20th December 2022
Double act Muir and McColgan, plus Wightman make it a Scottish treble top in BAWA Awards
Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s sole individual gold medallist at the 2022 world championships, Jake Wightman, has been named British Male Athlete of the Year in the annual awards overseen by the British Athletics Writers Association.
And for the first time in BAWA’s 59-year history, there is a joint winner of the Female Athlete of the Year prize with Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan tied on voting for the prize.
Wightman, 28, earned the John Rodda Award for the second time in three years for his blistering surge to men’s 1500 metres gold in Oregon, the first global gold for a British male over that distance since Seb Coe’s Olympic triumph in Los Angeles in 1984. He later also gained a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham over the same distance and a silver in the 800m at the European Championships in Munich.
He said: “It’s a real honour in what was the busiest year we’ve ever had as athletes and I’m sure for you guys, trying to cover it, it even worse battling jetlag, different time zones and three major championships can’t have been easy. So congratulations to all of you for surviving it. Thanks for trying to put our sport in the best light possible and for giving it the platform in Britain it deserves.”
Muir acquires the Cliff Temple Award for Female Athlete of the Year for the second time in her career in tandem with Eilish McColgan, her club-mate at Dundee Hawkhill Harriers.
Another spectacular summer brought Muir, 29, bronze over 1500m at the world championships, followed by a successful defence of her European title in Munich. In between, she also took 1500m gold and 800m bronze at the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s a Dundee Hawks takeover,” she said. “2022 has been pretty crazy but pretty amazing. It’s very fortunate things worked out very well at all three championships for me and I came away with a lot of medals. I’m very happy and honoured that Eilish and I were voted as Athlete of the Year because she had a fantastic year as well.”
It was in Birmingham where McColgan, 32, had her finest hour to date by emulating her mother Liz with a Commonwealth gold in the 10,000m in one of the memories of the sporting year. She also added silver in the 5000m there and then acquired a 10,000m silver and 5,000m bronze at the Europeans. Amid her road-running exploits, she broke the British half-marathon record with a time of 1:06:26 in the UAE, set a European best of 30:19 over 10km in Manchester and also added national records over 5km, 15km and 20km.
“It has been a pretty special 2022,” McColgan said. “To be winning these awards is pretty surreal. Especially winning it jointly with Laura. We’re keeping it Scottish. We’re keeping it patriotic. She’s had an incredible year like she’s had for the past five years. But it is a huge honour to receive this. 2022 really has been an incredible season from the roads to the track.”
Yemi Mary John takes the Lilian Board Memorial Award for Junior Female Athlete of the Year with the 19-year-old prospect landing 400m gold at the world under-20 championships in Cali in 51.50 secs, as well as leading GB&NI to relay bronze.
She said: “Starting from my end of season where I made my debut in the senior team at world indoors all the way through the world Under-20 championships where I was able to come away as champion, thanks for recognising me for all the hard work and for everything I was able to come away with this season.”
The Jim Coote Memorial Award for Junior Male Athlete of the Year goes to Ethan Hussey after the young Yorkshireman claimed bronze in the 800m in Cali as well as coming sixth over 1500m.
He said: “It wasn’t an easy season at all. It was quite a long season. But to top it off with bronze in the 800 at world juniors was a phenomenal achievement for my team around me. This recognition is a great way to top off 2022 and helps me to push on going into 2023 which will be a hard year with two more championships with European Under-23s and worlds seniors.”
The BAWA membership, through nomination, selected Matt Hudson-Smith as the recipient of this year’s Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award. The Midlander, 28, earned bronze in the 400m at the worlds before landing gold at the Europeans in the 400m and 4x400m relay. Adding Commonwealth silver over 400m, Hudson-Smith won admiration for his openness about his mental health struggles in recent years before rebounding in style in his best summer to date.
“I really appreciate being awarded the BAWA Inspiration award,” he said. “It’s been a mad year with everything that’s happened and I appreciate the award. I’m training hard for bigger and better things for 2023.”
The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics goes to prominent athlete-turned-coach Aston Moore. The 66-year-old, twice a Commonwealth medallist in the triple jump, has guided a succession of British jumpers to global highs including Olympic silver medallist Phillips Idowu and ex-world indoor and European champion Ashia Hansen.
Now employed by UK Athletics, he has also worked with Olympic medal-winning heptathlete Kelly Sotherton and is currently helping in the careers of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jazmin Sawyers, among others.
His services as a coach and a coach educator are valued around the world and it is wonderful that he is being recognised for all that he’s achieved over such a long career. Moore was recently announced as the recipient of UK Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award recognising his accomplishments among his peers across all sports.
Shaun Pickering, on behalf of the Pickering family, said: “My sister and I, along with the trustees of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, are extremely happy that Aston has been recognised in this way as he truly epitomises what it means to be a high performance coach, and it is particularly pleasing to recognise a Jumps coach in this way.
“Ron was lucky enough to coach Lynn Davies to global and European titles, and Jean Pickering, as Jean Desforges, was a European Champion in the long jump – and Aston and the athletes he has worked with follows on in this tradition.”
Sotherton, who worked with Aston for many years added: “Aston became my coach through me losing my coach after Athens 2004. He had to learn how to coach a heptathlete who already had won an Olympic medal. No mean feat. We learned together, took our time, and found our groove.
“Many forget that he had a lot of success with me and doesn’t get that recognition. He’s isn’t just the triple jump coach that everyone thinks he is. The most multi-talented, compassionate coach that I would say this country has ever produced. He will forever be my coach. “
2022 BAWA Award Winners
John Rodda Award for Male Athlete of the Year: Jake Wightman
Cliff Temple Award for Female Athlete of the Year: Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan – tie
Lilian Board Memorial Award for Junior Female: Yemi Mary John
Jim Coote Memorial Award for Junior Male: Ethan Hussey
Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award: Matt Hudson-Smith
Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics: Aston Moore
Report is courtesy of the British Athletics Writers Association