“I don’t look like a typical athlete but what my body does is amazing,” the effervescent Campbell said. “I want to prove that it doesn’t matter what you look like, what size you are or how much you weigh if you want to achieve something in sport and you put your mind to it then you can.”
Of all the names on this list of high achievers, Emma Raducanu is undoubtedly the breakout star of the year – if not the century. The 18-year-old was taking her A Levels just before competing in her first Wimbledon. There, she became the youngest British woman to reach the second week. It was a dizzying rise to prominence before, sadly, she was forced to retire with breathing difficulties in her fourth round match against Alja Tomljanovic.
For many athletes, that would be a shuddering, confidence-crushing experience that could severely damage a career. Luckily, Raducanu is not one to look backwards. Come August, she had qualified for the US Open and then, remarkably, blitzed through the opposition to win the whole darned thing. A grand-slam champion at 18 as a qualifier and without dropping a set – it’s the stuff of fairytales.
“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” she said after her US Open win. “Just stay present. Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself.” With the noise and attention that now follows her every step, the ability to focus and stay present may be the key for Raducanu.
We started the Action Woman of the Year Awards on BT Sport in 2013 as a way of celebrating the achievements of women across a range of sports to ensure that they got more recognition. From horse racing to cycling, tennis to weightlifting, the shortlist for 2021 showcases the wonderful diversity and depth of excellence in women’s sport.
Six wonderful women who are all breaking new boundaries, challenging perceptions and setting ever higher standards. The state of women’s sport is pretty healthy – let’s shout about it loudly and proudly.
The BT Sport Action Woman of the Year Awards will be broadcast live on Monday December 6 for anyone to watch on BT Sport, online and on YouTube and Twitter. Voting is now open at btsport.com/actionwoman