Who would you pick as Yorkshire’s No 1 sports performer?

Kevin Sinfield
Kevin Sinfield
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In the world of sport, December is a time for the opening of envelopes, dramatic pauses, and the naming of award winners.

From the glitz of the big television productions to the allocation of the most improved player gong at local sports clubs – it is a time to reflect on the feats achieved as a result of blood, sweat and tears.

Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. (Picture: AP Photo/ITU, Janos Schmidt)

Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. (Picture: AP Photo/ITU, Janos Schmidt)

Today the Yorkshire Post launches its own 2011 Sports Performer of the Year awards and we want you to get involved to decide who deserves the accolade.

Sift through the achievements of the men and women of the Broad Acres and there is a whole host of potential winners from the myriad of sports the county’s stars contest.

A fantastic prize of a night of hospitality at Leeds Rhinos for you and five friends is on offer if you correctly nominate the winner of 2011’s Yorkshire Post Sports Performer of the Year.

The criterion is Yorkshire-born sportsmen and women, or people who play for Yorkshire clubs or live and train in the county, who have achieved significantly over the past 12 months.

England's Tim Bresnan celebrates taking the wicket of India's Sachin Tendulkar just nine runs short of hundreth international hundered during the npower Fourth Test at The Kia Oval, London.

England's Tim Bresnan celebrates taking the wicket of India's Sachin Tendulkar just nine runs short of hundreth international hundered during the npower Fourth Test at The Kia Oval, London.

Our performer of the year will be the one who receives the most nominations from you, our readers. Each nomination counts as a vote.

The 50 names on the left are the ones selected by our team of expert writers, but if you feel there is someone else worthy of mention, then please nominate them.

The closing date is noon on Friday, December 16, and our Yorkshire Sports Performer of the Year, as chosen by you, will be announced in our bumper Christmas Eve edition.

Everyone who nominates the winner will be put into the draw for the top prize of a hospitality night out at the Rhinos.

Sarah Stevenson won the World Championship gold medal in North Korea - 10 years after her first world title.

Sarah Stevenson won the World Championship gold medal in North Korea - 10 years after her first world title.

To help you along with your own selection process, here are a few names to consider.

For starters, what about someone from arguably the best Yorkshire team of 2011, the Leeds Rhinos, who captured a fourth Grand Final title in five years.

Typically, the man who pulled them up by the bootlaces was their captain Kevin Sinfield, one of the great leaders in sport and one of the most nerveless executors of kicks and plays, not just in rugby league, but in the whole of sport.

What about their first-year coach Brian McDermott, who faced a so-called crisis in mid-summer only to take his team to the Challenge Cup final, and then, against all the odds, masterminded their Grand Final run and victory?

Sinfield and McDermott did not do it on their own – consider tipping your hats in the direction of these Rhinos by nominating them: Jamie Peacock, Ryan Hall, Rob Burrow and Danny Buderus.

Of our individual stars, would Jessica Ennis get your vote?

The Sheffield heptathlete may have lost her world title 12 months out from the Olympics, but being second best at her chosen discipline is no mean feat.

Jonny Brownlee is the second best triathlete in the world, and yet not even the best at the gruelling multi-discipline event in his own family. That honour goes to his brother, Alistair, 23, who not only won the World Series this year but also the European title.

But does the fact that Jonny, 21, has closed the gap so quickly, merit his consideration for your Yorkshire sportsperson of the year nomination?

Continuing the theme of world champions, Sheffield is home to squash star Nick Matthew.

The 31-year-old has been world No 1 all year and he augmented that status by becoming the first man to retain the world title in 15 years.

Predominantly a runner-up the rest of the year, he delivered when it mattered.

Doncaster’s Sarah Stevenson became world champion for a second time, no mean accomplishment in the tactical and tense arena of tae kwon do.

But considering she also had to deal with the loss of both parents to illness in the space of just three months in 2011, her achievements are a testament also to her remarkable strength of character.

