Rachel Atherton Wins Action Sportsperson of the Year

Feb 14, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
Rachel Atherton continues to gather accolades and has now been awarded Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year to add on top of her perfect season in 2016 and Pinkbike 2016 Athlete of the Year. Rachel was also nominated for this award last year but was unlucky in the end.

The Laureus Awards were created in 2000 as part of Laureus Sport for Good, a movement that uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination, and disadvantage. The first time the award was given Nelson Mandela was the Patron, and he believed passionately in the cause.

Rachel Atherton Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year - Sven Martin Photo

Photo - Sven Martin/Laureus

"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination." – Nelson Mandela

The Actions Sports Award goes to “the sportsman or sportswoman who best demonstrates supreme athletic performance and achievement in action sports in the qualifying year”. Rachel was up against some tough competition with her fellow nominees all boasting amazing progression for their sports in 2016, including Pedro Barros (a Brazillian skaterboarder), surfers John John Florence and Tyler Wright, Chloe Kim (a US snowboarder) and Kelly Sildaru (a freestyle skier). In the end Rachel's perfect season resulted in the panel awarding the Queen of Downhill.

To say the least, Rachel was excited by the news, saying; "I’m overwhelmed to be even mentioned in such a list! And it's great that four out of the six Action Sports nominees are women—how awesome is that! Chloe and Kelly are still in their teens, (it) looks like Action Sports has a lot to look forward to!"

Rachel encouraged the riders to inspect sections of the many tracks at Revolution Bike Park prior to riding allowing line choices to be demonstrated and riding technique to be discussed before setting off for the first run of the day.

Rachel was unable to make the glitz and glam of the ceremony, held in Monaco and hosted by Hugh Grant, as she is busy putting in work at the moment, training for the 2017 season in California.

I was gutted not to be able to make the ceremony; we looked at every available flight, about 100 different sets of scheduling but we just couldn’t make it work.

I can't quite believe this is real and I am so delighted that my success this season and the sport of downhill mountain biking as a whole has been recognised in the wider world of sport. I really thank the Academy members for giving me this honour, it makes it even more special that the award is voted for by the real legends of the sport, all of whom I have admired and been inspired by; every one of them knows exactly how many hours go into finally achieving your goal. What Laureus stands for and the work Laureus does to help young people around the world really means a lot to me, I fully believe that sport changes your life and gives you the tools to overcome anything. Thank you so much Laureus, I will carry this award with pride and I will use it to inspire all the future mountain bikers out there

Nina skills for Rachel Atherton en route to her 12th consecutive World Cup win.

Laureus have been encouraging all aspects of mountain-biking and honoring its stars for some time now and while Rachel is the first mountain-biker to actually lift the Laureus trophy, a quick glance at previous nominations throws up some familiar names including Anne Caro Chausson, Julien Absalon, Danny MacAskill and Darren Berrecloth.

MENTIONS: @trek / @redbullbike

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Member since Jul 22, 2013
3,465 articles

