SportsAid's One-to-Watch Award judging panel has been bolstered by the exciting additions of Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and five-time Paralympic champion Natasha Baker MBE. The Award, which is presented at SportsAid’s annual SportsBall, was launched in 2006 and looks to shine a spotlight on the achievements of Britain’s most promising young athletes.
Katherine and Natasha recently ran the rule over this year’s nominees as they met with their fellow panel members to shortlist the top 10 – all of whom have been selected from over 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid in 2017. Each year, athletes are put forward by their sport’s National Governing Body (NGB) based on the strength of their talent and potential for future success.
The One-to-Watch Award has an outstanding ‘Hall of Fame’ with double Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley and Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold MBE among its previous winners. Triathlete Alex Yee was crowned last year’s victor and he received the accolade from Sir Mo Farah, a recipient of SportsAid support in 1999, who said he had ‘a lot of potential both as a triathlete and as a runner’.
Katherine and Natasha, who were also both previously helped by the charity, are part of a panel of six, led by Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Winckless MBE, with Matt Slater, the Press Association’s Chief Sports Reporter, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith, Chair of the GB Olympians’ Association, and Laura Eddie, SportsAid’s National Awards Manager, the remaining members.
Sarah, who is the Chef de Mission of Commonwealth Games England for Gold Coast 2018, has been the Chair of the One-to-Watch Award panel since 2014. She oversaw Team England’s 72-strong squad at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas during the summer and offers great expertise, alongside the five other panellists, across both senior and youth-level sport.
“As ever, the standard of the One-to-Watch Award nominees has been incredibly high which always gives the panel an interesting challenge,” said Sarah. “Having Dame Katherine Grainger, Matt Slater, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith, Natasha Baker and Laura Eddie on the panel brings a wealth of sports knowledge as well as specific knowledge of these athletes and their journeys.
"With many junior gold medallists among our top 10, we can be assured that the next generation of athletes are getting ready to take their place in the senior rankings.”
Here are the biographies of each of the One-to-Watch Award judges:
Sarah Winckless MBE (Chair)
Commonwealth Games England
Sarah is the Chef de Mission of Commonwealth Games England for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. She won a bronze medal in the double sculls at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and was crowned a two-time world champion in the women’s quad in 2005 and 2006. Sarah was the inaugural Chair of the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission and has previously acted as the Chef de Mission for Team GB at the Youth Olympic Games.
Dame Katherine Grainger
Katherine is the Chair of UK Sport and Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. She won gold at London 2012 and silver medals in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Rio, as well as six titles at the World Rowing Championships. Katherine has a PhD in Criminology and was appointed fourth Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2015 for a seven-year tenure. Katherine has also sat on the British Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission since its formation in 2010.
Natasha Baker MBE
Natasha is a five-time Paralympic champion in equestrian. She competes in the grade II classification and won three gold medals in Rio and two in London. She has also claimed five European titles with her eyes firmly set on adding to her medal haul at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Natasha works tirelessly to change the perception of disability, to inspire the next generation of Paralympic athletes and to show the world that despite people's challenges, incredible things can be achieved!
Matt is the Chief Sports Reporter at the Press Association. He previously worked as a Sports News Correspondent at the BBC where he had undertaken a number of roles online, on radio and television over a 16-year period. Matt has developed a reputation for breaking stories on sports finance, doping and governance, and won a number of awards including the BBC Nations and Regions ‘Sports Journalist of the Year’ and the Sports Journalists’ Association’s ‘Internet Journalist of the Year’.
GB Olympians’ Association
Joslyn Hoyte-Smith is the Chair of the GB Olympians’ Association. She won bronze at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games as a member of the 4x400 metres relay team, and claimed individual bronze at the Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games. She was also crowned 400m champion at the UK Athletics Championships on three occasions. She previously worked for the English Institute of Sport – UK Sport’s science, medicine and technology arm - as its Performance Operations Manager.
Laura is the National Awards Manager at SportsAid. She is responsible for managing the process by which athletes are nominated to SportsAid by the National Governing Bodies of sport and the subsequent allocation of financial awards. She joined the charity in 2012 from the University of Essex where she led the performance sport programme. She is also the Club Director of Saracens Women’s Rugby and a member of the ‘Pro Safe Sport’ project working group funded by the Council of Europe.