Sally Conway wins Olympic Athlete of the Year Award 2013

A week after she became -70kg British Champion for the seventh time, Judo’s Sally Conway has now been announced as one of 35 athletes awarded the title of the British Olympic Association (BOA) 2013 Olympic Athlete of the Year.

Recently taking bronze at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Conway continued her medal winning form with a further bronze at the Jeju Grand Prix in Korea, the final event of the 2013 International Judo Federation World Tour. She had started the year with a gold medal at the Samsun Grand Prix and also took top of the podium in Malaga in a European cup.

Conway has already proved herself as one of country’s most tenacious and physical female judoka, with results such as Olympic Test Event silver in 2011 and going on to represent her country at London 2012.

“I really wasn’t expecting this!,” she exclaimed. “I’m very happy to be named Olympic athlete of the year It really is the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

“I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me this year from family, coaches and friends and I am really looking forward to 2014.”

In winning this latest award, she joins the likes of athletics’ Mo Farah and tennis’ Andy Murray and Swimming’s Fran Halshall, who were just some of many more sportsmen and women honoured for their achievements.

The BOA has worked in partnership with the National Governing Bodies to select athletes deserving of recognition for their outstanding performances in 2013.

The Olympic Athlete of the Year Award was introduced by the BOA in 2005 to mark the organisation’s Centenary Anniversary. The BOA invites each of its summer and winter Olympic-sport National Governing Bodies to nominate the top-performing athlete from their sport to receive the honour.

“I would like to congratulate each and every athlete who has been named as the BOA Olympic Athlete of the Year, as well as the performance directors, coaches and National Governing Body personnel who have helped these athletes in making 2013 another successful year,” British Olympic Association Chief Executive Officer Bill Sweeney said.

“I am delighted to see so many athletes of varying experience, across the full spectrum of Olympic sport, building on the momentum of Team GB’s performance at London 2012 by setting new standards of sporting excellence in 2013.

“Over the past year, many of these athletes have achieved a number of record-breaking firsts for British Olympic sport and we were delighted to work with the National Governing Bodies, who have played an integral role in the nomination and selection of their respective athletes, to recognise their achievements this year.”

Words by Donna Richardson. Photo Mike Varey.