"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."
SJA awards 2011I have been a member of the SJA (Sports Journalists’ Association) for about five years. Membership helps with accreditation at major events. I had attended several lunches with a speaker/interviewee such as Christine Ohuruogo and last month, Tanni Grey-Thompson.
I had never before attended the SJA British Sports Awards lunch. Inevitably one arrives with some trepidation, wondering if one will know anyone. Arriving early I started scanning the seating plan. One of the first people I met was Steven Downes, whom I was able to impress by telling him that I had been reading his book on Usain Bolt on the journey – somebody has to.
The seating plan revealed not only that Solheim Cup captain, Alison Nicholas was attending but also that she was on my table. That was a delight as I have known Ali for 25 years and followed her career closely. She had even brought the Solheim Cup with her!
Jim Rosenthal was MCOthers That I knew included Miriam Wilkens from the British Olympic Association and Clare and Liz, the dynamic duo from UK Athletics – all three have given me a great deal of assistance on many occasions.
Among the significant sportspeople attending were World, Commonwealth and European 400 metres hurdler, Dai Greene, England cricketer Jonathan Trott and coach Andy Flower, rugby’s rugby’s Ieuan Evans and World Cup-winner Lawrence Dallaglio as well as Mark Cavendish who took the top award. While the Solheim Cup team were pipped by the England’s Ashes winning cricketers, table 24 was in the prizes when Ali picked up the The Spirit of Sport Award.
The random moment of the day was meeting Orla Chennaoui from Sky Sports and discovering that she grew up four miles from me!
John Inverdale and rower, Katherine Grainger
Winners:Sarah Stevenson, Mark Cavendish, Barry Newcombe (SJA chairman) and Chrissie Wellington.More more information on the event go to SJA awards 2011 Photos: Steve Rowe/SJA