Laura Kenny has been named 2016 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year this evening.
The four-time Olympic champion – Great Britain’s most successful female Olympian in history – fought off competition from fellow Great Britain Cycling Team member Dame Sarah Storey, who finished second, as well as the likes of Jade Jones and Johanna Konta.
The awards, now in their 29th year, recognise the contribution made to sport by elite performers, coaches, administrators and community volunteers.
Kenny is the third cyclist to be given the accolade, following Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke, in 2007 and 2008 respectively. She picks up the award having enjoyed a sensational year on the track, winning two world and two Olympic titles in 2016.
British Cycling head coach, Iain Dyer, said this evening:
“It is great to see Laura’s fantastic achievements recognised in this way. Her dedication, talent and ability to perform on the biggest stage have again been highlighted this year, and the fact that she is Britain’s most successful ever female Olympian at the age of just 24 is testament to that.
“Laura is also a tremendous ambassador for cycling and for women in sport, and I know she will be extremely proud to have won this award against such tough competition, and to be playing her part in inspiring the next generation of girls to take up sport.”
There was more cycling success elsewhere, as Kadeena Cox won Paralympian of the Year and inspirational cycling volunteer Kirsty Cameron took home the Community Award.
Cox has enjoyed a record-breaking year, winning gold medals in cycling and athletics to become the first Briton in 32 years to win Paralympic titles in two different sports in the same year.
Of her award this evening, Jon Norfolk, para-cycling head coach at British Cycling, said:
“I’m delighted that Kadeena’s incredible year has been recognised in this way. Her story is one of true determination, and in bouncing back from adversity to win Paralympic titles in two different sports – therefore writing her name into the history books – I am certain she will have inspired countless people across the country.”
Kirsty Cameron’s award is in recognition of her fantastic work in setting up Ladies Leisurely Cycles, a group based in Angus, Scotland, which has given women of all ages the chance to discover – or rediscover – a love for cycling.
Asked about her advice to other women considering taking up cycling, Kirsty said:
“Just take the bull by the horns. You don’t know what you’re missing. It’s very social, a great way to make friends and meet new people. The café stops are great as well!”