We Have Moved: Check out our all-new website!

Perry powers her way back to the top


Some familiar names to our sportswomen awards were amongst our contenders again in October, including Jessica Kürten, winner of one of the richest prizes in her sport at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Cora Staunton, outstanding once again for Carnacon in the club championships, and Maria McCambridge, who produced an exceptional run in the Dublin City marathon.

Another multiple award winner, though, beat off the opposition and in doing so Madeline Perry becomes the only sportswoman to win one of our monthly awards every year since we got under way in 2004.

Reaching the semi-finals of the World Championships in Manchester might have been enough for Perry to clinch the award; getting to the last eight of the Qatar Classic a fortnight later, one of the most prestigious tournaments on the professional squash circuit, would have strengthened her claim, but it is the story behind Perry's displays that made her an easy choice for the panel of judges.

It was just a year ago that the 31-year-old from Banbridge, Co Down, in Italy for training, was knocked unconscious outside a restaurant in Milan, her attacker stealing her handbag and leaving her with a broken temporal bone in her skull and bleeding and bruising to the brain.

When she was finally released from hospital in Milan, Perry had to make it home to Banbridge by land and sea, having been advised not to fly, and was told by a local neurosurgeon that she had been lucky to survive.

Remarkably, just two months later, she won our December award when she made it eight titles in 10 years at the National Championships in Dublin on her return to action - it would probably have been a 10-in-a-row if injuries hadn't forced her out of the 2000 and 2005 events.

However, the prospects of Perry regaining lost ground on the international circuit seemed bleak, not least because she had been advised not to travel by air until she had fully recovered - she was also warned not to drive for six months.

In the November world rankings, though, she had climbed to 11th, on course to regain her place in the top 10.

"It's only over the last couple of months that I've started to feel back to normal," she said.

"What happened last year was pretty traumatic, I nearly died then, and I was told I'd never be able to concentrate.

"Getting up the rankings again is probably more difficult than it was the first time, but this is a fantastic boost."

Grumpier and angrier, perhaps, but indomitable and gutsy as well.