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Other Sports - 08. December 2011.

Sarah Stevenson double blow for girl power

"I'M more used to handing out these awards, not receiving them," beamed Sarah Stevenson after becoming the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year 2011.

"I just never expected to win so it's an amazing honour for me and also for taekwondo," added the -67 kg world champion.

"It was such a quality shortlist with two other world champions and a brilliant jockey."

Indeed, the 28-year-old from Doncaster received the prestigious trophy ahead`of swimmers, Keri-anne Payne and Rebecca Adlington plus Hayley Turner, the first woman to win two Grade One races..

Remarkable Dorothy Tyler, 91, who won the first of her two Olympic high jump silver medals at the 1936 'Hitler' Olympics in Berlin, presented Sarah with her award at the paper's Wapping headquarters.

It rounded off a memorable day for the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist who earlier collected an award from the Sports Journalists' Association in front of 400 diners at the Great Connaught Rooms, Covent Gardens.

She won the SJA Committee Award while Adlington, the World 800 metres freestyle champion, took the main female prize,

"It's quite apt at the moment that so many great women are being recognised for the effort and hard work they have put in to their sport," said Manchester based Stevenson.

"I am really grateful and this award is for all the women out there who have achieved great things but maybe not have been recognised."

Indeed, the lack of women on the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was a familiar theme throughout a hectic day for Stevenson.

"I just really appreciate being given this honour," added Sarah whose trophy was presented in front of an audience including London 2012 chief, Sebastian Coe.

"And to collect it from a lady like Dorothy who competed in an era when sportswomen were treated even less favourably was something I'll never forget."

Stevenson, who has opted not to compete at the French Open in Paris this weekend, is the 24th recipient of the Sunday Times accolade.

Past champions include Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Victoria Pendleton.

It ends a year of devastating heartbreak for Sarah on a positive and optimistic note.

And despite the deaths through cancer of parents, Roy and Diana, she is determined to focus on her dream to become Olympic champion in London next year.

"I wouldn't go there for anything else," she said. "I will go there to do my very best to get that gold."

GB Academy team mate Jade Jones was nominated in the Young Sportsman of the Year category for her World Championship silver medal success and British Open victory.

However, the honour went to 17-year-old Leicester cyclist, Lucy Garner, Britain's junior world road race`champion.



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