Ennis gets the vote

  • By: Frank Malley, Chief Writer, Press Association Sport
  • Last Updated: December 24 2012, 8:14 GMT

Frank Malley selects Olympic gold-medal winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis as his Sportswoman of 2012.

Ennis: Poster girl for London in the summer
Ennis: Poster girl for London in the summer

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Their faces lit up London buses and famous landmarks and shopping centres the length and breadth of the land.

You really could not move in 2012 without witnessing the sweet smiles of Olympic gold medal heptahlete Jessica Ennis and double gold Paralympics swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

Which is why they are bound to dominate the shortlist in any poll for Sportswoman of the Year.

Ennis, of course, was the poster girl of the London Olympics, the 26-year-old Sheffield lass who exuded wholesome charm but whose competitive nature was forged in the famous steel of her home town.

For two days in London she entranced us with her competitive ability, posting a heptathlon record in the 100m hurdles and winning three of her seven disciplines, culminating in a surge down the home straight in the 800m, the final event, to come home in two minutes 8.65 seconds to post a British record of 6,955 points.

The wall of noise which greeted her was akin to a force of nature, so was the surge of affection when she clambered on to the Olympic podium.

  • A spectacular Opening Ceremony came to a fitting end, as seven young athletes were handed the responsibility of lighting the Olympic Cauldron
  • Archer Im Dong Hyeun of South Korea broke a World Record before the Olympic ceremony had even begun. He is legally blind in one eye
  • Michael Phelps did not quite match his haul in 2008, but the American won his 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Gold Medals to become the greatest Olympian ever
  • Chinese prodigy Ye Shiwen blew away the competition in the pool, overcoming false accusations of foul play to smash the 400m Medley World Record
  • Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins became the most decorated British Olympian of all time as he cruised to Gold in the Time Trial
  • After so many near misses veteran rower Katherine Grainger finally won her first Olympic Gold alongside partner Anna Watkins
  • Zhou Lulu of China shattered the Women's weightlifting World Record by lifting 333kg, more than four times her own bodyweight
  • Cycling great Chris Hoy took up the mantle of Britain's greatest ever Olympian, as he secured his sixth gold medal in the Keirin
  • Victoria Pendleton's loss to Australian rival Anna Mears in the Sprint final proved a poignant moment, as the great cyclist took her final bow
  • Laura Trott however proved that women's cycling in Britain is by no means on the decline, as the 20 year old took double gold in the Velodrome
  • Britain's men's gymnastics team made history, as they became the first Brits for 100 years to win a team gymnastics medal
  • The American Women's team blew away the field in the women's event, with McKayla Maroney and Gabrielle Douglas leading the way
  • Golden Girl Jessica Ennis' Heptathlon win was celebrated the nation over, as she set World Records and Personal Bests on her way to Gold
  • Mo Farah sent the crowd in the Olympic Stadium wild, as his Gold in an enthralling 10k Final capped the most successful day in British Olympic history
  • Usain Bolt silenced any doubters, proving he is the fsastest man ever with convincing wins in the 100 and 200 metres
  • Double amputee Oscar Pistorious of South Africa makes history as he competes in the 400m heats
  • The USA's women's 4x100m team broke one of the longest standing world records, as their time of 40.82 seconds shattered the 1980 record set by East Germany
  • One gold was not enough for Mo, as he became the first Brit to win both the 5000 and 10,000 metres; becoming a national hero
  • Bolt and Blake were on hand to guide the Jamaican men's 4x100m team to another Gold Medal and a World Record time
  • British Super Heavyweight Anthony Joshua announced himself as the new star of World Boxing with a Gold Medal winning performance
Pictures rounding up the greatest moments of a memorable Games; as London 2012 reaches its conclusion

But if Ennis won hearts and minds then 17-year-old Simmonds, too, was sprinkled with stardust in the London Aquatics centre, winning two Paralympic golds plus a silver and a bronze, including a world record in the 400m freestyle, to go with the two golds she also won in Beijing as a 13-year-old.

What is incalculable is the effect Simmonds, who suffers from achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, and her amazing feats have had on the average person's perception of disability.

Suffice to say she is by some distance the most recognisable British Paralympian and that includes the retired Paralympian great Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Ennis and Simmonds would have been bankers for Sportswoman of the Year in any other year. In 2012 they have serious opposition from a list which is in stark contrast to the BBC Sports Personality poll in 2011, whose shortlist did not include a single woman.