  • 67 3
 Congrats's Rachel! It's been crazy seeing you dominate the podium these last few years.
  • 20 1
 im guessing shes going to add on a few more consecutive wins this year. cliche to say but her biggest competitor is herself. no crashes = she wins. just nuts. will be fun to watch her in 2017 uci!
  • 8 38
flag c0linmetz (Feb 14, 2017 at 14:45) (Below Threshold)
 Shut up sonny
  • 6 0
 @ccolagio: Absolutely! She'll definitely have a target on her back and the women's field keeps getting stronger and stonger! gonna be a wild one for sure!
  • 7 1
 Congrats Rachel! Well deserved!
  • 4 1
 #notmysportspersonoftheyear... Ok, JK, she totally deserves it!
  • 32 7
 Great for her but Claudio said nothing wrong.
  • 2 0
 I'm out of the loop.. What was this in regard to?
  • 23 2
 That's an eclectic group of people to be mentioned with. Berrecloth, Macaskill and Nelson Mandela, congrats Rachel!
  • 54 1
 Freeride Nelson Mandela.
  • 1 7
flag MuddyFoxCourierComp (Feb 14, 2017 at 18:04) (Below Threshold)
 @MMOF: points 1 & 3 were not new and point 2 applies to every damn government.
  • 3 0
 @MMOF: sssssshhhh come! come! don't challenge the rhetoric ,it was so nice and fluffy.hhmmm!
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: you go first.
  • 15 1
 Absolutely deserved! Rachel is one of a kind. A great athlete and role model.
She´s always humble, speaks out against things if something isn´t right, but always keeps it civil and reasonable. She has that aura that just shows how much she loves the sport.
Despite there being so many great riders on the circuit which i really like, Rachel has been my favorite for a long time and despite her being a woman (not meant in a condescending way!) her riding is very inspiring to me as an average male downhiller.
  • 47 31
 Way to go Gee and Dan for getting your little sis where she is today! Smile
  • 16 43
flag jgreermalkin (Feb 14, 2017 at 13:49) (Below Threshold)
  • 23 15
 she got herself there. having strong idols is only a fraction of the puzzle
  • 11 22
flag jack-aldred (Feb 14, 2017 at 13:54) (Below Threshold)
 @jgreermalkin: Are you an actual bell end? Thankfully most of your comments have been deleted Smile
  • 12 10
 @Jack-McLovin: I don't know what a bell end is? And nothing has been deleted. Just speaking my mind here, sorry to offend you.
  • 10 0
 No matter who you are you need to ride with better riders to get faster, guy or girl.
  • 9 0
 I think Gee and Dan play a role in mentoring but Rachel has the talent. She just rocks. She kind of reminds me of the early days of Missy Giove............
  • 14 12
 Rachel got her own d*mn self to where she is now through commitment and hard work. Yes, she has some other UCI pros to train with, but I'm sure a bunch of you have all ridden with pros before and that certainly hasn't gotten any of you guys to a UCI podium now has it? It's unfair for women to work so hard, achieve so much, and still have to prove themselves to a bunch of bros that would rather give credit to any man standing in the background than to give credit to a strong woman.
  • 11 1
 @jgreermalkin: A bellend is the bell-shaped tip of a penis. You're welcome!
  • 2 2
 @KT65: don't you have a protest to attend or some shit?
  • 1 2
 @therealtylerdurden: Yeah, I do because of backwards people like this. Don't you have a protest to attend?
  • 2 0
 Anyone going to ask me if I have a protest to attend?
  • 2 1
 Im offended! Hear meeeeeeee!
  • 2 1
 @KT65: No, because that's not how adults get shit done.
  • 15 3
 Is anyone else getting bored of watching womens Downhill as its only Rachel winning then a battle for second? I think to make it interesting she should race against junior men. Give her some real competition...
  • 4 0
 she should race chainless
  • 5 2
 yes and no - blame the industry for not giving women the support, many big name brands could do with some female team members, but no, even though womens section in MTB is one of the fastest growing markets, its the sponsorship that needs to get its arse in gear and give the support needed for it to thrive - cant create a competition when no one lets you play
  • 1 0
 I would watch that
  • 4 3
 @makdthed: blaming "the industry" is kinda pointless and a bit like a barking dog in a forest. Women's DH just isn't very interesting to watch.
There I said it. Click the down arrow to make me cry myself to sleep
  • 3 1
 @IllestT: Why say that, why desire to be downvoted, makes it seem like you are calling it out for attention - yes, there needs to be more competition, but for that to happen the teams need to man up and invest in female riders for the future, gonna take a little while, but, the female market is huge in MTB and the industry needs to start investing in support and schemes to get young riders in and trained up so we can have a true, level competition
  • 1 0
 @makdthed: loads of people demand "the industry" does this or that. Complete waste of time - is my point.
Petulance is utterly futile
  • 2 0
 @IllestT: I'm not sure 'demand' is the correct word. The Governing bodies needs to do much more as do the manufacturers/sponsors etc. The other riders also need to do more to catch Rachael up and thus make it a more interesting spectacle.

However, the problem runs much deeper than this, you only need to listen to some of the Team Sky interviews and the sexist theme runs deep. It's a society/cultural problem, it is improving (I think) but far too slowly. I'm no feminist by the way (I think that stance can often do more bad than good) though I understand the frustration.

If we attracted more females, the standards would rise and so would the spectacle, surely biking is one of the sports that girls can get pretty close to the boys... much closer than they currently are.
  • 2 0
 @jacobite321: maybe the industry can make women faster too.
  • 1 0
 @jacobite321: saying the industry "needs to do this or that" is a demand. Same thing.
Equally pointless
  • 2 0
 @IllestT: Any industry needs feedback and suggestion, this is how they evolve and hopefully improve. I run a business and it's exactly the same, I encourage client feedback, I admit, a lot of it is useless and misplaced but some of it is very good and gives me a better understanding of what the client wants and thus how I can improve my products. I'm not saying the biking industry is shut of to this process, of course it is not, however, some areas could be improved.

