How do you celebrate 10 years of progress, change, research, and evolution in Scottish Women’s Sports?
Dressing up in sparkles, hitting the dancefloor, and handing out some SW/S Awards to the best and brightest in the business, surely.
The culmination of a decade in the making, with everyone from grassroots sports, coaches, media, amateur athletes, governing bodies, volunteers, professional athletes, Olympic, Paralympic, and Commonwealth athletes alike (I think I’ve covered everyone who was there), joined together again at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Glasgow.
Our final two awards celebrated the sportScotland Sports Women of the Year and Ishga Para Athlete of the Year.
Beth Potter took home the 2023 Triathlon World Championship, but it has been suggested that winning Sports Women of the Year at the 10th SW/S Awards meant more to her. As one of Scotland’s brightest stars, she has been the first woman announced to compete in the triathlon event in Paris 2024, this will be her first appearance as a triathlete. Having competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics in athletics. Beth’s parents were in attendance to collect the award for her, as she is getting ready for the winter training sessions she has coming up.
Sammi Kinghorn has had a wild year. Now considered Britain’s fasted wheelchair racer, receiving an MBE, was just the beginning of her achievements this year. Setting PBs in the 200m, 400m, 1500m and Half Marathon. She won gold in the 100m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, plus Silver in the 400m, 800m, and Universal Relay. We managed to catch Sammi’s Mum, Elaine on the dancefloor after the awards and she shared that she was so proud of what her daughter had achieved so far in her career. Seeing her daughter overcome her injury to now be Scotland’s fastest-ever wheelchair racer, makes her so proud.
The night began with a performance of Girl by the choirs from Carrick Academy and Queen Margaret Academy. They were joined by nnn of nnn Pipe Band. The SW/S anthem composed by Sharon Martin was written to create a legacy of affirmation for all women and future generations.
Our first award was Pioneer in Sport, sponsored by Cameron Commercials. And the award went to Eilidh Doyle. As Scotland’s highest-achieving track and field athlete, she’s now helping to encourage more young women to compete and stay in sports as they grow up. An exceptional role model for girls and women alike in Scottish track and field.
The next award was brand new to the lineup – Most Valuable Partnership. This award was to recognise a partnership that was supporting and promoting women’s sports. With the award going to Athlete Focused & UWS, and Glasgow City FC. This partnership was to support female players at Glasgow City FC, by giving UWS Sport Science research students a placement with the team. Made possible by Athlete Focused, it has allowed the students to embark on groundbreaking research on the menstrual cycle that can help football teams like Glasgow City FC to strive for success and equality across the sport. Demonstrated by their win in the 2023 SWPL.
MG’s Sporting Champion went to Nairn Bowling Club, for their valiant effort to bring their club back to life in the small North East town. In eight years the club has turned the club from almost closing to a thriving community hub for its local residents. They have been able to encourage a whole new generation to take up the sport and female membership is at 41 per cent. The impact that The Club has had in their local community is the reason they were chosen as the Sporting Champions 2023.
Frame’s Coach of The Year is one of our most prestigious awards. Because without all the amazing coaches we have here in Scotland, the talent pool of Scottish Athletes wouldn’t be what it is today. Sheila Swan is the head coach of Paralympic British Curling. With her help, the team won bronze at the World Championships. One of our writers Morven Bruce caught up with Sheila before the awards, so if you’d like some more detail about her coaching journey, you can read her post here.
UWS this year sponsored the Volunteer of the Year Award. From people helping at their local clubs to helping to run the Commonwealth Games, Scotland’s sporting stage wouldn’t exist without the work of volunteers like Jackie Smith. As a fellow Aberdeenshire dweller, it was great to see Jackie win this award. The first female chair of Aberdeenshire ClubSport and the chair of Scottish ClubSport, she is instrumental in local clubs succeeding and thriving in rural communities.
Team Scotland’s Team of the Year, was awarded to the lovely ladies in the Over 60’s Master’s Hockey Team. As European Champions (beating England), the award was warmly received by the team, all glittering as they got up on stage. The team who come from all over Scotland are the first Scottish women’s squad to win gold in a major tournament. On accepting the award team captain, Ali MacFarlane shared: “At our age, we’ve all got so much going on, elderly parents, children, some still work, but at the end of the day, we’re all passionate about this sport and to come back as European Champions shows that sports is for everyone, no matter your age.”
Next up, the SW/S Inspiration in Sport went to Ann Budge. Having stepped up to save Hearts of Midlothian FC back in 2013. She set out to have a female-led team that would bring the club into supporter ownership, and of course, she achieved that. In 2021, Hearts FC became the biggest supporter-owned team in the UK. Having revolutionized the team over the past 10 years, Ann inspires us that with a good team and belief in yourself, you can achieve much more than you ever set out to do.
Last but certainly not least was our GRM Young Sports Woman of the Year. Isla Hedley is one of Scotland’s shining future stars in Triathlon. Her SW/S Award will fit in very well on the mantlepiece alongside her medals from the World, European Junior Cross Triathlon Championship, and Junior Championship in the British Triathlon Super Series. Let’s keep an eye out for what will come next for our young winner.
So that’s your rundown on the 10th Annual SW/S Awards.
As any night like this should end, we hit the dancefloor with music from Jubilee until our carriages arrived and whisked us all away, into the cold night.
Thank you to The Radisson Blue for hosting us, and for the support from our sponsors. Ishga not only sponsored our Parathlete of the Year but also supplied a special gift for each of our winners, a jar of their luxury Marine Cream, which if you’re interested in purchasing so you can be just like one of SW/S 2023 Winners, you can find it here.
And our biggest thank you goes to all the finalists and winners. We wouldn’t be what we are without all of you.
Can’t wait to see you next year.