Our Awards

The Annual Champion For Earth Award


Champions for Earth believes that athletes have a uniquely powerful voice, and the potential to play an important role in facing up to the challenge of climate and ecological collapse: helping each other to help everyone. We believe in celebrating those demonstrating bold leadership in this arena.

The Champion for Earth Award is awarded in December, annually for “services to Earth’ i.e. acts of courage, creativity and leadership from the world of sport.


Award for 2023 timed to coincide with Sports Personality of the Year “SPOTY” – 20th December, countdown:

Champion for earth 2022

Innes Fitzgerald - YOUTH CHAMPION FOR EARTH 2022 (Athletics)

At 16 years old (in 2022), athlete Innes FitzGerald is racing to help the planet. The promising long-distance runner has turned down the chance to compete in the World Cross Country Championships. Her reasoning? The contest is in Australia, thousands of miles from her home in Devon. Innes says she cannot justify flying in a climate crisis.

Champion for earth 2022

David WHEELER - Champion for Earth 2022 (Football)

Wycombe Wanderers’ David Wheeler has been appointed by the PFA as its first ever Sustainability Champion. David will work with the footballers’ union to provide opportunities for players to share and discuss ideas around climate action and sustainability initiatives, focusing on personal actions they can take but also on practical steps they can lead on within their clubs and communities.


Champion for earth 2021

james Brown - cycling

Paralympic bronze medal London 2012 (Cycling). A former Paralympic champion who glued himself to the roof of a plane during an Extinction Rebellion protest was sentenced to a year in jail.

Champion for earth 2020 - Joint Award

Hannah Mills - Sailing

MBE Olympic Champion, London 2012 & Rio 2016 (Sailing)
Gave voice to the urgency of climate and ecological crsis, in ways that were widely heard in 2020

Champion for earth 2020 - Joint Award

Jos Hoyte - Athletics

Chair of GB Olympians, GB 400 metres
Gave voice to the urgency of climate and ecological crisis, in ways that were widely heard in 2020

Champion for earth 2019

Helen Glover - Rowing

Olympic Champion, London 2012 & Rio 2016 (Rowing)
While much of the country's pandemic working arrangements involved a desk and laptop, the sports star transformed her garden into a makeshift gym in order to prepare for the Olympics.

Champion for earth 2018

Greta Thunberg - Activism

The world of sport was quiet on the climate crisis in 2018, plenty was spoken on other sustainability issues, eg plastic, but sport was reticent, on CO2. So was the world. In contrast, Greta was batting for the world. And for six!

Champion for earth 2017

Etienne Stott - Canoeing

Olympic champion London 2012 ."What’s next for Champions For Earth?" (Etienne in 2020):  "Well, the team is growing, which is great. Our job is to inspire them to find their voices, to show people what can be done. We would love to see athletes speaking out about the climate emergency, despite the critics and criticisms. We recognize that speaking out is a brave act, but believe that if athletes stand together, they can feel more empowered to use their voices."

Champion for earth 2016

David Katoatau - Weightlifting

David Katoatau danced a joyful playful (but soulful) victory dance after each of his 2016 Olympic lifts, with the aim of raising awareness of the plight of his home nation Kiribati, fast sinking underwater.

Finalists - Champion for Earth 2022

Lewis Pugh – Swimming to COP27
Gary Lineker –  Footballer tweeting support for climate protests
David Wheeler – Outspoken footballer, very sustainability, focused – C4E Winner 2022
Isabella Bertold –  Sailor and cyclist doing great sustainability work
Ade Adepitan – Paralympic, basketball and documentary presenter
Seb Vettel –  Formula One protest support and retirement due to climate
Andy Symonds – Trail runner, who skipped the worlds to avoid flight
David Pocock – Rugby, captain turned politician
Sarah Gibbs – Muay Thai champ saving Rotary Woods
Brendon and Amy Bale –   Vegan Rugby Team Green Gazelles
Innes FitzGerald –  Winner of Youth Champion for Earth 2022

Champion Attributes

  • Each winner is a notable – from the world of sport – who has used their position and their platform:
  • creatively, courageously, with clarity, and with courtesy…
  • to help raise the alarm (and to speak out about the high stakes) of the climate crisis.
  • in pursuit of both climate justice and ecological justice.
  • in a manner that their peers (at the time) were not yet doing.
  • Each successive winner ‘raises the game’ and redefines the possible – for the following year.
  • They do the ‘heavy lifting’
  • The founding members of the core team of Champions for Earth would likely all have been past recipients: 
  • Katie Rood, Melissa Wilson, Laura Baldwin, and some of the original supporters / helpers)


Some sporting role models historically speaking truth to power:


Venus and Serena Williams

Billie Jane King

Muhammad Ali

The Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR)

Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Peter Norman

Dotsie Bauch

Martina Navratilova


All the above legends inspired, informed and ‘imprinted’ the DNA and evolution of C4E.

IF the roots of the climate crisis – an act of slow motion global injustice – and planetary harm

– had been better understood – there can be little doubt these champions of their day would have spoken truth to (fossil fuel) power – and talked sense on climate justice.