Boxing sensation Caroline Dubois, 17, from Chelsea in London, has been named as the winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award at the charity’s annual SportsBall celebration, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, this evening (15 November).
She was presented with the award, previously won by the likes of Tom Daley, Hollie Arnold, Harry Martin and Morgan Lake, by Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford after a sensational year which saw her win women’s -60kg gold at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games, the AIBA Youth World Championships and the EUBC European Youth Continental Championships.
Caroline edged out rower Calvin Tarczy, 18, and track and field athlete Dominic Ogbechie, 16, as they finished in second and third respectively. Caroline, who has been helped by SportsAid through the Backing The Best programme with Sport England since 2017, had originally secured a place on the top 10 shortlist for the second consecutive year alongside Calvin.
"It’s amazing to be named the winner of SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award – it just shows that all the hard work and effort I’ve been putting in is finally paying off,” said Caroline, who is now unbeaten in 35 fights, at London’s Living Room in City Hall. "It’s so amazing and exciting to get the recognition and the appreciation and I’m really, really grateful for it. It means a lot.”
The One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain since its launch in 2006. Previous winners have already amassed 38 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.
"I knew that I had tough opposition and I don’t really know what I was thinking when I was announced as the winner!” added Caroline. “I’m really happy and excited. I’ve had a very hard and busy year. I’ve had three major tournaments and so I’ve been competing and training a lot. It’s incredible to see myself up alongside the likes of Tom Daley and other great athletes."
Caroline, Calvin and Dominic will all be provided with one-year kit support from global sportswear brand Nike thanks to an exciting new partnership with SportsAid. Caroline’s support will be to the value of £5,000 as the winner of the One-to-Watch Award. The support Calvin and Dominic receive will equate to £2,500 each for finishing in the two runners-up positions.
The trio will be invited to Nike HQ in London to meet fellow athletes and staff, and learn how to manage their kit support as they find out more about the brand. With the backing of the GB Olympians’ Association, they will also be presented with a cash boost as Caroline receives £1,000, and Calvin and Dominic are each given £750, to help with their training and competition costs.
SportsAid alumnus Greg was delighted to be able to present the One-to-Watch Award to Caroline at the SportsBall celebration and predicted a bright future for all three finalists. The London 2012 long jump hero, who first received support from the charity in 2003 as a 17 year old, went on to become Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion before retirement.
“Having the honour of handing out SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award is a big deal,” said Greg. “To see these genuine stars of the future is fantastic. We’ve [the country] got incredible young athletes coming through and Caroline is a real superstar. There are hundreds and hundreds of these youngsters who have hopefully been inspired by the last 10 years of British sport.
“We’re now seeing things like the London Olympics coming to fruition, where actually these youngsters remember those moments and wanted to be part of it and we get to honour them tonight. I’m thrilled to be involved with it and looking forward to next year. I’ve only just retired and now I’m doing this side of things – I still feel like I’m the athlete and it’s a lovely, lovely honour.”
Caroline, Calvin and Dominic were selected from around 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports in 2018. Each year, athletes are nominated by their sport’s governing body on the strength of their talent and potential, as well as their recent achievements, before a judging panel identifies the winner from a shortlist of 10.
Calvin recently began studying – and rowing in the men’s eight – at Harvard University. He had chalked up the much-revered schools triple – with victories in the Schools Head, National Schools and Henley Regatta – before he moved to the United States, in addition to gold in the men’s coxless four at the FISA World Rowing Junior Championships for the second year running.
“It’s been so helpful having access to SportsAid because rowing’s a really expensive sport,” said Calvin. “The stars aligned [this year] because for a lot of the events the conditions were perfect for breaking records. Our coach told us to go as hard as we can in the semi-final [at the World Rowing Junior Championships], and we managed to take 11 seconds off the world record.”
Dominic enjoyed a truly exceptional year as he took gold for Great Britain in the high jump at the European Athletics Under-18s Championships. He also set the world age-15 record of 2.22 metres at the England Age Group Indoor Athletics Championships. Dominic, who is a multi-discipline athlete, was also crowned English national champion at Under-17s level in the long jump.
“The Olympics is my biggest long-term goal,” said Dominic. “2020 [Paris] might be too close but definitely the one after that. Next year my main aim would be the European Under-20s. I go up an age category, so the main thing is gaining the experience of competing with seniors. SportsAid have given me massive support and I’m grateful for everything they’ve done.”
The annual SportsBall celebration was attended by over 200 guests, including more than 20 Olympians and Paralympians who previously received SportsAid support, as the charity celebrated the achievements of young athletes throughout the last year while also raising funds to help support the next generation of British sport stars coming through.
Aaliyah Powell, 16, from Huddersfield – taekwondo
Georgia Wilson, 23, from Abergele – para equestrian
Hannah Botterman, 19, from Luton – rugby union
Hannah Moore, 22, from Stalbridge – para triathlon
Harri Jenkins, 22, from Neath – para athletics
Kristal Awuah, 19, from Streatham – athletics
Lucy Turmel, 19, from Swilland – squash
Here’s the list of the previous One-to-Watch Award winners since the charity launched the accolade in 2006....
2006 – Tom Daley (diving)
2007 – Andrew Brown (sailing)
2008 – Hollie Arnold (para athletics)
2009 – Jodie Williams (athletics)
2010 – Harry Martin (hockey)
2011 – Sally Brown (para athletics)
2012 – Courtney Tulloch (gymnastics)
2013 – Amber Hill (shooting)
2014 – Morgan Lake (athletics)
2015 – Emma Wilson (sailing)
2016 – Alex Yee (triathlon)
2017 – Holly Dunford (rowing)
Here’s the criteria for the One-to-Watch Award....
• Must be recommended by their sport’s national governing body.
• Must be one of the 1,000+ British athletes supported by SportsAid this year.
• Excellence in results at the international level.
• Excellence in results at the domestic level.
• British/European/world rankings.
• Membership of national squads/teams.
• Age group status, standing and years left.
• Commitment, dedication, promise (comments received from their sport’s National Governing Body).
• Likelihood to improve in following years – performance and ranking.
Here’s the judging panel for the One-to-Watch Award....
• Chaired by Sarah Winckless MBE (Chef De Mission, Commonwealth Games England)
• Dame Katherine Grainger (Chair, UK Sport)
• Natasha Baker MBE (current Paralympic equestrian athlete)
• Matt Slater (Chief Sports Reporter, Press Association)
• Joslyn Hoyte-Smith (Chair, GB Olympians’ Association)
• Ian Braid (Managing Director, DOCIAsport)
• Laura Eddie (National Awards Manager, SportsAid)