Final three announced for SportsAid's One-to-Watch Award with winner set to be revealed at next week's 40th anniversary SportsBall

SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award shortlist has now been reduced to a final three as triathlete Alex Yee, skeleton slider Ashleigh Pittaway and swimmer Tom Derbyshire compete for this year's crown. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary SportsBall with Alex, Ashleigh and Tom all due to be in attendance.
17 November, 2016

SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award shortlist has now been reduced to a final three as triathlete Alex Yee, skeleton slider Ashleigh Pittaway and swimmer Tom Derbyshire compete for this year's crown. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary SportsBall in London next Thursday (24 November) with Alex, Ashleigh and Tom all due to be in attendance for the big announcement. 

Alex, Ashleigh and Tom have been selected from 1,106 rising British stars supported by SportsAid after a shortlist of 10 was released a fortnight ago. 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 just 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 in Rio this summer across the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

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, the English Institute of Sport, the Press Association and the British Athletes Commission. Para-archer Danielle Brown, a double Paralympic gold medallist, also joined the panel this year.

Here's more of an in-depth look at the final three athletes up for the One-to-Watch Award...

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 benefitted an awful lot from the support of SportsAid - having them behind me is invaluable.

“Becoming World Duathlon Junior champion was definitely the highlight of the season for me. It put me top of the world for my age group and that means a lot to me. I also had the World Triathlon Junior Grand Final where I finished fifth. I’ve trained with the seniors on occasions so the likes of Vicky Holland, Non Stanford and Jonny Brownlee. Just to see what they do and their attitude towards the sport was very useful, and showed me what I need to try and do. Four years is a long time. I would definitely like to aim for Tokyo and try and perform to the best of my ability.”

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 it is really special. 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. But they’re not just with you for the medal moments; they are supporting you throughout the year. Winning that was an amazing feeling. I still get congratulations from people now. I just tried to keep calm at the time and told myself that it was just a normal race.

“It was a great experience to then go on to the World Cup circuit [after the Winter Youth Olympics] and compete against the best in the world. At the start of the year, getting a gold at the Youth Olympics was my main goal for the season but to slide in a World Cup race too was amazing. I’ve collected a lot of experience and learnt a lot which I can hopefully translate into this season. We recently had the skeleton selection races so I was able to talk with the senior guys and get advice from them like Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold.”

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

- Gold in the 1,500m 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.

“The highlight for me this year has got to be the European Junior Championships in Hungary, it was the competition I had been working towards and I managed to become 1,500m champion. I made sure to get up in the early hours to catch the swimming during the Olympic Games. I actually went to the European Games with Duncan Scott and Cameron Kurle and they were both in Rio. It shows that it’s not too far off for me; I’m totally aiming for Tokyo. I’m really enjoying training in Bath and my next aim is trying to make the World Championships team next year.”

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 1,106 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)

Here’s the list of the previous One-to-Watch Award winners since the accolade was launched....

2006 – Tom Daley (diving)
2007 – Andrew Brown (sailing)
2008 – Hollie Arnold (para athletics)
2009 – Jodie Williams (athletics)
2010 – Harry Martin (hockey)
2011 – Sally Brown (para athletics)
2012 – Courtney Tulloch (gymnastics)
2013 – Amber Hill (shooting)
2014 – Morgan Lake (athletics)
2015 – Emma Wilson (sailing)

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

Alex Yee - British Triathlon
Ashleigh Pittaway - AL TIELEMANS (YIS/IOC)
Tom Derbyshire - SW Pix