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Football: Mead sets lofty targets after SPOTY success

England and Arsenal forward Beth Mead made history on Wednesday as she was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2022.

The 27-year-old became the first women's footballer to win the award, as she beat England cricket's Test captain Ben Stokes and Winter Olympics curling champion Eve Muirhead, who finished second and third respectively.

Mead's victory is a milestone in women's sport, and she has already set her sights on bigger targets, including an appearance at the 2023 World Cup with England. 

Seven-time snooker world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, gymnast Jessica Gadirova and 1,500m athletics world champion Jake Wightman were also shortlisted for this year's award.

Mead caps 2022 off in style

Mead will look back on the last 12 months with immense pride, having enjoyed an incredible 12 months.

She was the Player of the Tournament at Euro 2022, while she also finished as the top-scorer on home soil, in the process helping England beat Germany in the final at Wembley to win the Lionesses' first major women's football trophy.

Mead scored six goals and grabbed five assists at Euro 2022, but the personal accolades did not stop there.

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She was also named Arsenal's Player of the Season, came second in the Ballon d'Or Feminin and won the BBC's Women's Footballer of the Year award in 2022.

When asked about her SPOTY success, Mead said: "I'm incredibly honoured to win this award. I wouldn't have done it without the girls. 

"The team have backed me. Yes, I've won this accolade, I've scored a few goals, but I wouldn't have done it without them.

"This is for women's sport and women's sport heading in the right direction. Let's keep pushing girls; let's keep doing the right thing."

Mead targets World Cup return

Sadly for Mead, 2022 has not all gone to plan, as she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Manchester United in November. 

The Gunners went on to lose that contest 3-2, but Mead had successful surgery earlier this month, and she is already on the comeback trail. 

Arsenal have been left reeling after both Mead, and fellow striker Vivianne Miedema, suffered ACL injuries in the last few weeks,. They are now 7/4 to win the Women's Super League Outright, with Chelsea the favourites at 4/9.

The Blues have a three-point cushion over Arsenal after the first 10 matches of the campaign, but they have played one game more than the Gunners this season. 

The ninth edition of the Women's World Cup is due to start in July 2023, with Australia and New Zealand hosting the 32-team tournament.

Mead faces a race against time to feature, but she says she has the support of everyone at Arsenal. 

Discussing her injury, Mead said: "I will do my utmost to get to the World Cup. This is an injury where you can have good and bad days, but I'll be working hard behind the scenes with Arsenal. 

"Recovery from the injury can go from six to nine months, so I will be pushing for the quickest time possible." 

After their victory over Germany in the Euros, England will head Down Under as one of the favourites, but they will still have to overcome the United States, who are the powerful reigning champions. 

Mead's win the icing on the cake for women's sport

Women's football is now as popular as ever in the UK, and it's the likes of Mead that have helped transform the landscape. 

Wednesday's SPOTY awards were a further celebration of the progress of the women's team, with England's Lionesses also named BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year. 

Head coach Sarina Wiegman also won Coach of the Year, and the future looks bright for England, even if Mead has to play a bit-part role in Australia. 

She scored 20 goals in 19 matches for England during the 2021-22 season, and Wiegman will hope she is back to her best as England aim to conquer the world within the next 12 months.

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