SportsAid has revealed the ten athletes on the shortlist for this year’s One-to-Watch Award. The annual award was launched in 2006 and looks to shine a spotlight on the achievements of Britain’s brightest young sporting prospects after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poppy Maskill has shown her ability to race with with world's best this year - bringing back a full set of medals from her World Championship debut in Madeira in June, before the 17-year-old competed at a home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Her superb 2022 has been rewarded with a place in the top ten of SportsAid’s annual One-to-Watch Award, with the prestigious shortlist selected from a raft of 1,000 young athletes supported by the charity across 60 different sports.
“I was very surprised to be nominated. It means a lot.” said Maskill.
The rising star from Middlewich was crowned world champion as part of the British S14 4x100m medley relay squad in June, with individual world silver in the S14 100m backstroke and S14 100m butterfly bronze marking up an impressive first major international championships appearance.
The 17-year-old touched the wall in the backstroke just ahead of Jessica-Jane Applegate, a stalwart of the British team for a decade, who has been her inspiration in the sport. “I was quite shocked to beat Jessica-Jane, actually,” said Poppy, who competes in the S14 intellectually impaired classification.
“She has always performed so well and won medals at the Paralympics, it’s really weird to be on a team with someone I’ve watched on TV so many times. I got the chance to speak to her and she was really nice - we both have dogs so we spoke about that, not swimming!
“My first World Championships was a great experience, it feels different to a normal swimming gala because there are so many different countries there. It feels bigger. I was really happy with my performance.”
Poppy, who trains with Alsager Swimming Club, showed her potential with her first senior gold in February’s World Series event in Aberdeen and did it again in Lignano in March. She revelled in combining with Bethany Firth, Reece Dunn and Scott Quin in winning the world title.
Poppy said: “I haven’t done any relay racing before and it feels different when you’re part of a team. You don’t want to let the team down.”
The teenager then earned a dream selection for Team England at Birmingham 2022 with S14 races included in the limited Games programme for the first time. She might have narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in the 200m freestyle, but cherished the memories of her experience on the big stage.
“It was really cool being there,” she said. “The crowds were so loud every night. I was excited but also very nervous. I learned that it doesn’t make a difference how many people are watching, you have to swim in the same way.”
Poppy already has eyes on another chance to compete on home soil with next year’s World Championships set to be staged in Manchester.
The SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award has aquatics stars Tom Daley (2006) and Ellie Challis (2019) listed among the former recipients of the accolade, with this years top three and winner to be revealed on the 17 November at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event which will shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of Britain’s brightest young prospects.
- Poppy Maskill, 17, from Middlewich – Para-swimming
- Charlotte Jenman, 17, from Dartford – Judo
- Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker, 21, from Grays – Para Athletics
- Gabrielle Holland, 16, from East Grinstead – Modern Pentathlon
- Jayda Pechová, 18, from Fleet – Netball
- Lucy Garlick, 15, from Carshalton – Climbing
- Marcus Chute, 18, from Datchet – Rowing
- Marfa Ekimova, 17, from Welling – Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Mark Swan, 21, from Seaham – Powerlifting
- Yemi Mary John, 19, from Woodford – Athletics
The expert judging panel includes Sarah Winckless MBE (chair), former Chef De Mission for Commonwealth Games England, Ama Agbeze, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Natasha Baker MBE, a six-time Paralympic champion, Nick Hope, an award-winning Olympic and Paralympic broadcaster, and Joslyn Hoyte-Smith of the GB Olympians’ Association, this year
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, in London on Thursday 17 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.