Ellesmere Port Olympic star Jo Leedham has been awarded British basketball’s highest accolade for the second tíme.
The 26-year-old former Ellesmere Port Catholic High pupil was named ‘Athlete of the Year’ by British Basketball thanks to her scintillating form during 2013.
Leedham, who captained the Team GB women’s basketball side at the London 2012 Olympics, has proved a huge hit since joining her current club, French side Bourges, in January of last year.
It is the second time that the Chester-born small forward has received the accolade after picking up the same award back in 2009.
Her father, Kim, said her accolade is testament to the sacrifices that she has made and the hard work that has gone in to making her career such as success.
“Over the years Jo has put so much into the sport and, as a parent, it is wonderful to see how well she has done,” said Kim, whose two other daughters, Jennifer and Kirsty, both coach basketball in the USA.
“People think that she (Jo) lives such a charmed and glamorous lifestyle, travelling all over the world.
“While she has seen some wonderful places, it can be a very lonely profession as she is out there on her own and thousands of miles away from her family.”
Leedham, who has also plied her trade in Australia with the Bulleen Boomers, became only the second British player ever to play in the semi-finals of EuroLeague Women while at Bourges, with her form earning her a rookie contract with USA WNBA side the Connecticut Sun.
After just failing to make the cut at the Sun, Leedham rejoined Bourges and helped fire them to the top of their domestic league and into qualification contention from Group A of the EuroLeague competition.
“She has had a wonderful year and we have been lucky enough to see her on a few occasions in some really big games,” said Kim.
“We went to watch her in the EuroLeague game against a Russian side and the place was packed. It was such a buzz to see her playing so well in front of so many people.”
Kim revealed that his daughter was currently nursing a stress fracture in her foot which has sidelined her for the next few weeks.
“It is disappointing for her,” he added.
“She wants to be out playing and contributing to the team.
“When she is back to full fitness she is wanting to kick on and keep playing well.
“Hopefully, more awards will follow.”
And Leedham is the running for another top award having been been nominated for the FIBA Europe Women’s Player Of The Year Award, with results expected later this month.