Written by Jen Offord

In The News

Woman of the Year: Dame Sarah Storey

Our writers pick the women who rocked their world in 2016. For Jen Offord, there’s simply no one like this dame.

Dame Sarah Storey at the BBC SPOTY awards with Kadeena Cox, Gabby Logan and Clare Balding. Photo: Keiron McCarron/BBC.

Dame Sarah Storey at the BBC SPOTY awards with Kadeena Cox, Gabby Logan and Clare Balding. Photo: Keiron McCarron/BBC.

Not that you would know it from looking at the recently-revealed results of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but 2016 – though mind-bendingly awful in myriad ways – was a pretty awesome year for women’s sport.

I don’t want to go on about SPOTY, because Andy Murray was of course the rightful winner, and both Alistair Brownlee and Nick Skelton are deserving of accolades; it’s just harder to see how their achievements surpassed any of the women on the shortlist.

Still, we live in a post-truth society, and as much as the prize might not have been “Sports Personality (who carried their brother over the finish line in competition) of the Year”, it’s hard to argue against that particular incident as a heart-warming moment.

It’s also difficult to single out one of the women on the list – or indeed, the many who did not make the cut. Tennis player Johanna Konta, who finished the year ranked 10th in the world from a ranking of 151st in the world, just over a year-and-a-half ago; Jessica Ennis Hill who narrowly missed out on her second Olympic gold medal.

“Sarah Storey won three golds at her SEVENTH games this year, to surpass Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s haul and secure her status as Great Britain’s most successful female Paralympian of all time.”

Internationally there was Serena Williams who finally drew level with Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam victories.

Winner of the SPOTY international category (voted for by sports journalists) was gymnast Simone Biles, who took home an astonishing FOUR golds as well as one bronze medal at her first Olympic Games, this summer.

Others in contention for the main prize included Laura Kenny, now Britain’s most successful female Olympian; Nicola Adams, who this year won the World Championships to complete a ‘grand slam’ of titles, meaning she has now won gold in every major tournament (not to mention that second Olympic gold medal in Rio); and Kadeena Cox who is the first British Paralympian since 1988 to have medalled in two sports at the same Paralympics.

It is a shame none of their achievements were deemed high enough by the public to make the top three, but Cox brings me onto the woman I will happily declare as my pick for Sporty Woman of the Year.

Sarah Storey with just a few of her medals.

Sarah Storey picking up a medal or four at London 2012. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

She’s a woman who has excelled in not one but two sports. Of course, it’s Dame Sarah Storey.

Storey went into this year’s Paralympic games with 22 Olympic medals under her belt from six Olympic Games. She won three golds at her SEVENTH games this year, to surpass Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s haul and secure her status as Great Britain’s most successful female Paralympian of all time.

This is not to mention another gold and two silvers at the Para-cycling Track World Championships.

Storey started her athletic career as a swimmer, but took up cycling after she was forced out of the pool thanks to persistent ear infections – to dominate two sports in the way she has done, as well as picking up medals in competition with able-bodied athletes, is beyond incredible.

She has a little way to go before she becomes GB’s most successful Paralympian ever – she’d need another two gold medals, and perhaps at 39 this looks less likely. But as she refuses to rule herself out of the Tokyo Games in 2020, history has proven only an idiot would be quick to write her off.

Storey’s success literally transcends boundaries. Her fearsome determination and spirit is an inspiration to all athletes, male and female, able-bodied or otherwise, and indeed to us all. Dame Sarah, we salute you.

Read our contributors’ other picks for women of the year here.

@inspireajen

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Written by Jen Offord

Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen