two further near-perfect performances at the World Championships in France.
While Yarnold, Pavey and Dujardin are likely to be the front-runners for the award, Grand Slam-winning women’s wheelchair doubles tennis champion Jordanne Whiley could one of the ceremony’s dark horses.
Birmingham-born Whiley made history in August as victory in the women’s wheelchair doubles at the US Open saw her complete the elusive calendar Grand Slam.
With three penalties, a try and a conversion, rugby player Emily Scarratt, the centre and goal-kicker of the England women’s team, led an effervescent World Cup final performance against Canada which changed the course of sporting history.
Three times beforehand England had lost in the world’s most prestigious final but with 2014 came redemption and Scarratt’s personal contribution was 16 of England’s 21 points, and she emerged from the tournament a legitimate candidate for the title of best female player in the world.
Another contender is gymnast Claudia Fragapane, who, at just 16 years old and in her first year of senior competition, went to Glasgow as an unknown and left as the Commonwealth Games’ breakout star and British Gymnastics’ new sensation, winning four gold medals.
The first Englishwoman to clinch such a haul at a Games in 84 years, the diminutive teenager from Bristol, who’s Italian-born dad dons his Azzurri football shirt while watching her compete, had the Hydro Arena audience captivated by her devastating floor performance.
Other nominees include England women’s cricket captain Charlotte Edwards, double World Cup bouldering champion Shauna Coxsey, England and Liverpool Women’s footballer Fara Williams, and record-breaking rowing world champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
It promises to be a special night at the Olympic Park as the most high profile figures in women’s sport gather for a very unique awards ceremony at BT Sport’s state-of-the-art studios.
Commenting on the premise of the awards, sports journalist and regular BT Sport contributor Sue Mott said: “It was once thought that women shouldn’t play sport. That it might affect their health and fertility, or the delivery of lunch to the household table in timely fashion. Either way, it was discouraged.
“Then various things happened, including 2014, when Britain’s greatest female athletes stormed to victories, medals, glory, attention and acclaim on ice, fields, courts, mats, water, vertical walls and immaculate horseback.
“The BT Sport Action Woman of the Year will celebrate those athletes in a star-studded awards ceremony presented by Clare Balding and shown on BT Sport.”
Find out who wins the 2014 BT Sport Action Woman Award when Clare Balding presents the award in a special hour-long show on the night after the ceremony itself on Wednesday, December 10, at 7.30pm on BT Sport 1.
Wednesday 10th December
BT Sport Action Woman of the Year 2014
Highlights: 7.30pm-8.30pm BT Sport 1