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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 06:39 GMT
Award winner Zara thanks parents
By Saj Chowdhury
BBC Sport in Birmingham

Zara Phillips with her father
Zara made her own decision to follow in her father's footsteps
Zara Phillips praised her parents for helping her reach the top in equestrianism after picking up the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Phillips added the prize on Sunday to her 2005 European eventing title and 2006 world three-day eventing crown.

She admitted her delight at seeing her name on the same trophy which her mother Princess Anne lifted in 1971 after also becoming European champion.

And she said her father, Captain Mark Phillips, had been "always around".

"My father has been a massive influence on my career," said the 25-year-old of the former Olympic gold medallist.

"He has helped and coached me."

She told BBC Sport: "It's fantastic the public have voted for me, I can't thank them enough. I also have to thank all the other people who helped, especially Catherine who looks after my horse, and of course Toytown."

We've got the Europeans first next year, then I'll focus on the Olympics
Zara Phillips

Phillips and her mother now become the only two members of the same family to have lifted the Sports Personality trophy.

"Looking at the trophy, I'm pretty sure it's the same one my mother won. I can't believe my name's on it along with all those other famous people."

"I'm so surprised to have won. Ours is such a small sport."

Phillips took one third of the entire public vote, with the second and third-placed contenders, golfer Darren Clarke and gymnast Beth Tweddle, earning another third between them.

Pre-event favourite Clarke, who played a part in Europe's Ryder Cup win just weeks after the death of his wife Heather from cancer, secured 21% of the vote, while Tweddle earned 12%.

Phillips seemed stunned to take the award, which she received in front of an audience of 5,000 at Birmingham's NEC, as the ceremony moved out of London for the first time in its 53-year history.

"To win this is absolutely amazing," she said.

606: DEBATE
KD

Phillips said although her mother and father had influenced her, the final decision to follow in their footsteps was left up to her.

"I've always been involved with horses, so I never thought I'm getting into this sport just because of them," she said.

"There was a lot of talk that I had this rebellious streak, but that simply was not true. I've always been allowed to make my own choices."

With the 2008 Olympics less that two years away, Phillips will be considered as one of the hot favourites to land gold for Britain.

But she said the Beijing Games was not yet a concern for her.

"The team will take it year by year. We've got the Europeans first next year, then I'll focus on the Olympics.

"I hope we get more lottery funding as a result of getting this award. It would be great for the sport and make people more aware of it."

SEE ALSO
Phillips wins top BBC Sport award
10 Dec 06 |  Sport Homepage
Sports Personality: The winners
10 Dec 06 |  Sport Homepage
Sports Personality photos
10 Dec 06 |  Sports Personality
New era for Sports Personality
11 Dec 06 |  Sports Personality


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