Peaty and Simmonds honoured at SJA Awards

2 Dec 2021

Adam Peaty and Ellie Simmonds were among the winners recognised by the Sports Journalists Association at their annual awards event on Thursday (2nd December). 

Triple Olympic champion Peaty was named the SJA's Sportsman of the Year after another 12 months of breaststroke dominance, while five-time Paralympic gold medallist Simmonds received the National Lottery's Spirit of Sport Award as recognition of her eye-catching performances across 15 years of international para-swimming and her long-lasting impact on the sport. 

For Peaty, it was an "honour" to be picked out as the outstanding British sportsman for 2021, after a vote from more than 700 SJA members.  It has been a year in which he became the first Brit to defend an Olympic title in the pool when he claimed Men's 100m Breaststroke victory at Tokyo 2020, before playing pivotal roles in the world-record-breaking Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay triumph and the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay team that claimed silver. Two months earlier, he completed the 'quadruple quadruple' at the European Championships, once again winning gold across the 50m Breaststroke, 100m Breaststroke, Men's 4x100m Medley Relay and Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay events. 

"I'm so honoured to be awarded this! Joining some of the sporting greats of this country is something I could never imagine, least of all when we have done so well in sport this year too! Thank you!" he said.

Simmonds, meanwhile, was on stage to collect her Spirit of Sport Award. The 27-year-old confirmed her retirement from competition in September, shortly after the end of the Tokyo Paralympic Games - her fourth Paralympics, and an event at which she was one of Paralympics GB flagbearers. 

Ellie Simmonds blocks Tokyo 2020 [Getty].jpg
Tokyo 2020 was Ellie Simmonds' fourth Paralympic Games

Previous to that, she had become a household name in British sport, thanks in part to her haul of eight Paralympic and 17 World Championship medals, but also in the way she helped to raise the profile of para-sport in this country as one of the faces of London 2012. 

"For me, it's been a couple of months since getting back from Tokyo, and I'm trying to process retirement. As an athlete, you look forward to retirement, but actually, the sport is a big part of your life. My first World Championships were in 2006 when I was 12, now I'm 27, it's been my entire life. Now, not having to wake up and go to the pool, I'm still trying to process it," she said.

"There are some amazing memories to look back on. You are so focused on goals as an athlete, you don't really think about the things that you have achieved."

Laura and Jason Kenny, Paralympics GB's wheelchair rugby team and England men's football manager Gareth Southgate were among the other award winners on the day. The JL Manning Award for Outstanding Contribution to Sport, meanwhile, went to Mark England and Penny Briscoe, chefs de mission for Team GB and Paralympics GB respectively.