Bradley Wiggins, who this year became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and added Olympic time trial gold in London ten days later, has been named the Sports Journalists’ Association’s Sportsman of the Year for 2011. Sarah Storey, winner of four gold medals at London 2012, was the winner of the Paralympic Sport award for women.
Last year’s winner of the Sportsman of the Year award was Mark Cavendish, who Wiggins helped win the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen; this year, the roles were reversed as the world champion formed part of the Sky line-up that resulted in Wiggins winning the maillot jaune.
Cavendish would go on to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and Wiggins is a strong frontrunner to succeed him to that title too.
Storey’s award recognised her four gold medals in London this summer put her level with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson with 11 Paralympic gold medals during her career – five of Storey’s were in the swimming pool before she switched to cycling ahead of the Beijing Games in 2008.
At yesterday’s SJA event in London, Barry Newcombe, chair of the organising committee that arranges the awards, said: “It’s been probably the greatest year in the history of British sport, and certainly one of the busiest for our members.”
“This year’s awards were twice the size of the event when I became chairman, and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the National Lottery, who we were delighted were able to come along and share in the celebrations with so many of the great competitors who they have helped fund through their sporting careers.”
The SJA Sportsman of the Year award was instituted in 1949, with cyclist Reg Harris one of five sportsmen who shared it that year. He won the award outright in 1950. Tom Simpson was the next cyclist to win, in 1965, and in 2008 Sir Chris Hoy won it. Beryl Burton won the Sportswoman of the Year award in 1967, and Victoria Pendleton in 2007.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.