22nd November 2023


World medallist Yemi Mary John (coach: Alan James, club: Woodford Green Essex Ladies) and Commonwealth Youth Games champion Madeline Down (Mike Bennett, Halesowen) have been shortlisted in the top 10 of this year’s SportsAid One-to-Watch Award.

The annual award was launched in 2006 and looks to shine a spotlight on the stories behind Britain’s brightest young sporting prospects, and previous athletics winners of the award include Hollie Arnold, Morgan Lake and Jodie Williams.

Yemi Mary John has enjoyed a breakthrough year in the sport as she won her first major medals at senior level.

Over the past two seasons, she has won 400m silver at the European U20 Championships before being crowned World U20 champion in 2022. In 2023, she added European U23 400m gold to her collection after a stunning run in Espoo, setting a PB of 51.04, and beating Olympic 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson in the process.

Even more success would follow later in the summer season when she won her first senior World Athletics Championship medals. On the opening night of the programme, she anchored the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team to silver in the 4x400m mixed relay, before closing the championships with a bronze medal as part of the women’s 4x400m relay squad.

As for Madeline Down, the 16-year-old from the West Midlands earned her first medals at international level as she represented Team England at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago.

Down – who has been part of the British Athletics Paralympic Futures Programme over the last few years – earned her first call-up to an England team at the Games and won two medals.

She won gold in the T38 100m and long jump at the Games. This followed a PB in the 100m set at the London Athletics Meet earlier in the summer, the time 13.12.

SportsAid’s mission is to encourage, enable and empower the next generation of British athletes to achieve their ambitions in sport and life. Over 1,000 talented young sports stars – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – are nominated to SportsAid each year to receive financial support and a range of personal development opportunities. These athletes are the country’s brightest prospects having been selected and put forward to the charity by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports.