Rachael Blackmore makes history as she wins BBC’s World Sport Star award

Irish jockey misses ceremony after delay saw her accept the award at Manchester Airport

Rachael Blackmore became the first Irish person to win the BBC's World Sport Star award at Sunday night's Sports Personality of the Year awards, seeing off competition from some of the biggest names in world sport.

Formula One world title winner Max Verstappen, boxer Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, tennis star Novak Djokovic and sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah were all on the shortlist for the BBC prize.

Blackmore had flown over from Ireland to attend the ceremony in person but was delayed at Manchester Airport.

She told Gabby Logan and Clare Balding in the studio: “I made it as far as Manchester Airport!”

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After being announced as the winner, she said: “The support has been incredible and I got such a kick out of being on that list of nominees. It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s unbelievable.”

Of her achievements in the saddle, Blackmore added: “I never even dreamt they could happen to be honest. It’s far surpassed anything I could have ever imagined. It’s just been an incredible year.

“The reaction has been brilliant, obviously for me personally they are such massive things to achieve but I think when you can bring a bit of joy to other people that makes it even more special.

“The reaction from everyone at home has been incredible and I feel very privileged to have had the year I’ve add.”

Blackmore secured her place in racing history when she became the first woman to be crowned leading jockey at the Cheltenham festival with six winners, which included the Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle.

However, the 32-year-old took her fame, and achievements, to new heights when becoming the first female to win the Grand National on Minella Times in April, garnering international attention in the following days.

Blackmore said: “The Grand National was incredible, I felt I was exactly where I wanted to be [in the race]. I visualised how I’d like things to work out and they seemed to just happen. You need a lot of things to fall into place for that to happen. It was just incredible.”

The BBC award, voted by members of the public in the UK, completed and incredible three days for the 32-year-old from Tipperary as she followed up being named The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year on Friday by also winning the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year on Saturday night.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu capped an extraordinary 2021 by being named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.

The 19-year-old completed a fairytale in New York in September as she became the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament.

She also became the first British woman since Virginia Wade in 1977 to win a Grand Slam, and claimed the title without dropping a set.

Her achievements have made her one of British sport’s biggest stars, and she claimed the prestigious BBC prize ahead of Olympic gold medallists Tom Daley and Adam Peaty.

Tyson Fury, Raheem Sterling and Sarah Storey were the other three individuals shortlisted for the award, with Lewis Hamilton, who came so close to winning a record eighth Formula One title earlier this month, omitted.

Gareth Southgate won the Coach of the Year award after steering the England men’s football team to their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020 in the summer.

They were beaten on penalties by Italy in the final at Wembley, but their achievement was recognised with the Team of the Year accolade.

Skateboarder Sky Brown, 13, won the Young Sports Personality of the Year. She became Britain’s youngest-ever Olympic medallist when she took bronze in the women’s park event.

Scotland and Arsenal Women defender Jennifer Beattie won the Helen Rollason Award.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2020 aged 29 but continued to play for club and country.

Four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles had been named as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner on Saturday evening.