Meadow already outstanding in her own field but June proves to be a bit special
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE MONTH STEPHANIE MEADOW:IT WAS already proving to be a successful summer for 20-year-old Alabama University student Stephanie Meadow, the Jordanstown native helping her college win the US national golf championship. But that was only the beginning.
As Alabama head coach Mic Potter put it, “it doesn’t get any better than an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Championship, winning the clinching point in the Curtis Cup and winning the British Amateur”.
In the space of a few weeks Meadow enjoyed an outstanding streak of success, playing a major role in the British and Irish team’s Curtis Cup triumph and then becoming the first Irish player to win the British Open Amateur title since Lilian Behan in 1985 when she beat Spain’s Rocio Sanchez Lobato at Carnoustie.
After losing her first match of the Curtis Cup, Meadow had three wins in a row, to rack up the joint highest points tally by a member of the home team.
The last of those points sealed the comeback victory – Britain and Ireland needed five of the eight points on offer in the final day’s singles – Meadow coming home in four under par to beat Amy Anderson 4 and 2 and, secure the cup by 10½ points to 9½.
She carried that form in to the British Open Amateur Championship, beating Amy Boulden (Wales), Nathalie Mansson (Sweden), Emily Taylor (England), Ariane Provot (France) and England’s Georgia Hall to reach the final.
Representing her home club of Royal Portrush, Meadow got off to a dream start, winning three of the first four holes against Sanchez Lobato. She clinched the title on the 15th, a half enough to give her a 4 and 3 victory.
Meadow’s success saw her rise from 20th to 13th in the world amateur rankings, one spot ahead of Leona Maguire, making her the third highest ranked European in the world. Her victory also earned her a place in the British Open at Hoylake in September.
At just 14 she won the 2006 Irish Girls Close Championship and moved to America in the same year with her parents to attend the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy. Meadow is no stranger to success, but even by her standards, June was a bit special.
This year’s awards cover December 2011 to November 2012:
December: Fionnuala Britton (Athletics). Emulated Catherina McKiernan’s 1994 European Cross Country Championship success by winning gold in Slovenia.
January: Jessica Kurten (Equestrian). After a difficult year, when she lost her most experienced horses following a dispute with their owner, Kurten had her first major Grand Prix victory in 12 months.
February: Fiona Coghlan (Rugby). Captained Ireland to their most impressive Six Nations’ campaign yet, the team comfortably beating Wales, Italy and Scotland, only losing by a point away to France and holding England level at half-time in their Triple Crown match before the champions pulled away in the second half.
March: Audrey O’Flynn (Hockey). A member of the Irish team that reached the final of their Olympic qualifier in Belgium, where they lost to the hosts, her eighth goals in five matches making her the tournament top scorer.
April: Katie Walsh (Horse racing). With some assistance from Seabass, trained by her father Ted, Walsh became the highest-placed female jockey in the history of the English Grand National when she finished third.
May: Katie Taylor (Boxing). Won her fourth successive World Championship title in China (also taking the Best Boxer award), securing herself top seeding in the lightweight division at the Olympics and a bye in to the quarter-finals.