By Nick Harris
8 November 2010
Tony McCoy’s victory in the 2010 Grand National has been acknowledged as the ‘Jump off the sofa’ moment of the British sporting year so far, bolstering his credentials as the favourite to win next month’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
The category was included in the inaugural Jaguar Academy of Sport Awards, which took place last night in the Long Room at Lord’s.
Other awards went to Graeme McDowell (most inspirational British sportsman of 2010 for winning the US Open), Jess Ennis (most inspirational British sportswoman), Amy Williams (best British sporting performance, for winning Winter Olympic gold) and Ellie Simmonds (best British sporting performance for an athlete with a disability).
But McCoy’s award is arguably the best pointer to the SPOTY award, because his National win, at the 15th attempt in the race, was effectively voted as the defining sporting moment of the year. The SPOTY award is decided by a public vote and McCoy, champion jump jockey 15 times, is sure to be a major contender at the very least.
The Ulsterman has regained his SPOTY favourite’s status with the bookmakers having been briefly overtaken by McDowell in October after the latter had secured the vital hole that sealed the Ryder Cup for Europe.
At the time of writing, McCoy is now back to 6-5 favourite for the SPOTY award generally, while McDowell is 3-1 second favourite. (Current odds here). The new world No1 golfer Lee Westwood is third favourite at around 8-1, followed by Ennis and diver Tom Daley.
The Jaguar Academy of Sport, established this year and funded by the British car maker, is a bursaries and mentoring programme with a stated aim to “recognise, celebrate and inspire the very best of British sporting talent and success.”
In its first year, it has given bursaries worth £100,000 to 35 young, aspiring athletes across a range of sports.
Five of the athletes were given awards for their achievements last night: Jade Jones (with live medal hopes for London 2012 in taekwondo), Thomas Allen (open water swimming), Sheree Cox (shooting), Kelsie Gibson (adaptive rowing) and Grace Reid (diving). More details about all 35 bursary recipients are at this link.
The academy intends to award bursaries of more than £1m in 2011, and to continue increasing its investment in British sport beyond the 2012 Olympics. Its stellar cast of patrons and ambassadors, including David Beckham, Sir Ian Botham, Gareth Edwards, Dame Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ennis, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Sir Chris Hoy, Lee Westwood and a growing cast of others, have been or will be involved in mentoring events in the coming years.