SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award shortlist has now been reduced to a final three as BMX cyclist Beth Shriever, wheelchair racer Craig Boardman and rower Holly Dunford compete for this year's crown. The winner will be revealed at the charity's annual SportsBall in London next Thursday (23 November) with Beth, Craig and Holly all due to be in attendance for the big announcement.
Beth, Craig and Holly have been upported by SportsAid after a shortlist of 10 was released last week. 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.
Tom Daley received the charity’s very first One-to-Watch Award in 2006 when he was 12 years old. Since then, fellow winners have included para-athlete Hollie Arnold, hockey player Harry Martin, sprinter Jodie Williams, skeet shooter Amber Hill and heptathlete Morgan Lake. All six of these athletes competed across the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games where SportsAid alumni won 150 medals.
The judging panel is chaired by Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Winckless MBE. Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and Natasha Baker MBE, a five-time Paralympic champion, are new additions with Matt Slater, the Press Association’s Chief Sports Reporter, Joslyn Hoyte-Smith of the GB Olympians’ Association, and SportsAid’s Laura Eddie all returning.
Here's more of an in-depth look at the final three athletes up for the One-to-Watch Award....
Beth Shriever (cycling)
18 from Braintree, Essex
SportsAid awards in 2013, 2014 and 2017
• Gold in the junior women’s class at the UCI BMX World Championships 2017
• Five junior titles across the UEC BMX European Cup Series 2017
• Sixth place in the Papendel round of the UCI BMX SX World Cup Series 2017 (senior level)
“I was amazed when I found out I had been nominated. It’s a special award. I look at the list of people who have won it previously and it’s impressive. SportsAid has been so important for me. BMX is an expensive sport and my mum and dad have had to go into their own pockets a lot. The support of SportsAid has helped with travelling costs, new equipment….lots of different things.
“The biggest highlight this year was the World Championships and coming away with a gold in the junior women’s class. It was so surreal, I had been dreaming of that moment for so long. So for it to happen like that, after all the work I put in, was just amazing. I move up to the seniors next year and it’s a massive jump. It’s going to be a real eye opener competing with the best in the business.”
Craig Boardman (para athletics)
17 from Thruxton, Hampshire
SportsAid award in 2017 (Realbuzz)
• Gold in the T34 100m at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships 2017
• Gold in the T34 200m at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships 2017
• Gold in the T34 400m at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships 2017
“I felt so happy when I was shortlisted. It takes a lot to wake up in the morning and go and train, even when it’s raining, so it’s good to know that people are watching. I’m glad it’s not gone unnoticed. It’s probably been one of the best years of my life, I got a European record [over 100m] and in one training session with Richard Chiassaro, I went faster than the top speed I’ve ever done.
“I went from being nothing in the world to being number three and a record holder in my first two years of doing it. We take it one thing at a time. I’ve got the Europeans coming up and, because I have the record, I’m hoping to prove myself there. It’s winter training now, so we can’t really train outside that much. I bought a new pair of rollers with my SportsAid funding so I can train inside when it’s raining.”
Holly Dunford (rowing)
18 from Tadworth, Surrey
SportsAid award in 2017 (GLL Sports Foundation)
• Gold in the women’s double at the World Rowing Junior Championships 2017
• Set new British record for junior women on the ergometer (Under-18s level)
• Three first place finishes in the single sculls at the GB Rowing Team Junior trials
“It’s a confidence boost [being shortlisted] knowing other people are aware of the hard work I’ve put in. SportsAid has definitely helped me pay for competitions. We went to Munich earlier on in the season and it helped cover the cost of that so it meant I could go out there and race. It was the first international experience I had and it helped me understand how tough the worlds were going to be.
“It was pretty surreal [winning gold at the worlds]. You always think that it could happen but you never really think it will. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet but it’s something I’m going to remember for a long time. It wasn’t until they were giving us the medal, we thought, ‘yeah, this is actually happening’. It showed that the whole season paid off. All the hard work I put in is coming together now."
Here’s the list of the previous One-to-Watch Award winners since the charity launched the accolade in 2006....
2006 – Tom Daley (diving)
2007 – Andrew Brown (sailing)
2008 – Hollie Arnold (disability athletics)
2009 – Jodie Williams (athletics)
2010 – Harry Martin (hockey)
2011 – Sally Brown (disability athletics)
2012 – Courtney Tulloch (gymnastics)
2013 – Amber Hill (shooting)
2014 – Morgan Lake (athletics)
2015 – Emma Wilson (sailing)
2016 – Alex Yee (triathlon)
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 1,000+ 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 MBE (Chef De Mission, Commonwealth Games England)
· Dame Katherine Grainger (Chair, UK Sport)
· Natasha Baker MBE (current Paralympic equestrian athlete)
· Matt Slater (Chief Sports Reporter, Press Association)
· Joslyn Hoyte-Smith (Chair, GB Olympians’ Association)
· Laura Eddie (National Awards Manager, SportsAid)
Beth Shriever - SWpix
Craig Boardman - Job King/British Athletics
Holly Dunford - Naomi Baker/British Rowing