In her honour, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is named after Helen Rollason. The legendary TV host was just 46 when she died in 1999, having had a spectacular career ahead of her.
Who was Helen Rollason?
Helen Rollason was a successful sports journalist and television presenter. She covered the 1987 World Student Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, among other events, after beginning her career on the radio.
She was a BBC Sport presenter from 1990 to 1991, and was the first woman to do so. She also hosted Grandstand in 1990. Rollason was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997, which prompted her to establish the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Appeal.
Niki launched a drive to raise £5million for a new cancer ward at the North Middlesex Hospital. She also continued working through her two-year battle with cancer, and a film documenting her story was released.
She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours before she died.
Why is a BBC SPOTY award named in Helen Rollason’s honour?
The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year is an annual award given to a sportsperson who faces adversity and has achieved outstanding success. It is decided by BBC Sport, which presents it during the glitzy ceremony in December.
With her inspiring tenacity and optimism, She set an example for millions of people around the world as she fought leukemia. “I stay working because I love it,” she added. “And on days when I’m busy, I feel best.” Work is far preferable to hanging about at home, in my opinion.
- Who has won the Helen Rollason award?
- 2017 – Bradley Lowery
- 2016 – Ben Smith
- 2015 – Bailey Matthews
- 2014 – Invictus Team
- 2013 – Anne Williams
- 2012 – Martine Wright
- 2011 – Bob Champion
- 2010 – Sir Frank Williams
- 2009 – Major Phil Packer
- 2008 – Alistair Hignell
- 2007 – Oscar Pistorius
- 2006 – Paul Hunter
- 2005 – Geoff Thomas
- 2004 – Kirsty Howard
- 2003 – Michael Watson
- 2002 – Jane Tomlinson
- 2001 – Ellen MacArthur
- 2000 – Tanni Grey-Thompson
Who Has Won The Award?
There has never been a person who has won the Helen Rollason award more than once. Except for Oscar Pistorius in 2007, the prize has only ever gone to people from the British Isles. In 2014, it was presented to 14 different nations that took part in the Invictus Games’ inaugural event. This was Harry Prince’s charity organization dedicated to injured and disabled veterans of war.
The first recipient in 1999 was horse trainer Jenny Pitman, followed by Tanni Grey-Thompson in 2000. In 2003, boxer Michael Watson received the award for completing the London Marathon despite severe brain damage while boxing.
Sir Frank Williams won in 2010, and Bradley Lowery was awarded a posthumous prize in 2017 after his battle with cancer. In 2018, Billy Monger, a young racing driver, took home the award following an accident at Donington Park that resulted in the amputation of his legs.
After brief retirement from cycling, Nick has since returned to racing and television presenting work for Channel 4’s F1 coverage.