SportsAid announces 2016 One-to-Watch Award shortlist

SportsAid is delighted to announce the 10 athletes on the shortlist for this year’s One-to-Watch Award. The annual award, set to be presented at the charity’s 40th anniversary SportsBall on 24 November, was launched in 2006 with six of the previous recipients competing across the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.
03 November, 2016

SportsAid is delighted to announce the 10 athletes on the shortlist for this year’s One-to-Watch Award. The annual award, set to be presented at the charity’s 40th anniversary SportsBall in London on 24 November, was launched in 2006 with six of the previous recipients competing for Great Britain across the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. 

Tom Daley received the charity’s very first One-to-Watch Award in 2006 when he was just 12 years old. Since then, fellow winners have included para-athlete Hollie Arnold, hockey player Harry Martin, sprinter Jodie Williams and heptathlete Morgan Lake. Last year’s victor was sailor Emma Wilson who won gold at the RS:X 2014 Youth World Windsurfing Championships.   

The 2016 One-to-Watch Award shortlist includes two Youth Olympic champions, world and European title holders and a Paralympic bronze medallist (full biographies and quotes further down) with a wide range of national accolades between them…

Alex Yee, 18, from Brockley - triathlon
Ashleigh Pittaway, 16, from Munich (lives in Bath) - skeleton
Bradly Sinden, 18, from Doncaster - taekwondo
Dan Whiteley, 18, from Bangor - sailing
Gregg Warburton, 19, from Leigh - wheelchair basketball
Harry Huang, 15, from Bedford - badminton
Kelsea Purchall, 18, from Exeter - bobsleigh
Madi Rowlands, 16, from Maidstone - skiing
Niamh Emerson, 17, from Alfreton - athletics
Tom Derbyshire, 18, from Stafford - swimming
 
The 10 athletes shortlisted have been selected from 1,100 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports during 2016. Each year, athletes are nominated by their sport’s governing body on the strength of their talent and potential, demonstrating why the One-to-Watch Award has gained such a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects.
 
"The confidence and recognition [of winning the One-to-Watch Award] did a lot for me,” said Hollie, a gold medallist in the F46 javelin at the Paralympics this summer, who received the One-to-Watch Award back in 2008 aged 14. “Winning the award was for my family too for all their input and hard work. I couldn't have done without the SportsAid grant - it enabled me to buy javelins and equipment.”

The judging panel for the award is chaired by Sarah Winckless, a retired Olympic rower who won bronze in the double sculls in Athens in 2004, with representatives from Sport England, UK Sport, English Institute of Sport, the Press Association and the British Athletes Commission. Para-archer Danielle Brown, a double Paralympic gold medallist, joined the panel this year.

Skeet shooter Amber Hill was presented with the One-to-Watch Award by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, the Patron of SportsAid, in 2013. Over the years, many SportsAid alumni have returned to present the award including Matthew Pinsent, Steve Redgrave, Victoria Pendleton, Steve Backley, Ben Ainslie, Christine Ohuruogu, Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas.  

Here’s more information on this year’s shortlisted athletes…

Alex Yee (triathlon)
18 from Brockley
Received SportsAid awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 (Dave Aitchison Fund) 

- Gold at the ITU World Duathlon Junior Championships 2016
- Bronze at the Quarteira ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup 2016
- Fifth at the ITU World Triathlon Junior Grand Final Cozumel 2016
SportsAid’s Athlete of the Month for May 

“It’s amazing to see my name on the shortlist among so many other fantastic athletes in Great Britain. It’s a massive honour for me. I’ve been supported by the Dave Aitchison Fund through SportsAid for three years. Triathlon is not the cheapest sport in the world with the bikes, the wet suits and all the equipment. The support is essential and without it, there are a lot of opportunities we wouldn’t be able to take so I feel very lucky. As an athlete I have benefited an awful lot from the support of SportsAid - having them behind me is invaluable.”       

