Best of Young British

New Statesman (1996), July 2, 2001 | Go to article overview

Best of Young British


Who will be shaping the Britain of the future? We've asked panels of five experts in each of the fields of sport, media, politics, literature, arts, business and trouble-making to nominate the young men and women whom they regard as the stars who will make tomorrow's headlines. Here are their choices.

SPORT

AGED 25 OR UNDER

OUR JUDGES:

Keith Blackmore, executive sports editor, the Times. Mark Perryman, author, editor and research fellow in sport and leisure culture at the University of Brighton.

Simon O'Hagan, sports writer and former sports editor, the Independent on Sunday.

Jason Cowley, sports correspondent for the Scandinavian magazine Scanorama.

Robert Winder, cricket writer and New Statesman sports columnist.

Keith Blackmore nominates:

Jonny Wilkinson Rugby Union for England and Newcastle, b. 1979

Some would say he is already the best fly-half in the world (he is certainly the best goal-kicker), but he is getting better all the time. Great talent and a phlegmatic temperament should win over the rest in the years ahead.

Owais Shah cricketer for Middlesex and England, b.1979

First picked for an England A tour when he was 18, he has blossomed for Middlesex this season and made an impressive debut for the full England one-day team in the recent triangular series.

Mark Perryman nominates:

Mark Lewis-Francis athlete, b. 1982

When he won the World Junior Athletics Championships 100m last year, Lewis-Francis had already recorded a world best fora 17-year-old. He sensibly turned down the chance to join the 2000 Sydney Olympic squad in order to develop his junior career.

Ashley Cole footballer for Arsenal and England, b.1980

Cole may be battling for his club place as left-back with the Brazilian international Silvinhio, but he has caught the eye of England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, and has been hugely impressive so far in his two starts for the national side.

Simon O'Hagan nominates:

Michael Owen footballer for Liverpool and England, b. 1980

Extraordinary to think that Michael Owen is still only 21. The boy seemed to grow into a man in the few seconds it took him to split open the Argentinian defence in the 1998 World Cup and score one of the greatest goals in the competition's history. The two goals with which he gave Liverpool a dramatic victory over Arsenal in this year's FA Cup final showed his sense of occasion was intact.

Elena Baltacha tennis player, b.1984

Still only 17, Elena Baltacha reached the national championship semi-finals last year, and made her Wimbledon debut this week. Her coach, Alan Jones, says that Baltacha has the commitment, and the serve, to "go a very long way".

Robert Winder nominates:

Steven Gerrard footballer b.1978

Liverpool's hard-driving young star has a dominating look about him. It's almost like having a German in our midfield.

Justin Rose golfer b.1974

That terrific finish in the British Open might have been beginner's luck, but his subsequent struggle has been a Bunyanesque pilgrimage through the humbling lower regions of golf.

Jason Cowley nominates:

Richard Johnson National Hunt jockey, b.1978

This talented young horseman has emerged as the main contender to the champion jockey Tony McCoy. He was fearless when he rode Looks Like Trouble to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year.

Titus Bramble footballer for Ipswich Town, b.1981

Bramble was outstanding in the Ipswich team, which took everyone by surprise in the Premiership last season. He is a defender with

LITERATURE

AGED 35 OR UNDER

OUR JUDGES:

Andrew Holgate, deputy literary editor, the Sunday Times. Erica Wagner, literary editor, the Times. Jason Cowley, literary editor, the New Statesman. …

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