With the new year marking the start of a new decade, who will make a name for themselves in the world of sport in 2020?
From the Women’s Six Nations, to the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia and the summer ahead at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Nicola Kenton looks at ten British females to keep an eye on this year.
Freya Anderson (Swimming)
Back in 2017, Anderson made her senior debut for Great Britain at the World Aquatics Championships and since then, the young swimming sensation’s stock has only risen further.
Despite being only 18 years old, the freestyle specialist has a wealth of experience behind her but the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Glasgow last month was where she really came of age.
Anderson earned her first international individual titles, after timing her races to perfection to clinch double gold in the 100m and 200m freestyle, beating out stalwarts of the sport Federica Pellegrini and Femke Heemskerk.
Translating that stunning short course form to the 50m pool will be key for the teenager with an Olympic year where she can test herself on the biggest stage of all.
Sky Brown (Skateboarding)
It could be a big year for this young star who hopes to show off her skateboarding skills and become one of the youngest athletes to ever compete at the Olympic Games.
Back in September, the 11-year-old claimed a bronze medal at the Park Skateboarding World Championships in Sao Paulo – the two athletes who finished ahead of her on the podium were aged 13 and 17.
Skateboarding, it seems, is a sport for the young and the Olympics will feature it for the first time as men and women compete in street and park in Tokyo.
Brown is continuing to collect points to ensure she qualifies for the Olympic Games and if she does, the then 12-year-old would be the youngest Olympian since Romania’s Carlos Front - who coxed the men’s eight in 1992.
11-year-old skateboarding prodigy Sky Brown moves closer to #Tokyo2020 and turns heads with a heartwarming act of generosity. @skyandocean_ @WorldSkate_news @worldskatesb @TeamGB pic.twitter.com/P70XimNdM8
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) November 18, 2019
Claire Cashmore (Paratriathlon)
Switching sports is not necessarily an easy transition but Claire Cashmore has made light work of her swap.
A Paralympic swimmer who made her debut at Athens 2004, she won medals on the World, European and Paralympic stage culminating in gold as part of the 4x100m 34 points medley relay at Rio 2016.
However, after taking some time out post-Rio, Cashmore decided to give paratriathlon a go and found success reasonably quickly with silver at the 2018 ITU World Championships.
The 31-year-old secured another silver at the 2019 ETU European Championships but upgraded to gold at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final.
Sophie Christiansen (Para-Dressage)
Aiming to be at her fifth Paralympic Games, Christiansen is a legend of para-dressage and a must-watch heading towards Tokyo.
Her first Paralympic medal – a bronze – came way back in Athens and it was followed up by two golds and a silver in Beijing.
But gold was the colour in London and Rio as the para-dressage rider secured her status as the world’s best and came home with three titles from each of those Games.
After not enjoying Rio, the 32-year-old has a new team around her, a new horse and is ready to do her best on the international stage – even if the focus is not all about winning anymore.
Shauna Coxsey (Climbing)
Another sport set to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo will be sport climbing, which will showcase the three disciplines of lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering.
Medals will be awarded to an overall winner in the men’s and women’s events – whoever performs best across all three disciplines will take home the Olympic crown.
Coxsey has strong pedigree in bouldering and claimed back-to-back World Cup titles in 2016 and 2017, while she is also a five-time British champion.
At the World Championships last year, the 26-year-old claimed bronze in the bouldering – her strength – but also picked up bronze in the combined category, highlighting her potential to be a medal contender at the Olympics.
Mallory Franklin (Canoe Slalom)
With Tokyo now just months away, one of the athletes who has already booked their place on the plane to Tokyo is canoeist Franklin.
The 25-year-old was selected to Team GB back in October and will race in the women’s canoe single (C1) class – a discipline making its debut in Japan.
Franklin is Britain’s most successful female paddler becoming world champion in 2017, collecting a record haul of eight individual international medals in 2018 and winning her first individual senior European title and World Cup gold in 2019.
But it will also be a first Olympic appearance for Franklin, who watched the London 2012 Games as a fan and now gets to go for her own piece of glory.
— British Canoeing (@BritishCanoeing) January 1, 2020
Jade Jones (Taekwondo)
Winning gold at London 2012 catapulted Jones into the sporting limelight of Great Britain before she repeated the trick in Rio four years later and, with another Olympic year upon us, the taekwondo star will battle at her third Games.
Back-to-back Olympic victories are hard to come by, but Jones thrives and triumphs in the big arena with the world watching.
The 26-year-old has continued her success in the last Olympic cycle and last year she added the long-awaited missing medal to her CV – World Championship gold, won in front of a home crowd in Manchester.
An Olympic year is a special occasion and after ending her wait for the world title, another Olympic crown will be at the forefront of her mind.
Maria Lyle (Para-Athletics)
Lyle is one of Britain’s young track stars who has performed at the highest level on the biggest stages but to get the Tokyo Paralympics would be quite an achievement.
The pedigree is there – she won double sprint gold at the European Championships in 2014 and 2016, holding the world record and securing medals at the World Championships and Rio Paralympics.
However, the 19-year-old wasn’t enjoying racing and after being diagnosed with anxiety in 2018, she returned to the track rejuvenated for the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships.
The enjoyment returned and Lyle clinched double gold in Dubai. Being happy with her racing is now the key over medals but that might be just the thing to give her the edge in Tokyo.
Leah Williamson (Football)
Arsenal enter 2020 at the top of the Women’s Super League table, seeking successive titles and the only English club left in the women’s Champions League.
It could be a big year for Williamson, having made her senior England debut in 2018 she received the call last summer to be part of the Lionesses squad for the 2019 World Cup where they finished fourth.
Despite not yet being a mainstay of the England side, Williamson is a vital part of the squad and showcased this when she scored the winner against the Czech Republic in November.
With the Lionesses booking a quota place for Team GB for the Tokyo Olympics, there could yet be more domestic and international success for the 22-year-old.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) December 31, 2019
Danielle Wyatt (Cricket)
One of the first major events of the year is the 2020 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in Australia where England were runners-up in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
Wyatt is one of the stars of the England team and proved this once again in December when she scored her first century in a WODI match against Pakistan.
The 28-year-old has showcased her skills all over the world having played in the Big Bash for the Melbourne Renegades and she will feature in the Hundred with Southern Brave.
England have been going through a transitional period over the past year but expect Wyatt to be one of the team’s leading lights both at home and abroad.