Track cyclist Emma Finucane has clinched the title of BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year for 2023.
Hailing from Carmarthen, Emma embarked on her cycling journey at the age of eight alongside her younger sister Rosie at Towy Riders. Her talent caught the eye of the Great Britain Cycling Team, leading her to join the academy programme in 2018. Just a year later, she secured the title of junior European champion.
The year 2023 marked a pivotal moment in Emma’s career. She started the year triumphantly by claiming all four women’s sprint titles at the National Track Championships, followed by her initial victory in the individual Track Nations Cup sprint. After securing two silver medals at the European Championships, the pinnacle of her achievements came in August with her maiden world title at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. At just 20 years old, she became the third-ever British female sprint world champion and the youngest to achieve this feat.
On receiving the BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year award, Finucane commented: “This is surreal! I really appreciate that people have appreciated what I’ve done. It’s nice to have a nation behind me, supporting me. We are quite a small country but to have that passion behind us and to have them on my sleeve as well is really important.”
The award’s recipient was determined by a panel of experts chaired by Paralympic legend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a three-time winner of the award herself. The panel, including Leshia Hawkins (CEO, Cricket Wales), Laura Kenyon (Assistant Editor, BBC Cymru Wales Sport), Owen Lewis (Director, Sport System, Sport Wales), Sue Butler (Managing Editor, BBC Cymru Wales Sport), Professor Katie Thirlaway (Dean of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University), and Wales netball and football international Nia Jones, selected Finucane as the standout candidate.
Tanni Grey-Thompson says of Finucane, “She has had amazing performances this year, especially for someone so young. Her individual performances are amazing, and when you look back at the history of women’s cycling in the UK, she’s got a huge amount to look up to. And when you look at the impact a small nation like Wales has to this sport, it’s brilliant.”
On the year that Welsh sport has had, she adds, “When you see it all written down on paper, every month of the year, there are amazing things happening in Wales. BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year is a lovely celebration of Welsh sport, which keeps doing amazingly well. Welsh sport is always punching above its weight.”
Noteworthy athletes in the decision-making process who received commendation included Wales football international Sophie Ingle, swimmer Matt Richards, Paralympian Aled Sion Davies, darts player Gerwyn Price, and two boxers – Lauren Price and IBF super-featherweight World Champion Joe Cordina.
Emma Finucane now joins the prestigious list of Welsh sporting legends who have previously claimed the award, such as para-athlete Olivia Breen, Wales rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones, Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones, boxer Joe Calzaghe, Wales footballer Gareth Bale, and cyclist Geraint Thomas. Geraint Thomas presented the award to Emma through a video message.