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Sports Personality 10: Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke is in a league of her own in road cycling but the Olympic prize had eluded her until 2008.

The 25-year-old from Wick finished fifth in Athens but was hot favourite in Beijing to become the first Welsh woman to win Olympic gold since 1912.

Cooke did not disappoint and came up with a superb sprint in the dramatic denouement of the women's road race.

She went on to win add the world title in Italy a month later, with yet another gutsy sprint finish.

Colin Jackson
By Colin Jackson
World 110m hurdles champion

Colin Jackson knows what it takes to reach the top of his sport and has been there to support friend and Welsh compatriot Nicole Cooke.

Here, the two time 110m hurdles world champion, Olympic silver medallist and former world record holder recalls watching Cooke's triumph in Beijing and explains why she deserves the BBC Sports Personality prize.

I've known Nicole for quite a few years now and been following her road cycling career during that time.

I remember the heartache she experienced at the 2004 Athens Olympics when she crashed and missed out on a medal, even though, remarkably she battled back to finish fifth.

It was still a devastating result for her because she went with the sole aim of winning gold and prior to those Games she had already claimed a number of major titles including Commonwealth gold.


We had heart-to-hearts after that blow, you can call it Welsh bonding. I've given her advice, although we both made light of the setbacks. But I did always point out to her that she will get the accolades she wishes for as long as she didn't give up hope.

And fast forward four years from Athens, Nicole finally realised her dream - her first Olympic gold.

I was out in Beijing commentating on the athletics for the BBC, but caught the race on television out there. I was so nervous for her.

For me it was like the 'Kelly Holmes effect', in other words I was with the whole of Britain wanting someone at the top of their sport to actually go and win the grand prize. And like Dame Kelly, Nicole put herself in the mix and stuck at it before that memorable last burst.

She's fully getting the recognition she deserves now, but she has been at the top of her tree for a long time now. We joked with each other, that it's perhaps because we're Welsh.

The other thing about cycling, whether road or track, you have to wait every four years to achieve nationwide recognition. But she was determined to make the most of her opportunity in Beijing and that drive and blessed talent earned her success. So what does she do now? To coin a cliche, the world's her oyster.

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Cooke storms to Olympic gold

The thing about Nicole is that she's a supreme athlete, so it will be interesting to see what she chooses to do in London 2012.

I reckon she might have a go at track cycling - now, that would be interesting to see.

Maybe she'll join Shanaze Reade and have a go at BMX riding - trust me, she's passionate and crazy enough to go for it.

Nicole is a true champion though. To be one, you have to have the ability to push yourself beyond the limits of normal human beings. You need great dedication and it helps if you have a tiny bit of talent.

She is absolutely worthy of her place among the top 10 contenders for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Nicole has been unbelievable in her sport since the turn of the century, but legends know how to peak for the 'big one'.

The Welsh lady is now among them and she would be a very worthy winner of the prestigious BBC title.

Colin Jackson was talking to BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

Stories from Cooke's year:

Sun 14 Dec, 1900 GMT,
BBC One & BBC Radio 5 Live.

see also
Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Adlington
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Ben Ainslie
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Joe Calzaghe
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Nicole Cooke
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Lewis Hamilton
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Chris Hoy
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Andy Murray
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Christine Ohuruogu
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Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Romero
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Bradley Wiggins
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality