England star Beth Mead crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2022

Beth Mead was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2022 after sending England back to a historic European Championship that propelled women’s football into the mainstream.

The 27-year-old saw competition from Ben Stokes and Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the award, hobbling onto the MediaCity stage in Salford to collect the prize. after seriously injuring her knee last month.

Mead said she was “speechless for once” and held back tears as she thanked her mother, who is undergoing cancer treatment, and received a standing ovation from sports stars in the crowd.

Mead said: “I definitely wouldn’t have done this without my dad, mom and all of my family. It’s mostly for women’s sport and for women’s sport to go in the right direction. Let’s keep pushing the girls and doing the right things.

Mead had been the overwhelming favorite after her tournament-best six goals and five assists helped the Lionesses to a final at Wembley where they beat eight-time champions Germany. to win their first major trophy – and the first in England since 1966.

The award completed a full sweep for 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 win the accolade in their 23-year history.

It is the first time in half a century that the top prize has been won by women in consecutive years, after the triumph of Emma Raducanu in 2021. The last time this happened, 21-year-old Princess Anne won gold in eventing in 1971, followed a year later by pentathlete Mary Peters.

But it’s also a bittersweet win for Mead, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Arsenal last month – an injury that almost certainly rules him out of next year’s World Cup – and had to deal with his mother’s battle with cancer.

Mead hinted at her personal struggles in an interview with Alex Scott earlier in the night when asked how her Lioness teammates helped her through the issues, watched from the public by her father and brother.

Gabby Logan (left) interviews the England women's football team and manager Sarina Wiegman
Gabby Logan (left) interviews the England women’s football team and manager Sarina Wiegman. Photograph: David Davies/PA

“The girls are like family away from home and when things at home weren’t going well, they were so supportive,” she said, briefly sounding emotional.

The striker, whose mother briefly tried to encourage her to take up ballet before realizing her daughter was a much better footballer, later told reporters she would die happy to have won Spoty .

Asked if she had any advice for potential future Lionesses inspired by the game this year, Mead said she played her best football “when I was playing for the love of the six-year-old years that began”. She added: “So I would say enjoy every moment and don’t forget what you are playing football for.”

The award caps a frantic year for the footballer, who has spoken candidly of ‘hating’ being left out of Britain’s 2020 Olympic squad and, far more painfully, her mother’s ongoing cancer treatment.

Mead told the Guardian last month that she had spent the whole year “trying to put a smile on my mother’s face”. There is perhaps no more fitting way to end 2022 than with the coveted BBC trophy.

Seven of Mead’s Lioness teammates won the Team of the Year award, presented by Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan, Alex Scott and Clare Balding.

Jill Scott, freshly crowned queen of the jungle in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, said she hopes the team’s triumph has inspired many girls to ask for football boots this Christmas” and it will be classed as normal” as she accepted their award.

Beth Mead celebrates with her players from the England women's football team as they win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Beth Mead celebrates with her England Women’s Football teammates who won the award as the Lionesses won Team of the Year. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Stokes, who came second, might have made a strong claim to the coveted quarter 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 crowned by England win first round of away Test in Pakistan in 22 years.

Eve Muirhead, who won Olympic gold as women’s curling captain at the Beijing Winter Games, finished third in the competition, which is decided by live public vote from a list selected by a panel of experts.

One of the most emotional moments of the evening came when former England and Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Rob Burrow received a standing ovation as he accepted the Helen Rollason Award for his work to raise awareness of his condition, motor neurone disease.

On stage alongside his wife Lindsey Burrow, the former scrum-half said he was “totally overwhelmed” and had been “inspired to carry on” by his close friend and ex-teammate Kevin Sinfield, who held back tears as he received a special. Reward for his superhuman fundraising efforts.

Sinfield, who raised more than £7million running seven marathons in seven days in 2020 and 300 miles from Edinburgh to Manchester in a week last month, described Burrow as “the most inspiring guy in the UK right now,” adding, “He’s inspired us all to be better friends.”

There had been 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 embarrassed emojis at the decision not to include Fitzpatrick on the shortlist, while two-time World Golf Club Championship winner Ian Poulter described the awards as a “continuing prank and joke”.

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