World champions Dina Asher-Smith, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jake Wightman are among those overlooked in new year honours
A bit like team selection for major championships or elite athlete lottery funding announcements, the UK honours system sparks celebration and criticism in almost equal measure. For everyone who is recognised with an award, there is often someone who feels left out. If you google the words ‘UK honours’ and ‘snubbed’ there are plenty of examples.
Recent new year honours saw Denise Lewis and Aston Moore rightly recognised by King Charles, for example, but athletics fans are left wondering what some of Britain’s leading current athletes such as Dina Asher-Smith, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jake Wightman – all crowned world champions in the last three years – plus Olympic medallist and multiple European champion Laura Muir have to do in order to get a gong of some kind.
Andy Young, the coach of Muir, spoke out in the Mail this week, saying: “It maybe now is time to point out there is something very structurally wrong with the system.”
Speaking with Muir, Asher-Smith and KJT in mind, he added: “I am not standing here telling you to consider those who have received such honours over the years as undeserving, but if you take a look at the sporting recipients receiving honours over the last decade, you will find countless sportsmen and women who have achieved less than this amazing trio.
“And that would be on a like-for-like basis, not even taking into account that athletics is the most competitive of global sports for women, making what they have achieved even more impressive. So why have they not been awarded the honour like their compatriots from other sports?”
In the latest release of honours, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, Ellen White and Lucy Bronze were all recognised after their role in the Lionesses’ triumph at the UEFA European Women’s Championships.
It’s not just footballers who get the nod over athletes either. Just days after turning 20, Emma Raducanu, who coincidentally went to the same school as Asher-Smith, was given an MBE for services to tennis.
Athletes being snubbed from in the honours system stems back years. After the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, three of Britain’s four gold medallists – Ann Packer, Mary Rand and Lynn Davies, together with GB captain Robbie Brightwell – received an MBE soon after the Games but Ken Matthews, who won 20km race walks gold,…