In a wonderful evening for women’s sport, Claudia Fragapane won Young Sports Personality of the Year. The 17-year-old gymnast is the first British woman in 84 years to win four gold medals at one Commonwealth Games.
Jill Stidever won the Sport’s Unsung Hero award: after spending nearly 60 years teaching thousands of children with special needs to swim. Jill is still going strong and takes her inspiration from the many children that she helps.
Jo Pavey was third in the main Sports Personality of the Year award behind Rory McIlroy and winner Lewis Hamilton after becoming the oldest-ever female European athletics champion at the age of 40 years and 325 days. Jo is truly proof that family life can inspire rather than hinder success. The athlete from Devon won the 10,000m title in Zurich 10 days after winning bronze in the 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games. She only returned to the track in May, eight months after giving birth to her second child, when she won British 10,000m Championship.
And, introduced by Gabby Logan as ‘did you hear the one about the plumber, the veterinarian and the policewoman’ the World Cup winning Rugby team are the 2014 Team of the Year. The World Cup winners took the honour ahead of Europe’s Ryder Cup golfers, the GB & Northern Ireland athletics squad and the Mercedes F1 team.
England beat Canada 21-9 in Paris to win the World Cup for the first time since 1994 after three final defeats – something they were determined would not happen again – and with Emily Scarratt going one better than Jonny Wilkinson by scoring the winning try and kicking the conversion.
Many of the England players returned to full-time jobs following the win, and as Gabby said that includes the plumber, Marlie Packer; police officer, Claire Allan and Sophie Hemming the vet, while Captain Katy Mclean is a primary school teacher, (some of the players had given up their jobs so they could concentrate on training before the World Cup).
After the World Cup win it was announced that the England Women’s Sevens squad would be turning professional, this is with an eye on the Olympics in Rio where sevens rugby will feature, with the Rugby Football Union giving full-time contracts to 20 players.
How absolutely brilliant, in today’s world of plastic celebrity, to have a stage full of real life role models, the array of talent on display awesome.