Tae kwon do star Sarah is sportswoman of year

Sarah Stevenson pictured with her parents Dianne Stevenson, left, and Roy Stevenson. Picture: Michael Ford.
Sarah Stevenson pictured with her parents Dianne Stevenson, left, and Roy Stevenson. Picture: Michael Ford.

OLYMPIC medallist Sarah Stevenson has been crowned Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year following an emotional few months.

The tae kwon do ace who tragically lost both her parents to cancer within weeks of each other said she was shocked to receive the prestigious accolade.

Sarah said: “I’m more used to handing out these awards, not receiving them.

“I just never expected to win so it’s an amazing honour for me and also for tae kwon do.”

The award follows public outrage after no women made the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 2008 bronze medallist had recently taken time out to care for her parents Diana, 63, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January and died last month, and her father Roy, 63, who died from a brain tumour in July.

But despite dealing with her parents illness, in May Sarah went on to win a gold medal at the World championships - dedicating it to her mum and dad.

The 28-year-old received the prestigious trophy ahead of swimmers, Keri-Anne Payne and Rebecca Adlington plus Hayley Turner, the first woman to win two Grade One races.

Dorothy Tyler, 91, who won the first of her two Olympic high jump silver medals at the 1936 ‘Hitler’ Olympics in Berlin, presented Sarah with her award at the paper’s Wapping headquarters.

It rounded off a memorable day for Sarah who earlier collected the SJA Committee Award from the Sports Journalists’ Association.

“It’s quite apt at the moment that so many great women are being recognised for the effort and hard work they have put in to their sport.

“I am really grateful and this award is for all the women out there who have achieved great things but maybe not have been recognised.”

“I just really appreciate being given this honour,” added Sarah whose trophy was presented in front of an audience including London 2012 chief, Sebastian Coe.

“And to collect it from a lady like Dorothy who competed in an era when sportswomen were treated even less favourably was something I’ll never forget.”

Sarah, who has opted not to compete at the French Open in Paris this weekend, is the 24th recipient of the Sunday Times accolade.

Past champions include Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Victoria Pendleton.

And despite the deaths of parents the former Don Valley pupil is determined to focus on her dream to become Olympic champion in London next year.

“I wouldn’t go there for anything else,” she said. “I will go there to do my very best to get that gold.”