Another woman who has triumphed in a combat sport in 2011 and will be a name to follow at the Olympics is Leeds boxer Nicola Adams. She hit the headlines in the autumn when she won the European Championships.

Halifax paralympian Hannah Cockroft also won a multitude of medals at the IPC athletics world championships in January.

It has been an indifferent year for many of the region’s top-level golfers but one man had a season to remember – Simon Dyson.

The 33-year-old from Malton was at the sharp end of the action for all four days of July’s Open and then followed that by claiming the fifth and sixth European Tour wins of his career, in Ireland and Holland, results that took him into the world’s top 30 for the first time.

Horse racing has a rich tradition in Yorkshire. So what about these names and deeds for your consideration. Champion jockey Paul Hanagan; Silvestre de Sousa, the man who pushed him all the way; and Graham Lee, who is on the brink of riding his 1,000th National Hunt winner?

Or the trainers, Mark Johnston, for winning the Irish St Leger; Ferdy Murphy, Yorkshire’s most successful Cheltenham trainer; or Mick Easterby, the man behind sprint star Hoof It. And from the world of equestrianism, Oliver Townend and Nicola Wilson had a year to remember.

If the world of darts gets you on the edge of your seat, then what about the endeavours of Dean Winstanley? The player from South Yorkshire reached the final of this year’s BDO World Championship after qualifying for the first time.

From a team perspective, few of us need reminding how barren a year this has been for accolades within Yorkshire.

Save for the dependable Rhinos, we had relegations for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Carnegie rugby union club and Sheffield United, plus play-off final heartache for Huddersfield Town. However, there were some individual performances to applaud among the collective despair.

The Yorkshire cricketer who stands out is Jonny Bairstow. One thousand-plus runs in the Championship and a match-winning innings on his England one-day international debut were both notable efforts.

Beyond Bairstow, there is Joe Root. The 20-year-old from Sheffield notched 900 Championship runs and a maiden Championship century marking him down as a batsman to watch for the future.

One of the great stories of the year was England winning the Ashes Down Under and a key member of that team was Pontefract’s Tim Bresnan.

He took 55 wickets in all forms of cricket last year and played a significant role in helping Andy Flower’s Test team beat the Aussies and then rise to No 1 in the world with victory over India.

Football-wise there has been little to cheer, other than the remarkable run of Huddersfield Town, who set a Football League record of 43 games without defeat in 2011.

Surely they would be a candidate for team of the year, but since we are searching for your sports performer of the year, what about the achievements of manager Lee Clark and the club’s prolific striker Jordan Rhodes in steering the Terriers to such a highly-regarded accomplishment?

Hendre Fourie excelled for club and country, despite Leeds Carnegie’s relegation and Engand’s nightmare World Cup campaign. The South Africa-born, adopted Yorkshireman put in such good performances for Leeds that he was selected by Martin Johnson and helped the national team win the Six Nations. As did Danny Care, the Leeds-born scrum-half, who like Fourie, missed the World Cup – and so did not have his copybook blotted – due to injury.

Other Yorkshiremen who shone were James Milner and Micah Richards, who helped Manchester City win the FA Cup, while Gary Cahill broke into the England team alongside Milner. Overall, though, it was largely a year to forget in the most popular team sports, except of course for those redoubtable Rhinos.

Elsewhere in the world of rugby league, how about Castleford’s Rangi Chase, Wakefield’s Glenn Morrison or Hull FC’s Tom Briscoe?

Also at club level, North American ice hockey star Ben Simon won the Elite League title in his first season as a rookie coach with Sheffield Steelers after inheriting a mess of a situation when he arrived in the UK last September.

So there you have it, a selection of runners and riders.

Some you may agree with, others you will not. There may be a sporting star overlooked on this list that you wish to nominate and thereby vote for. Whoever you choose, whoever has inspired you this year, do not hesitate to get in touch and let us know.

Drum roll, please.