Marathon legend receives Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award from the British Athletics Writers’ Association while Jemma Reekie and Jake Wightman are named athletes of the year
Few athletes are as admired and respected as Ron Hill. In addition to winning European, Commonwealth and Boston marathon titles, he created a best-selling clothing brand and maintained a legendary daily running streak.
Now the British Athletics Writers’ Association (BAWA) has recognised his achievements by naming him as the latest recipient of the Vikki Orvice Inspiration Award.
Now 82, Hill did not miss a single day of running for more than 52 years – from December 1964 to January 2017 – and his many results included front-running a 2:09:28 marathon time on a hilly course in Edinburgh half a century ago.
READ MORE: The remarkable Ron Hill
The 58th annual BAWA awards were presented online this year and Scottish runners Jake Wightman and Jemma Reekie took the athletes of the year honours.
In a year decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Wightman moved to No.2 on the UK all-time rankings with 3:29.47 in Monaco in August, whereas he also posted an 800m PB of 1:44.18.
Those achievements saw him earn enough votes to beat sprint hurdler Andrew Pozzi into second place and distance runner Mo Farah into third to claim the John Rodda Award for Male British Athlete of the Year.
“It’s a great honour especially in a year where we didn’t think there were going to be enough performances to give any kind of awards out,” Wightman, 26, said. “To be given this isn’t something I expected back in March when it didn’t look like anything would happen.
“It’s a real shame the Olympics didn’t happen this year but we all have to pick ourselves up and get ready for next year. I hope we’re going to see a brilliant Games and some great performances from British athletes.”
In the space of one astonishing February fortnight, Reekie set British indoor 800m, 1500m and mile records. Her indoor 800m mark of 1:57.91 was the fastest indoor time in the world since 2006 and she later set an 800m outdoor PB to top this year’s British outdoor rankings.
In these BAWA awards Reekie finished ahead of training partner Laura Muir, who came second, and Laura Weightman, in third, to win the Cliff Temple Award for Female British Athlete of the Year.
“Thank you for all the support,” said the 22-year-old from her training camp in South Africa. “It’s been great this year. I had such a difficult year so it’s nice to win the award. I’m happy I even got to race this year and for all of them to be pretty good. I’m delighted to have won and happy for the support and the support next year as well.
“I think I’ve got a lot to improve on and I can work on and I just push myself every year even harder and keep improving from that.”
Max Burgin improved his own British under-20 800m record with 1:44.75 to win the Jim Coote Memorial Award for Junior Male for the second successive year.
“It’s been a strange season,” said Burgin, 18. “Not too many races, but luckily I was able to make at least one of the races I did count with a big PB that I was very happy with.”
The Lillian Board Memorial Award for Junior Female went to fellow middle-distance runner Keely Hodgkinson, who claimed senior British 800m titles indoors and outdoors.
The 18-year-old (below) said: “Thank you to all the people who voted for me in what has been a really uncertain and crazy year. It’s been really nice to get my achievements recognised.”
December 26, incidentally, marks exactly 50 years since the death of Board. At the age of just 22 she died from cancer shortly after winning Olympic 400m silver in 1968 and European 800m and 4x400m golds in 1969.
The prestigious Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics was given to former UK Athletics major events director Cherry Alexander, who left the governing body after 29 years.
“The Pickering name in our sport conjures up commitment, professionalism and prestige,” said Alexander. “I’ve seen at face value the help, support and empathy they have shown to athletes over many years and I’ve been fortunate to work closely with Shaun [Ron’s son].
“I feel very humbled to have my name associated with this award. I still can’t take the smile off my face – I’m absolutely delighted.”
A lack of opportunities for para athletes to compete in 2020 meant no para awards were given out.