Beth Mead has been crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2022 after leading England to a historic European Championship that propelled women’s football into the mainstream.
The 27-year-old edged out competition from Ben Stokes and Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the award, limping onto the stage at MediaCity in Salford to collect the award. after severely injuring his knee last month.
Mead said she was “speechless for once” and held back tears as she thanked her mother, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, and received a standing ovation from sports stars in the crowd.
Mead said: “I certainly wouldn’t have done this without my dad, my mom and my whole family. Above all, this is for women’s sport and for women’s sport to go in the right direction. Let’s keep pushing girls and doing the right things.”
Mead had been the heavy favorite after her tournament-best six goals and five assists helped the Lionesses reach a Wembley final where they defeated eight-time champions Germany. to secure his first major trophy – and England’s first since 1966.
The award completed a clean sweep for the England women at the 69th Sports Personality of the Year Awards. They also won team of the year and coach of the year for Sarina Wiegman, the first woman to receive the award in her 23-year history.
It is the first time in half a century that the highest award has been won by women in consecutive years, after the triumph of Emma Raducanu in 2021. The last time it happened, 21-year-old Princess Anne took the prize for winning gold in the all-around events in 1971, followed a year later by pentathlete Mary Peters.
But it’s also a bittersweet victory for Mead, who tore his ACL playing for Arsenal last month – an injury that will almost certainly rule him out of next year’s World Cup – and has had to deal with the struggle of his mother against cancer
Mead hinted at her personal difficulties in an interview with Alex Scott earlier in the evening when asked how her Lioness teammates had helped her through problems, watched from the audience by her father and brother.
“The girls are like a family away from home and when things at home haven’t been going so well, they’ve been very supportive,” she said, looking briefly emotional.
The forward, whose mother briefly tried to encourage her to take up ballet before realizing that her daughter was a much better footballer, later told reporters that she would die happy to have won the Spoty.
Asked if she had any advice for future Lionesses inspired to play this year, Mead said she played her best football “when she was playing for the love of the six-year-old she started.” She added: “So I would say enjoy every moment and don’t forget the reason you’re playing football.”
The award caps off an eventful year for the footballer, who has spoken candidly about “hating” being left out of the British team’s 2020 Olympics squad and, much more painfully, about her mother’s ongoing treatment for cancer. .
Mead told The Guardian last month that she had spent the whole year “trying to put a smile on my mom’s face.” There is perhaps no more fitting way to end 2022 than with the coveted BBC trophy.
Seven of Mead’s Lioness teammates collected the team of the year award, presented by Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan, Alex Scott and Clare Balding.
Jill Scott, newly crowned queen of the jungle in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, said she hoped the team’s win has inspired many girls to order football boots this Christmas “and it will be classified as normal.” ”While she accepted the award from her.
Stokes, who came in second, could have made a strong claim to the coveted ward, had it not been for Mead’s golden year. stokes hit England to T20 World Cup glory and took over as test captain in April, a first year capped with England’s first Test series victory away from home in Pakistan in 22 years.
Eve Muirhead, who won the Olympic gold medal as the women’s curling jump at the Beijing winter games, placed third in the competition, which is decided by a live public vote from a shortlist selected by a panel of experts.
One of the most emotional moments of the evening came when Rob Burrow, former England rugby league and Leeds Rhinos player, received a standing ovation as he received the Helen Rollason Award for his work raising awareness about his illness, Alzheimer’s Disease. the Motor Neuron.
Taking the stage alongside his wife Lindsey Burrow, the former scrum-half said he was “totally overwhelmed” and had been “inspired to keep going” by close friend and former teammate Kevin Sinfield, who choked back tears when he was given a special. Award for his superhuman fundraising efforts.
Sinfield, who has raised more than £7m by running seven marathons in seven days in 2020 and 300 miles from Edinburgh to Manchester in one week last month, described Burrow as “the most inspiring guy in the UK right now. “, and added :: “He has inspired us all to be best friends.”
There was some controversy even before the first trophy was handed out when Lineker joined a chorus of criticism over the omission of 28-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick, who won golf’s prestigious US Open in June.
Lineker tweeted two embarrassing emojis over the decision not to shortlist Fitzpatrick, while two-time Golf Club World Championship winner Ian Poulter described the awards as an “ongoing farce and joke”.