Ashleigh Pittaway (skeleton)
16 from Munich (lives in Bath) 
Received a SportsAid award in 2016

- Gold at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games
- Third at the Konigssee European Cup event (senior)
- 15th at the Konigssee IBSF World Cup event (senior)
- Joining the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton centralised programme in 2017

“I was blown away when I found out I was on the shortlist, I could not believe it as there are so many other worthy athletes in the country so to be in the top ten is really special. I feel really honoured just to be a part of the top ten. SportsAid have been fantastic this year. I remember when I was at the Youth Olympics and I won my gold medal, they were there at the finish line congratulating me and interviewing me. Winning that was an amazing feeling. But they’re not just with you for the medal moments; they are supporting you the whole time throughout the year.”

Bradly Sinden (taekwondo)
18 from Doncaster
Received SportsAid awards in 2015 and 2016 (Backing The Best programme with Sport England) 

- Bronze in the -68kg category at the Dutch Open 2016 (seniors)
- Gold in the -63kg category at the Dutch Open 2015 (juniors) 
- Gold in the -63kg category at the European Junior Championships 2015 
- Won Great Britain Taekwondo’s ‘Junior Athlete of the Year’ award 2016

“I’m just so grateful to be selected for the shortlist and thankful to the people who put my name forward. It’s really good to be recognised and to be nominated for an award that so many successful people have won in the past. SportsAid have been so helpful throughout my career so far and not just with the funding. I want to get to the highest level possible and they are helping me to do that with their advice and financial support.”

Dan Whiteley (sailing)
18 from Bangor
Received SportsAid award from Doris Dibden in 2016

- Bronze in the Laser Radial at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships 2015
- Silver at the Laser Radial Youth European Championships 2016
- Fourth at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships 2016

“SportsAid have played a large role in my sailing career. They have helped to go to competitions through their financial support but everything they do has helped me to become a better athlete in general. I was really chuffed when I found out I had been nominated; it’s not often that sailing gets such recognition. I feel really proud to be on the list, especially with the names of people who have won before. It’s my dream to be an Olympian one day so I’d love to follow in their footsteps.”

Gregg Warburton (wheelchair basketball)
19 from Leigh
Received SportsAid awards in 2012 (Variety Club), 2014, 2015 and 2016 (Elton John Sports Fund) 

- Bronze at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
- Scored double figures against Algeria and Brazil at the Paralympics
- Won National Premier League 2016 title with Oldham Owls
- Gold at the Under-22 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships 2014 

“To be nominated among such names is a big honour - it’s only just sinking in. There have been some big winners of the award in the past like Tom Daley, so just to be nominated is something special. SportsAid have been a massive help, especially this year just gone, where I’ve clocked up a lot of miles with my wheelchair basketball competitions. To do that is not cheap and so their financial support has meant a lot to me. It’s all been a bit hectic this year but knowing you have SportsAid there supporting you through all your training really makes a difference.”

Harry Huang (badminton)
15 from Bedford
Received SportsAid awards in 2012 (SportsAid Eastern), 2015 and 2016 (SSE Next Generation programme)

- Gold (singles) and silver (doubles) at the European Under-15s Championships 2016
- Gold in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the English Under-15s National Championships
- Silver in singles and doubles at the English Under-17s National Championships
- Ranked number one in Europe at age-group level

“I was quite surprised to be on the list, I was not expecting to be chosen so it’s a great honour. It puts a bit of expectation on me going forward but I don’t mind it. There have been some big names who have been on this list and gone on to do well so I’m hopeful of doing the same. SportsAid and SSE have been so supportive of me. The workshops in particular have really helped me to become a more mature athlete and a better educated athlete. The funding has obviously been really helpful - it has helped me with my training and getting to competitions. I’m very grateful.”

Kelsea Purchall (bobsleigh)
18 from Exeter
Received SportsAid awards in 2015 and 2016

- Bronze in the monobob at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games
- Won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the IBSF racing series 2016 
- Ranked number one in the world at age-group level in monobob

“The Youth Olympics were back in February so to still see my achievements recognised by being nominated for this award is great. This is my second year of being with SportsAid. The monetary side of things is obviously a big plus but just knowing that people believe in you gives you that extra motivation to push on and be the best athlete you can be. During the Youth Olympics, SportsAid were so supportive, tweeting my results and reporting on how I was getting on. But the thing is, they have been involved right the way through the season and that’s been really nice.”