How could you leave Sarah Storey out of any poll in 2012? Storey won four gold medals at the London Paralympics in the Individual Pursuit C5, the Time Trial C4-5 500m, the Individual Road Time Trial C5 and the Individual Road Race C4-5 to go with the two gold she won in Beijing.

Okay, cycling does tend to have a multitude of similar events but when you learn Storey has also won five gold, eight silver and three bronze medals at Paralympics as a swimmer you begin to get the feel of a quite extraordinary sporting talent.

The home Olympics, of course, were always going to provide the inspiration for British girl power.

  • Helen Glover and Heather Stanning got the gold rush under way in the women's pair
  • Bradley Wiggins: King of the time trial
  • Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie: Memorable gold in the canoe slalom
  • Moments later Peter Wilson picked up a shooting gold at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
  • Chris Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny won the team sprint in the velodrome
  • Katherine Grainger's wait for Olympic gold ended with Anna Watkins
  • There was team pursuit glory for Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh
  • Victoria Pendleton delighted the velodrome crowd with victory in the keirin
  • Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge triumphed in the men's four
  • Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking 'won the Olympics'
  • A stunning gold for Joanna Rowsell Laura Trott and Dani King in the team pursuit
  • Jessica Ennis lit up the Olympic Stadium with heptathlon gold
  • Moments later Greg Rutherford claimed long jump glory
  • And Mo Farah capped off the first of two 'Super Saturday's' with victory in the 10000m
  • Ben Ainslie won a fourth straight sailing gold medal
  • Andy Murray got his revenge on Roger Federer to claim tennis glory
  • Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles won gold in the showjumping
  • Jason Kenny picked up his second gold of the Games in the sprint
  • Alistair Brownlee was an impressive winner of the triathlon
  • Carl Hester Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin teamed up for victory in the dressage
  • Laura Trott emerged as a cycling star as she won the omnium for her second London 2012 gold
  • Chris Hoy couldn't hold back the tears as he became Britain's most successful Olympian of all time with his sixth career gold - this one in the keirin
  • Charlotte Dujardin stole the dressage show to clinch individual gold
  • Nicola Adams won the hearts of a nation with her big smile and by winning the first women's boxing gold
  • Late on day 13, Jade Jones delighted the crowd with her taekwondo triumph
  • The Usain Bolt of the canoe world - Ed McKeever - stormed to glory in the K1 200m sprint.
  • Mo Farah etched his name into Olympic history by joining the elite group of men to complete the long distance double
  • Luke Campbell gave the men's boxers their first gold of the Games
  • Anthony Joshua won Britain's 29th and final gold of an incredible Olympics with victory in the super-heavyweight final.
All the best pictures of the athletes who won Great Britain's 29 medals at this summer's Olympic Games.

Cycling's Laura Trott, just 20, announced herself as a star of the future, taking gold in the Team Pursuit and the Omnium while Victoria Pendleton bade farewell to the sport in the predictable river of tears with gold and silver.

No prizes for the most dynamic, most effervescent gold of them all. That has to go to Nicola Adams from Leeds who picked up the first women's Olympic boxing gold medal in an atmosphere of pure bedlam.

For tears and emotion it had to be rower Katherine Grainger who at 36 and after three successive silvers finally garnered gold along with Anna Watkins in the Double Sculls. In another year Grainger might win the ultimate accolade for her sheer perseverance but this year left her swamped in an ocean of excellence.

Mentions, too, are merited by tennis players Laura Robson and Heather Watson, Robson winning silver in the mixed doubles along with Andy Murray plus at the 2012 Guangzhou Women's Open becoming the first British woman since Jo Durie, in 1990, to reach a WTA main-tour final. Watson went one better a few days later winning her first WTA singles title with a win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan in the final of the Japan Open to become the first British female to win a WTA singles title since Sara Gomer in 1988.

Yes, the feelgood factor reached seep into the British sporting psyche in 2012.

But when it comes to picking a winner for the Sportswoman of the Year it has to go to a woman whose radiant smile was as ever-present as her competitive nature. A woman who captured the mood of a nation and became the epitome of all that was magical in a glorious summer of sport. It has to be Jessica Ennis.

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