When I go to the local bmx race track the number of girls seems to be much better represented than say the local skatepark, why is that? XC seems to be better represented than downhill..why?I just think more can be done to introduce more people to some amazing sports and potentially improve their quality of life etc

Thing is, if wasn't happily married and in my twenties again, I would love to go downhilling, bmxing or whatever only to find it was full of girls.... utopia ?
  • 2 0
 am always excited for manon, tahnee, tracy, myriam, jill, and now espicially excited for miranda miller to try to step up to rachel's game. but the only bad ass women rocker that had a chance is emmeline ragot. she was worried about getting hurt too much and supposedly retired. then i see in a vitalmtb thread that she is back on mondraker for this year (but, was not mentioned in the pb post about shimano to support mondraker article) just wondering what the real story is cause if anyone can do it, it is emmeline...
  • 2 0
 last year Emmeline made an interview saying that she will be on the mondraker team, but might or might not race WC. They approached her to support her, but she doesn't want to race the WC because of the injuries.
  • 7 0
 Rachel, you're an inspiration to my 7yo girl. She goes to little Bella's Mtb camp here in PA and dreams big dreams on her little bike. Thanks for doing all you do for our amazing sport and for proving that gender is no barrier to anything! Go Rach Racer Go!
  • 11 4
 Shame her own country dosn't reconise her fantastic achievements!
  • 5 2
 we did - the BT Action Sports award was hers this year, forget the BBC sports personality crap - thats for the media hyped tosser of the year, I can live without that crap


and I think she won it a few years back too??
  • 9 2
 Congrats Rachel, this award is well deserved!
  • 6 1
 Well deserved. BBC pay attention you extortionate wasters! Tahnee and Pompon will get closer to Rachel in 2017. It's gonna be awesome.
  • 4 1
 remember she also got the BT Action sports award for 2016 as well


and for all those that are "being funny" with the brothers stuff - let it rest now, aint funny any more, her bros train, she trains, they all train .. DUH!!!
  • 3 1
 Let's face it, she had no competition any more. I don't see the glory in that. Competition and being the best of the best is everything. I will look forward to the neg props and "you're a troll" "you're wrong" comments below.
  • 2 0
 You're right, her only competition was Ragot a few years back. Fact is there's only a handful of girls who can ride a DH at world cup level.
  • 3 0
 Well there is aglory for sure, cant blame her for the lack of competition, but we can blame the industry for not getting on board women's downhill - that's the problem, how many of the big teams support or have female riders that are fully supported by sponsors etc, Tahnee - but only because her dad built a team around her, Manon, who is supported, Tracey, who only just got full support last year, pom, who I think is fully supported? either way its pretty pitiful, cant build a competition if no one is going to help and provide team and support and encouragement
  • 1 0
 @makdthed: Hmm we will see what that future holds. I'm not actually convinced that the other women in her category have the desire and the drive to succeed like she has though. She can only carry on doing what she is doing but the other women need to massively up their game.
  • 1 0
 @Matt76: I am sure they do, Rach is in a great place with their top tier sponsorship for sure, pro trainers, techs and riders on side daily but, remember Tahnee is still young and learning, Manon, she will come back I am sure as will Tracey - they have the desire, but with such a skinny field of top level athletes it seems like the gap is endless - I have higher hopes for a better season this year, especially if Miriam is fit and ready
  • 8 4
 this is nice and all but where's your coverage of gwin's new tire?????????????????
  • 2 0
 Nice one Rachel. Maybe it can stand next to your "Sports Personality Of The Year" award. Congratulations and good luck for the future. You are a beacon for everyone to aspire to, male or female.
  • 3 0
 One of the best seasons of all time one of the best racers of all time. She deserves this and much more well done u future legend.
  • 1 0
 well done Rachel. I cant forget the time at the old rampage site. when your brothers and you where there for the video shoot of w.d.o. just before the rampage started up again, in 08 or? I didn't realy know who you were. you came up to me after practicing superman's on the bottom of the original rampage finals the shoot at the bottom where gee took 2nd, and you told me you were impressed' in some fashion.... that's what has made you a true hero to so many. thanks again.
  • 2 0
 A true hero everyone should be inspired by what she is doing. Sucks that she couldn't attend the ceremony, but even more impressive that she skipped to keep training. Rad.
  • 2 0
 Bravo Rachel!
Saison impressionante, honneurs mérités!
Keep going... for our pleasure.
  • 2 0
 Rachel rides like a girl. I bet you can't keep up. Keep setting the bar High Rachel.
  • 2 0
 Massive congrats! Well deserved!
  • 2 1
 not level mate its tilted down hill
  • 3 2
 holy cow look at dem calves
  • 2 0
 Congrats Rachel!
  • 2 1
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Nicely done, Rachel.
  • 1 1
 bet Gee is pissed.....
  • 1 2
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