Riders on track for sportswoman award

  • Eventing superstar Pippa Funnell and paralympic dressage rider Nicola Tustain are among the 10 women shortlisted for the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award.

    Pippa, whose greatest achievement this year has been winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the European Eventing Championships in Punchestown, where she also took the individual bronze medal.

    Pippa says: “It’s a huge honour to be shortlisted for this award and I really don’t put myself on the same level as people like Paula Radcliffe [who is also a nominee]. I’ve had an amazing year and I can’t believe how well all the horses have gone.

    “Anything that helps to increase publicity for equestrian sports, such as this award and the Rolex Grand Slam, is great. Being shortlisted is fantastic for me but it also helps the profile of the sport. If it encourages younger riders by giving them something to aim at, then that’s also a good thing.”

    Winnie Murphy of British Eventing is “obviously thrilled that Pippa has been nominated. We have had a section on our website urging people to nominate her, and we’ll be updating it to make sure she gets as many votes as possible.

    “This nomination is a recognition of the fact that Pippa is in the same league as sportswomen such as Ellen MacArthur, who are household names. It also helps raise the profile of the sport.

    “It’s interesting that The Sunday Times has highlighted that women compete alongside men on equal terms in eventing, as it’s something we tend to take for granted. The equestrian sports are unique in that area.”

    Pippa was also recently named the first HOYS Equestrian of the Year — an annual award, which will be presented to the team or individual who has attained a unique achievement in the equestrian world.

    The second rider on track for the award is Nicola Tustain, who was a member of Britain’s gold-winning team at the fifth Paralympic Dressage World Championships and became the first Paralympic rider to retain the individual world title.

    “We’re delighted that Nicola has been nominated,” says Jo Bagnall of British Dressage. “She is a very deserving nominee. We hope this will help make more people aware of the amazing achievements of the paralympic dressage team.

    “Dressage is unique in that paralympic competitors can also compete successfully against the able-bodied, for example paralympic rider Lee Pearson won an able-bodied class at the Mercedes-Benz National Dressage Championship in September.”

    The results of the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year competition will be announced at the Park Lane Hotel, London, on 26 November. The closing date for the phone vote is midnight on 12 November. Calls are charged at 25p in the UK or 33c in the Republic of Ireland.

    To vote for Pippa (tel: 09013 800 805) from the UK or (tel: 1530 501604) from the Republic of Ireland, then type in “03” when prompted.

    To vote for Nicola (tel: 09013 800 805) from the UK or (tel: 1530 501604) from the Republic of Ireland, then type in “09” when prompted.

    The other nominees are:

    • Karina Bryant – judo
    • Nicola Cooke – cycling
    • Kelly Holmes – athletics
    • Paula Radcliffe – athletics
    • Emma Richards – sailing
    • Katy Sexton – swimming
    • Tanya Streeter – diving
    • Beth Tweddle – gymnastics

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