The student sportswriting competition was launched in 2012 in memory of the former sports editor of The Daily Telegraph, David Welch. A huge fan of fine writing, who prospered the careers of many of sports media’s best-known journalists and broadcasters, from Sir Michael Parkinson to Paul Hayward, David Welch ran the Telegraph sports desk for 15 years with an adventurous spirit and ground-breaking results.

In honour of those exceptional, award-winning years, this competition is dedicated to uncovering the next generation of brilliant writers who understand that coverage of sport – both in its breadth and detail – can encompass everything from comedy to tragedy to trenchant opinion, colour and illuminating thought.

A devoted follower of horse racing, David famously predicted that Snow Knight would win the 1974 Derby at 50-1 to the enrichment of the punters who read his column in the Leicester Mercury. This competition does not demand prescience on the same grand scale, but the judges would love to read a glorious variety of work from all corners of the sporting world. Berate Jose Mourinho if you must – but remember other rich seams of material exist away from football. These could include off-beat, investigative work as well as action.  All sporting endeavour welcome from action and adventure to anything on the outer fringes that takes your fancy.

The judges of the David Welch Student Sportswriter of the Year Awards 2017 are pleased to announce the three writers who have emerged from the shortlist and their entries are published here. These three contenders will be invited to the Sports Journalists’ Awards Dinner in London on Monday, February 27 when the winner will be announced and presented with the trophy. 

Very many thanks to my fellow judges: Emma Wiggs, Para Canoe Gold Medallist Rio 2016; Award-winning journalist Paul Hayward, of The Daily Telegraph; Ian Marshall, Editorial Director, Non-Fiction at publishers Simon & Schuster UK; and Jessica Welch, media and entertainment disputes lawyer at Simkins LLP.

The competition will open again at New Year 2018.


A few words from our previous winners:

TEDDY CUTLER – Winner, 2014

Being named David Welch Student Sportswriter of the Year was pretty much the catalyst for everything I have been able to do since in my career. It got me work experience at the Times, who then gave me work. I have now moved on to Newsweek where I am sports reporter – a path which simply would not have been possible without the cachet the award brings.

AMY LOFTHOUSE – Highly Commended, 2012

The David Welch competition gave my career a real kick-start. Knowing that my work was good enough gave me the confidence to continue in this career path. The sports industry is hard and knowing that my peers had confidence in me and my ability was a great support to me. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that the David Welch Award offered me. It gave me the confidence to follow what I wanted to do, and the career I have now is a testament to that.

James Gheerbrant – Winner 2013

For any aspiring journalist, the most valuable and coveted thing is the chance to bring your writing to the attention of the people who matter. There cannot be many better opportunities than the David Welch Award. For me, the chance to have my work appraised by some of the most influential people in sportswriting – and to attend the main industry awards – has been an invaluable door-opener in an industry that can seem daunting and impenetrable.

Firing off work experience requests can be a fruitless and frustrating experience, but the David Welch Award changed that at a stroke. Not only did I get a week’s work experience at the Telegraph as part of the prize – and it couldn’t have been further from photocopying and coffee-making: I attended matches and press conferences and had several bylines in the Sport supplement – I also got work experience placements at three other newspapers from contacts I made at the SJA Awards. Work experience turned into shifts at the Times, and from those shifts came the opportunity to write several articles, for which (in part) I was lucky enough to win Young Sportswriter of the Year last year.

I can honestly say that the David Welch competition was the launchpad for these opportunities. I would encourage anyone who is interested in sports journalism to enter. Good luck!

David Welch ran the sports pages of The Daily Telegraph for 20 years until 2005 and was an extraordinarily innovative editor who believed in the promotion of young talent.

He nurtured the careers of many of Britain’s best-known sportswriters including Sir Michael Parkinson, Paul Hayward, Henry Winter, Sam Wallace and went on to found David Welch Management which supported many of the all-time greats: from Hugh McIlvanney OBE to James Lawton.

The competition is designed to continue in that great tradition.