Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Paralympic SPOTY shortlist: What about para athletes?

Posted on 14 December 2019 by Maitane Alaña Place
Paralympic Athlete of the Year.

By Maitane Alaña and Flavia Festa

BBC will announce its Sports Personality Of The Year (SPOTY) award on December 15. Its shortlist has six athletes sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, cricket Ben Stokes, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton, footballer Raheem Sterling and rugby player Alun Wyn Jones.

The six athletes represent a wide range of sports. Yet, the broadcast giants missed out on shortlisting anyone from a key classification — paralympic sports.

Despite making the country proud by finishing third in this year’s World Paralympic Championship in Dubai, the para athletes failed to get any attention from the BBC jury. 

A BBC Spokesperson told Sports Gazette the shortlist had been thought through.

“In what has been an epic year of sport, many contenders were considered and debated by an expert industry panel, who by consensus agreed on the shortlist.”

Gemma Stevenson, freelance writer for Sky, believes para athletes are often overlooked.

“I think the media is overlooking what these athletes are achieving outside of the Paralympics,” Stevenson said.

“You see Paralympic athletes being nominated in other awards that are given out at the moment. So why not on SPOTY?!”

While strongly condemning BBC’s blind eye on para athletics, Sports Gazette has come up with a list of Para Sports Personalities Of The Year. 

Our six nominees are: 

Maria Lyle (para athletics)

Hannah Cockroft (para athletics)

Andy Lapthorne (wheelchair tennis) 

Alice Tai (para swimming) 

Christopher Skelley (para judo) and 

Great Britain’s wheelchair rugby team. 

Maria Lyle 

After recovering from her depression and anxiety problems, the Scottish sprinter won two gold medals in 100m and 200m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai in November. She was also named the Para Athlete of the Year 2019.

Hannah Cockroft

Cockroft won two gold medals at the World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai this year and now has 12 world titles across various categories. She has more world titles than Usain Bolt, and has set sight on the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. If her form continues, she has a good chance to equal the number of Olympic titles held by Bolt. 

Andy Lapthorne 

British wheelchair tennis player Andy Lapthorne won Wimbledon doubles with Dylan Alcott, thus becoming the first pair to win the wheelchair quad doubles title of the tournament. He also defeated Alcott in US Open final to win the wheelchair quad singles title.

Alice Tai

Alice was awarded Athlete of the Year 2019 and Para Swimmer of the Year 2019 at the British Swimming Awards after she won seven gold medals at the Para Swimming World Championships at the London Aquatic Centre. She beat seven world records in just four days in her S8 races at the World Series in June. Her next target is 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. 

Christopher Skelley

Visually impaired judo athlete Skelley has grabbed one gold, two silver and one bronze this year in different tournaments. With a Tokyo ticket in pocket, he is also ranked world No. 1 in the 100kg category.

GB wheelchair rugby team

Great Britain’s mixed rugby team won silver at the Quad Nations in Leicester and then went on to win gold at the Four Nations in USA beating the home team.