Jessica crowned runner up in BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Tonight (16 December 2012) marked the perfect ending to a spectacular sporting year for University of Sheffield graduate and Olympic champion, Jessica Ennis, as she was crowned runner up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012.

Jessica Ennis

The countless momentous moments created by sporting stars at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as stunning performances in the Tour De France and US Open, meant that all 12 nominees were in with a genuine chance of winning – making this the most closely run contest since the awards began in 1954.

Jessica came second behind Bradley Wiggins after thousands of people took to the phones to vote for their favourite sporting star.

The nation took Jessica to their hearts when she became the poster girl and face of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As Britain's best hope for an athletics gold, the expectation and tension heavily bestowed on Jessica was unprecedented as she took to the starting blocks for the opening event of her heptathlon campaign in front of a 80,000 home crowd.

However the talented 26-year-old, who graduated with a Psychology degree from the University of Sheffield in 2007, thrived under the immense pressure and stormed to Olympic gold in style achieving a huge personal best of 12.54 seconds in the 100m hurdles - the fastest time in heptathlon history, and a tally of 6,995 points - the highest winning total at the Olympics for 20 years.

Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "I think Jessica is an amazing model for our students and sporting students. She overcame lots of issues that she talks about: her motivation, organising her time as a student, the money you need to get through the course, but she did it in a way to perform beyond the bounds of what people could think was possible, and inspire the rest of our students to perform in the way she has."

The inspirational athlete overcame the heartbreak of missing the Beijing 2008 Olympics due to injury to become the country's first heptathlon gold medallist at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, before winning gold again at the European Championships in Barcelona and scooping silver in Daegu in 2011.

Jessica who still lives and trains in Sheffield, received an honorary degree from the University of Sheffield in January 2010 after being awarded the Chancellor's Medal in 2008 in recognition of her exceptionally sporting achievements.

She is also patron of the University's Elite Sports Performance Scheme (ESPS) which was launched in 2010 to provide financial and non-financial support to talented student athletes. 

This year the University launched the first ever Ennis Scholarship to ensure her Olympic legacy continues to inspire the sporting stars of the future and help them to achieve excellence.

The inaugural award was presented to long jump prodigy Jazmin Sawyers, 18, who achieved a silver medal at the Winter Youth Olympics for Bobsleigh and a bronze medal at the World Junior Athletics Championships earlier this year.

Jazmin is now training alongside Jessica Ennis with UK Sports Coach of the Year 2012 and University of Sheffield alumnus Toni Minichiello, and is a medal hopeful for the next Olympics in Rio 2016.

Toni was also nominated for Sports Coach of the Year at tonight's ceremony in recognition of his tremendous efforts in helping Jessica achieve gold.

Dr Philip Harvey, Registrar and Secretary of the University of Sheffield, said: "This is the perfect ending to a phenomenal year for Jessica. Her outstanding achievements are the culmination of many years' hard work and dedication. Jessica is a true inspiration and her Olympic legacy will continue to motivate students to strive for success through the University's Ennis Scholarship."

Additional information

BBC Sports Personality of the Year nominees
Nicola Adams (Boxing)
Ben Ainslie (Sailing)
Jessica Ennis (Athletics)
Mo Farah (Athletics)
Katherine Grainger (Rowing)
Sir Chris Hoy (Cycling)
Rory McIlroy (Golf)
Andy Murray (Tennis)
Ellie Simmonds (Swimming)
Sarah Storey (Cycling)
David Weir (Athletics)
Bradley Wiggins (Cycling)

Elite Sports Performance Scheme
For more information about the scheme visit ESPS

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).

These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For more information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859