Madi Rowlands (skiing)
16 from Maidstone
Received SportsAid awards in 2014, 2015 (BNY Mellon) and 2016 (Elton John Sports Fund)

- Gold in the ski halfpipe at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games
- Bronze in ski slopestyle at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games
- First at the British Women’s Halfpipe Championships 2016
SportsAid’s Athlete of the Month for February

“It’s amazing to be nominated for the One-to-Watch Award. SportsAid’s support has been really good for me. I’m able to use the funding on flights and accommodation, and it really helps me out. It’s a huge confidence boost knowing they are behind me and backing me. It’s good to know someone has my back. This is a great way to finish my year. I wish I was able to go to more of the meet-ups, but when I do get the opportunity to go, it’s nice to meet all the other athletes and see what they’re up to.”

Niamh Emerson (athletics)
17 from Alfreton
Received a SportsAid award from Stuart Cross in 2016

- Bronze at the European Youth Athletics Championships 2016 in heptathlon
- Broke the British youth record twice this year for heptathlon with top score of 5,919 points
- First in the high jump at the Loughborough International Athletics meet (seniors)
- Third in the high jump at the British Athletics Championships (seniors)
SportsAid’s Athlete of the Month for July 

“It is really good to be nominated for such an amazing prize, and I had no idea such big names like Tom Daley had won it before. Getting recognition is really good and it has been such a good year for me. SportsAid’s support has been a massive help from the financial side of things. But it’s also inspiring because people are investing time and money in you and it encourages you to keep training hard. I am really happy with how I have done this season. I need to take it step-by-step and next year I am looking at the European Under-20 Championships in Italy – that’s the main goal.”

Tom Derbyshire (swimming)
18 from Stafford
Received a SportsAid award in 2016

- Gold in the 1500m freestyle at the European Junior Championships 2016
- Gold in the 1,500m freestyle and 400m freestyle at the Energy Standard Cup 2016
- Won gold, silver and bronze at the Samoa Commonwealth Youth Games 2015
- Ranked number one in Europe at age-group level in 1,500m freestyle

“I was very surprised to be nominated. To be considered for the award is amazing and makes the work you put in worthwhile. During the Olympics and Paralympics you could see so many athletes winning medals who had been supported by SportsAid and that really drives you on knowing what people have gone on to achieve. It gives you belief that you are on the right path. Swimming is not the cheapest sport with all the competitions so that’s been really helpful but it’s also the psychological aspect of knowing that you’ve got somebody supporting you, and that is really motivational.”
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Here’s the criteria for the One-to-Watch Award…

• Must be recommended by their sport’s national governing body.
• Must be one of the 1,100 British athletes supported by SportsAid this year.
• Excellence in results at the international level.
• Excellence in results at the domestic level.
• British/European/world rankings.
• Membership of national squads/teams.
• Age group status, standing and years left.
• Commitment, dedication, promise (comments received from their sport’s National Governing Body).
• Likelihood to improve in following years – performance and ranking.

Here’s the judging panel for the One-to-Watch Award…
 
• Chaired by Sarah Winckless (Olympian, SportsAid alumna)
• John Wood (UK Sport)
• Matt Slater (Press Association)
• Simon Wergen (Sport England)
• Joslyn Hoyte Smith (English Institute of Sport)
• Laura Eddie (National Awards Manager, SportsAid)
• Danielle Brown (Paralympian, British Athletes Commission, SportsAid alumna) 
• Ian Braid (British Athletes Commission)

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Here's the appropriate photo credits for the images used of athletes...

Alex Yee - British Triathlon 
Ashleigh Pittaway - AL TIELEMANS (YIS/IOC)
Bradly Sinden - Andy Thompson (Sport England)  
Dan Whiteley - Nick Dempsey (RYA)
Gregg Warburton - British Wheelchair Basketball
Harry Huang - SSE  
Kelsea Purchell - Jed Leicester (YIS/IOC)
Madi Rowlands - Jon Buckle (YIS/IOC) 
Niamh Emerson - Mark Shearman 
Tom Derbyshire - SW Pix