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Zara Phillips crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year
London, England

Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Zara Philips (GBR), winner of the individual gold and team silver at the 2006 FEI WEG
Zara Phillips (GBR), current Individual Eventing European and World Champion, was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2006 by the British public. With 32.5% of the 680.000 votes cast by telephone or text messages during a two-hour live show, Zara was clearly the viewers' favourite beating golfer Darren Clarke (21 %) and gymnast Beth Tweddle (12.5%).

"I'm actually shaking. I wasn't expecting it at all," a very emotional Zara told the audience. "Thank you to all the voters, it's fantastic to be here with all these sportspeople. I'm in awe of everyone."

Zara Phillips is only the third equestrian to receive this most coveted award since its creation in 1954. She joins show jumper David Broome, who was BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1960, and her mother HRH The Princess Royal, who won the award in 1971. This is the first time that two members of the same family have won the prestigious title.

Zara Phillips was educated at Port Regis Prep School in Dorset and at Gordonstoun, Scotland. Upon graduating from high school, she took a year out from education, spending time in New Zealand and Australia where she worked as, amongst other things, a stagehand on an Australian production of The King and I. Upon her return to the United Kingdom, she enrolled at the University of Exeter and went on to qualify as an equine physiotherapist.

Following a successful career in Young Riders, which included an Individual silver medal in the 2002 FEI European Young Riders Championship, Zara Phillips established herself at senior level in 2003 by finishing second at CCI 4* Burghley (GBR), which was a remarkable display from the then 22-year old in her first attempt at four-star level. In June 2005, Zara put on a great performance at the newly upgraded CCI 4* in Luhmuhlen (GER). She earned selection, originally as an individual and later as a member of the British team, for the FEI European Eventing Championship at Blenheim (GBR). Showing composure beyond her years, Zara rode into the history by taking two gold medals. At the young age of 25, Zara Phillips becomes only the third Eventing rider in history to hold the World and European titles at the same time.

In addition to her skills as a horsewoman, she attends various events for charity and has taken to supporting certain causes herself, mainly for spinal injuries, equestrian charities and children's causes. In 2005, she auctioned off one of her evening gowns (worn at the London premiere of the film Seabiscuit) to help with tsunami relief. From 1998 to 2005 she served as the president of Club 16-24, the subscription membership group of Cheltenham Racecourse for the stated age range. Zara is linked to INSPIRE, a medical research charity helping to improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries, and Sargent Cancer Care for Children, UK's leading children's cancer charity. She also appears at events for The Cauldwell Charitable Trust, which is targeted at children with special needs, disabilities and serious illnesses. Zara has continued her family's long patronage of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.

"There is no doubt that the award was richly deserved," FEI President Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein declared. "Zara's achievements in Aachen this summer were remarkable in any circumstances. I was then and remain now highly impressed not only by her obvious sporting ability but also by her competitive spirit. We are thrilled to have such an exceptional personality as an ambassador for our sport."  

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