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British Army celebrates its sporting prowess

The Army’s top sports personalities gathered to be honoured at the Army Sports Awards 2022 at a glittering gala dinner held amidst the splendour of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst’s Old College dining room. 

Men and women from across the Army's units and regiments have reached new heights in a range of sports including hockey, rugby, judo, boxing and triathlon among others. 

The evening was hosted by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Paul Leighton MBE, Chief of Staff, Army Sport Control Board and Mr Jon Knighton, Sports Editor British Forces Broadcasting. It gave a spectacular opportunity for senior officers and guests to meet the Army sportsmen and women and celebrate the sporting achievements.  

“Regardless of age or stage of career, playing sport makes us all more effective as soldiers and officers, regardless of where you are in life and in your career. We are all naturally competitive and we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t, all of us welcome and rise to a challenge. Sport in the Army is inclusive and forms a significant part of Army life.” Lieutenant General I J Cave CB

Senior officers: Commander Home Command Lieutenant General I J Cave CB, the Defence Services Secretary Major General E Millar MBE DS and General Officer Commanding Regional Command Major General J Swift OBE were among the audience who praised and applauded the athletes as the awards were presented. 

The evening celebrated the achievements in Army sport by celebrating individuals whose performances have been outstanding throughout the last year whether that has been as a participant or an organiser. 

Reflecting on sport in the Army Lieutenant General I J Cave CB said, “Regardless of age or stage of career, playing sport makes us all more effective as soldiers and officers, regardless of where you are in life and in your career.

"We are all naturally competitive and we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t, all of us welcome and rise to a challenge. Sport in the Army is inclusive and forms a significant part of Army life.”

Among the guests were world class athletes including international triathlon star Captain Katrina Matthews and special guest 4 times Olympian bronze medallist, 3 times World Champion and one of British Taekwondo’s most successful athletes Sarah Stevenson Jennings MBE. 

Delighted to receive their awards as winners were: Royal Army Medical Corps physiotherapist Captain Katrina Mathews (31) originally from Exmouth, one of the Army’s Elite Athletes was awarded Sportswoman of the Year said, “I am incredibly proud to represent the Army Medical services and win the award.”

“I am incredibly proud to represent the Army Medical services and win the award”. CAPTAIN KATRINA MATHEWS - ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS PHYSIOTHERAPIST, SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR

Lance Corporal Carnell Brown (28) from Walsall, serves in 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment as a personnel administrator, he was awarded the Sportsman of the Year which was presented to him by Commandant Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Major General Z R Stenning OBE for his extraordinary contribution and commitment to boxing.

Carnell said on receiving the award “I have mixed emotions, being surrounded by so much talent it could have gone either way, there have been amazing achievements from the other nominees”. He added “the coaches don’t get enough credit, it's hard to see how much work they put in in the background along with the event organisers. A massive thanks to the team as well.”

The Army Women’s Hockey Team took Team of the Year; Heidi Jelley who plays on the team, which her wife Helen coaches, on receiving the award said, “from a long list of very good teams, somehow, we have managed to come top but I think it's due to a massive achievement from us all in winning a major civilian tournament which for military teams in hockey is a first ever! so for us it’s a very big achievement as well as all the military competitions that we take part in.” 

When asked how they met Helen said, “we played against each other when we were on under 18’s regional teams, we met again at a charity event and that was us.”

“I’m so grateful, especially with the level of talent that is up here with me, just to get nominated is an honour so congratulations to them as well.” Lance Corporal Terri Stuart, Rising Star of the Year

Rising Star of the Year was presented to Lance Corporal Terri Stuart by Simon Bucks, Chief Executive of British Forces Broadcasting Service for her performances in the boxing ring. She said on receiving the award, “I’m so grateful, especially with the level of talent that is up here with me, just to get nominated is an honour so congratulations to them as well.”

Sports Official of the year was awarded to Corporal Channon Heaney for netball who said, “I’m just overwhelmed, I’m really, really thankful.”

The Lifetime Achievement award was presented by Darrel Amison Director of Army Sport Control Board to Mr Mick Gannon BEM who has been a stalwart within Army boxing since the early 70’s, he said on receiving the award, “It is such an honour.”

Winners of the Major and Minor Units of the Year were 6 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps and 2 Regiment Army Air Corps and the Reserve Unit went to 204 Field Hospital

Sport continues to grow at a grass roots level following the lifting of COVID restrictions and participation is on the increase within Army units and the Army continues to find and develop some precious talent. 

“It is such an honour.” Mr Mick Gannon BEM, The Lifetime Achievement award

Currently the Army have personnel competing in 48 recognised sports, with the Army Sport Control Board voting on new requests on an annual basis. 

The Army currently has 69 personnel on Army Sport Control Board Scholarships, 50 taking part in the  Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and 26 on BAE Systems’ Army Scholarship Scheme.  

With approximately 150 Army personnel competing at national and international levels in competitions including the Commonwealth Games and the Winter Olympics with a further 20 or more on professional contracts with civilian teams, sport really is thriving within the Army. 

The Army is proving to be a rewarding career path for some of the country’s finest sporting talent, part of this is due to the excellent relationships between the Army Sport Control Board, the Elite Athlete Programme, individual sport’s National Governing Bodies, UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.