Doncaster-born soldier named Army's Sportsman of the Year

A Doncaster soldier has been named as the Army’s Sportsman of the Year for his record-breaking sailing feats.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 10:23 am
Corporal Simon Horsfield, who serves in the 5th Battalion The Rifles, was recognised for his outstanding sporting prowess.

Corporal Simon Horsfield, 44, who serves in the 5th Battalion The Rifles, was recognised for his outstanding sporting prowess in this year’s Army Sports Awards.

The awards were presented at a gala dinner event held within the grandeur of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst’s Indian Army Memorial Room.

The Sportsman of the Year award, presented by Lieutenant General Ian Cave, Commander Home Command, recognised Simon’s success at national level despite the impact of the pandemic.

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The dinghy sailor was crowned champion at the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Sailjuice Winter Sailing Series – a treble never previously achieved in the history of the competition.

Simon said: “I’m so proud. After 21 years in the Army to receive this in my last six months of service is a fitting completion.

“I’ve been sailing for 30 years and it is thanks to the Army that I got back into the sport.”

The prestigious awards night celebrated the achievements of the British Army’s top performing athletes, team players, coaches and sports staff.

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff, said: “Sport is part of the Army’s identity and its lifeblood. It develops character and self-discipline and a competitive spirit.

“You might think I’m talking about sport but we’re an Army: what this really is, is fighting spirit.

"And it’s fighting spirit that makes you winners and it’s the same fighting spirit that turns an Army into a winning Army.”

Simon, who was born in Doncaster and attended Hatfield High School before joining the Army, is now serving in the largest infantry regiment.

His passion for sailing started when he and a school friend decided ‘they wanted to do something new!’.

He sailed nationally for England when he was 17 but didn’t return to the water for seven years until he joined the Army and they gave him a boat.

“The Army Sailing Association have supported me for the last 19 years," said Simon.

“I’m super proud and super happy to finish as Sportsman of the Year.”

Simon has also acted as an ambassador for sailing.

He was nominated as Sailor of the Year 2020 in the British Marine Awards alongside Sir Ben Ainsle.

He also delivers coaching not only to serving personnel and veterans but to local children in Emsworth, Hampshire.

He said: “I do as much coaching as I do racing. As a sportsman I think it is important to share that knowledge with others.

"Of course I want to go out and win but it is equally important to support the people coming through.”

Army sport continues to grow and is proving to be fertile ground for some of the country’s sporting hopefuls. At grassroots level participation is on the increase, while excellent relationships with sporting bodies have helped service men and women gain national level recognition.