Shining the sporting spotlight on black and ethnic minority athletes sends a positive message to communities according to east London Olympian Christine Ohuruogu.
The former Olympic and world 400m champion launched the Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards at the University of East London’s Sports Dock on Thursday, October 8.
The unveiling of the second event of its kind came against the backdrop of Black History Month.
And while the star – who is a member of Newham and Essex Beagles – admitted it was “unfortunate” to have to single out such competitors on racial grounds, she was full of praise for its aim to recognise sporting excellence.
She said: “It’s a great awards to be a part of and it’s something that’s quite important.
“It’s unfortunate we do need these awards, in a sense, I hope there will be a time people feel included enough that there doesn’t need to be a special award.
“It’s great to celebrate minority athletes as the awards mean such a lot to the community and it goes two ways.
“It’s great to celebrate the individual who has done well but it’s then great for them to go back to their community and tell them they can do sport and do well and they will be recognised for that.
“My younger brother was really inspired by the whole event and just watching someone of that age feel like that made me happy.
“He is still in school but it was important because it showed how the awards can inspire people.”
The presentation ceremony will take place at the J W Marriott Grosvenor House in Park Lane, on Saturday, February 6, and feature sporting celebrities alongside grass roots organisations.
As well as rewarding sporting achievement it aims to increase minority participation, stimulate interest in physical activity and drive change in the sector.
All proceeds from the event – founded by Sporting Equals – will be pumped into a legacy programme.
Nominations have now opened. After a public vote, three nominees will be shortlisted by an independent committee of former athletes and sports partners including Sport England, UK Sport and Youth Sport Trust.
Last year saw cricketer Moeen Ali, gymnast Becky Downie and footballer Chris Powell scoop awards.
There will also be recognition for an individual’s Lifetime Achievement which went to Denise Lewis in February 2015.
“It was lovely to see Denise win her award,” said Christine, who resumed training this week.
“It helps we have experienced stars being recognised for their work and it inspires lots of other people who might not have thought sport was a career.
“Sometimes sport is not seen as a viable way to live a life and its seen that you can’t get much out of doing it, so it’s good to have people who are doing well and they are being honoured.
“It shows sport is worthwhile and you don’t have to do something else.”