2021 Review: 12 Sportspeople of the Year
As US Open winner at the age of just 18, Raducanu qualified for the event after winning 10 straight matches in New York, becoming the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade’s Wimbledon victory in 1977. Born in Toronto, Canada, but having moved to London at the age of 2, the Bromley local has since appointed Torben Beltz as her new coach for next year who is best known for having coached Angelique Kerber during her successful Australian Open and US Open campaigns in 2016. The BBC’s 2021 Sports Personality of the Year will continue to go from strength to strength in 2022, starting the year with her Australian Open debut in Sydney.
Sinfield, a Leeds Rhinos legend, ran 101 miles from Leicester to Leeds in November to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease research for his former teammate and great friend Rob Burrow. He successfully raised over £2 million for the MND Association and Leeds Charity Hospital Trust. Also the Leicester Tigers defence coach, Sinfield and has helped the Rugby Union side to a 100% win record so far this season and are currently top of the Gallagher Premiership Table.
The England fly half’s rise to prominence has not shocked many pundits within the rugby world. Smith received his Lions tour call-up after having only played once for England and has helped secure victories over Australia and World Champions South Africa. Earlier in the year, Smith was influential in leading Harlequins to glory in the Gallagher Premiership which was their first silverware since LV Cup victory in 2013.
Flashback to 2019 and Steward was on a night-out in Leeds after playing for Loughborough University against Leeds Beckett. Two years on, he is starring, and scoring tries for England against both Australia and South Africa. Steward is incredibly reliant under the high ball and plays with a level of maturity that belies his youth. Steward will be hoping to help his club side Leicester Tigers to glory next year in the Premiership.
Peaty is arguably the most underrated and underappreciated sports star from Britain in last few decades. He cemented his status as Britain’s greatest ever swimmer with gold in the 100-metre breaststroke at the Olympics, an event he has not lost in since 2014, and a gold medal podium finish in the 4 x 100 mixed medley relay where his breaststroke was simply stunning.
Also nominated for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, The Gypsy King’s performance against Deontay Wilder in their third fight was outstanding. He won the fight by an eleventh round knockout and is arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer on the planet. With Anthony Joshua losing to Ukrainian Oleskandyr Usyk, Fury’s next fight doesn’t look obvious, with a potential domestic clash against Dillion Whyte being the most likely option.
The 22-year-old and previous World Champion has burst into the limelight after picking up gold in the women’s BMX racing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2017, Shriever became a teaching assistant after funding for British BMX got cut in 2016 as she needed to provide additional funding. Shriever has a long career ahead of her and will be hoping to improve further to defend her Olympic title in 2024.
Lauren Price destroyed all before her in the middleweight boxing division on her way to Olympic gold. The southpaw’s journey to gold is made even more amazing through her captaincy of Welsh national football team in 2012. Price has had conversations with promoter Eddie Hearn about turning professional and when she does, Price has a chance to further raise the profile of women’s boxing much like former Olympic Champion Nicola Adams.
Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl victory back in February at the age of 44. Teaming up with former teammate Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to play with Brady, the ageless quarterback won Super Bowl MVP as the Bucs beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
This Norwegian arguably produced the greatest performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the men’s 400 metre hurdles. Warholm smashed the world record, which had stood for 29 years, running a time of 45.94 seconds. He has since been named Male Athlete of the Year by the World Athletic, becoming the first 400m hurdler since 1992 to win the award.
Thompson beat great rival Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce in the Women’s 100 metre final in Tokyo. The two Jamaican’s rivalry made the women’s sprint a must watch event and Thompson’s time of 10.61 seconds was legendary. Thompson won the World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year due to her amazing performances throughout 2021, which also saw her run the second fastest time ever of 21.53 seconds in the 200-metre event.
Finally, Rashford has continued to maintain a high standard of performance on the pitch, particularly as part of the England squad that reached the Euro’s final before heartbreak against Italy. Utilising his platform, Rashford’s activism off the pitch to end child hunger has earnt him an MBE through holding the British government accountable.
Image Credit: Sky Sports