Sport Editor Lauren Coffman talks to the nominees for UB Sport’s ‘Sportsperson of the Year’, perhaps the most prestigious accolade on offer this Friday

Written by Lauren Coffman
Last updated
Images by Wikimedia Commons , Sophie Peck

As UoB gets set for its inaugural virtual Sports Awards, Redbrick spoke to the four nominees for ‘Sportsperson of the Year’.

This accolade honours an individual who is performing at the highest level in their sport, achieving great success along the way.

This is something all four of the nominees have accomplished this year, each one of them having triumphed both on a British stage and internationally, proving just how worthy they are of this recognition.

Despite only taking up her sport competitively at the age of 17, Anna Henderson has proved that she is a force to be reckoned with in the road cycling world.

It was a day I will remember for the rest of my life

Her remarkable accomplishments this year include winning a bronze medal in the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay at the World Road Cycling Championships in September 2019. This is an achievement she cites as her standout moment this year, saying ‘it was a home world’s in Yorkshire and we were not expected to medal. Safe to say it was a day I will remember for the rest of my life.’

Henderson’s accolades for this year do not stop there.  She also competed in the Elite Road Race at the same competition, coming 22nd, the highest finish for a Team GB rider.

At the National U23 Road Championships last summer she became the GB Road and Time Trial champion, and she took home silver at the senior National Road Championships.

This year also saw her gain a one-year contract with Team Sunweb, making her debut in January 2020 for the UCI Women’s Team. With it only being her first year as a professional and on the World Tour, it will be fascinating to watch what Henderson does next.

On her nomination, Henderson said: ‘I was extraordinarily flattered to be nominated for the award. But once I saw who I had been nominated alongside, I was brimming with pride as the talent those girls hold is outstanding.’

The second nominee, Francesca Williams had another stellar season for club and country, as well as with the UoB Netball first team.

Williams was picked as part of England’s squad for the 2019 Netball World Cup

Aged just 21, Williams was picked as part of England’s squad for the 2019 Netball World Cup, a home tournament in Liverpool. She came away with a bronze medal, paving the way for another outstanding season in which she has cemented her place as a senior England international.

As a vital part of the UoB Netball first team, Williams has helped lead her side to plenty of BUCS success this year. They finished the season unbeaten and as champions of the Premiership North, and had reached the BUCS Championship final, a game they were unable to contest due to COVID-19.

Sadly, the Netball Superleague season, which Williams was due to be a part of with her club Wasps, was curtailed due to the risks posed by COVID-19. Nevertheless, Williams has had a year to remember, and one she will no doubt build upon once netball returns, as she looks to push on and continue to make her mark in the England Squad.

On being nominated for this award Fran told Redbrick, ‘there are so many high achieving and hard-working athletes at Birmingham Uni so to be a part of that group is a privilege.’

Now at the end of her second year at UoB, Issy Boffey has shown once again what a talented athlete she is, both as part of the Birmingham University Athletics Club and Team GB.

Boffey once again demonstrated her talents on the biggest of stages

In her final year as a junior, Boffey once again demonstrated her talents on the biggest of stages, coming away with two gold medals at the European Junior Championships (800m and 4x400m), her best championship result so far.

She came 4th at the Senior National Championships and won the British Milers Club Female Junior Athlete of the Year, in recognition of her talent and hard work.

Boffey also excelled this BUCS season as track captain, coming away with a gold medal in the 400m and a silver medal in the 4x200m at the recent BUCS Nationals, breaking a UoB record in the process.

As Boffey readies herself to enter her first season as a GB senior, her nomination for this award should give her a great boost, something she agreed with. ‘I am so honoured to just be nominated in these awards, there are so many amazing athletes at UoB and it was a shock to be chosen.’

At only 19 years old and in her first year of University, the final nominee, Yasmin Javadian, has already cemented herself as one of UoB’s top sportswomen.

Javadian is already a full-time Judoka, currently World number nine and European number four in her weight category. At both the European U21 and U23 Championships this year, Javadian picked up a bronze medal, the latter being her standout moment, revealing ‘I couldn’t stop smiling for a week.’

[Javadian] is an important part of UoB Judo

Though Javadian trains full time off-campus, at the British Judo Centre, she is an important part of the UoB Judo team. She got her first taste of BUCS life at this year’s BUCS Nationals, where she won both a team and individual gold, a ‘brilliant’ achievement which was due to ‘the whole team [getting] behind each-other to take home the gold.’

Her reaction to being shortlisted shows her humble attitude despite her success. ‘I was over the moon [to be nominated]. As a first year I did not expect it at all. It’s made me realise how much I’ve actually achieved this year.’

As Javadian looks forward to next year’s European Championships, currently set to take place in November, it is clear she is certainly one to watch for the future, as she moves up an age category and aims to begin placing at senior competitions.

To find out who wins Sportsperson of the Year, tune into the UB Sport YouTube channel this Friday at 7:30 pm.

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