13th December 2023
2023 BRITISH ATHLETICS WRITERS ASSOCIATION AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED
World champions Jonathan Broom-Edwards, Hannah Cockroft, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Josh Kerr were among the winners at the British Athletics Writers Association awards for 2023.
In BAWA’s 60th anniversary year, Johnson-Thompson picks up the Cliff Temple Award for Female British Athlete of the Year for her comeback victory in the heptathlon at the world athletics championships in Budapest after rebounding from a series of injury setbacks.
The Liverpudlian, who previously took this prize in 2019, came out ahead in the voting among the journalists and broadcasters who cover the sport.
Kerr, 26, takes the John Rodda Award for Male British Athlete of the Year for the first time in his career following his golden Budapest triumph in the men’s 1500 metres.
The Scot, emulating his club-mate Jake Wightman’s win in 2022, was a unanimous selection in the votes cast.
“It’s been a phenomenal year,” Kerr said. “It was a big step in the right direction in my career in terms of getting another medal. Being able to stand on top of the podium has been such a fantastic experience. Hopefully it will continue and it’s just the start.
“I have big plans coming up for Olympic year. I’m trying to keep it as exciting as possible but I have both eyes locked in on Paris. I’m going to attack this year like any other year which is focusing on the big day and working back from there. We have some fun things coming up indoors, hopefully getting out there to compete, then have some hard races outdoors, and get ready for the Olympics.”
Hannah Cockroft is crowned Female Para Athlete of the Year for a record fifth time at the end of a year in which the multiple Paralympic gold medallist showed no signs of slowing down. The Yorkshire woman earned the T34 100m and 800m titles in Paris, taking her tally of world crowns to 14, with a silver from the relay on top.
“It’s been a fantastic year for me,” she said. “And I’m really proud of everything I’ve achieved but 2024 is going to be a big one. It’s recognition like yours that keeps me going on nights where the motivation is as low as the temperature. It’s chilly. It’s damp. But knowing that you guys are supporting us all the way and helping us grow our sport means the absolute world. To have won this for a fifth time in my career is massive.”
The Male Para Athlete of the Year went to Jonathan Broom-Edwards for the first time. The Paralympic champion, 35, shared gold in the T64 high jump at the world para athletics championships with a clearance of 2.05m in his lone outing of 2023.
“In my 13-year career in sport. I’ve never been nominated for an award until the past two weeks and now I’m on three,” he revealed. “To receive it in a turbulent year when I had a hamstring injury eight weeks prior to world championships meant it was my one competition of the year. So to get it right, when it counted, is testament to my team for getting me there, and it’s something I can be really proud of.”
The Lilian Board Memorial Award for Junior Female for the second time goes to Joy Eze. The Gateshead Harrier struck gold in the women’s 100 metres at the European U20 Championships in Jerusalem in 11.39 seconds, with a relay success on top, in addition to the BUCS indoor 60m title. “It means so much to me,” she declared. “It’s a huge motivator to achieve more next season and the years after that.”
Charlie Carvell claimed the Jim Coote Memorial Award for Junior Male after taking men’s 400m silver in Jerusalem as the GB&NI captain. “This year has been brilliant for me,” he admitted. “I started off with hamstring injuries, came back healthy and it worked out really well.”
The Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award was presented to senior athletics correspondent, Alex Spink of the Daily Mirror. Long a contemporary to the late Orvice, Spink was put forward by his peers in recognition of his brilliant work in conveying the sport to a tabloid audience over a long period of time as well as his pursuit of tough stories. In the eyes of one colleague: “No one has worked harder and for so long to keep athletics in the public eye of tabloid readers. Vikki was a close friend of Alex, and she admired the way he always stood up for the sport. He was an inspiration to her, to his fellow reporters, and – I imagine – to everyone here.”
The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics, gifted by the BAWA Committee, was given to distance coach Mike Johnston, regarded as the godfather of the crop of Scottish middle-distance athletes that have taken major medals over the past decade. He joined Cambuslang Harriers 40 years ago and his skills in nurturing talent were deployed by Scottish Athletics as head of endurance until his formal retirement. He remains an active coach and mentor to a new generation.
“I just enjoy coaching,” he said. “I like to see people improve. It doesn’t have to be winning medals or making teams but I like to see people get the most out of athletics and just enjoy the sport. That’s the key thing. But we did have a good phase where things went well on the endurance side in Scotland. The big thing was identifying and supporting the right people, especially the coaches, in setting up a good framework. And Mark Pollard has done a great job taking it on and expanding on it since I retired.”
BAWA AWARDS 2023 WINNERS
John Rodda Award for Male Athlete of the Year – Josh Kerr
Cliff Temple Award for Female Athlete of the Year – Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Male Para Athlete of the Year – Jonathan Broom-Edwards
Female Para Athlete of the Year– Hannah Cockroft
Lilian Board Memorial Award for Junior Female – Joy Eze
Jim Coote Memorial Award for Junior Male – Charlie Carvell
Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award – Alex Spink
Ron Pickering Memorial Award – Mike Johnston
An online video of the awards is available HERE.