Carmarthenshire track cyclist Emma Finucane has been named the BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year for 2023.

Emma Finucane, from Carmarthen, started riding when she was eight years old, with her younger sister Rosie at Towy Riders.

After being spotted by the Great Britain Cycling Team, she joined the academy programme in 2018, becoming a junior European champion a year later.

A breakthrough year for Emma, 2023 kicked off with a bang as she took all four women’s sprint titles at the National Track Championships, followed by her first individual Track Nations Cup win in the sprint.

After winning two silver medals at the European Championships, the highlight of her career so far came in August with her first world title at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, becoming only the third ever British female sprint world champion, and the youngest at just 20 years old.

On receiving the BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year award, Finucane said: “This is surreal! I really appreciate that people have appreciated what I’ve done. It’s nice to have a nation behind me, supporting me.

“We are quite a small country but to have that passion behind us and to have them on my sleeve as well is really important.”

The award was decided by an expert panel of judges, chaired by Paralympic great Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who has won the award herself three times.

The panel also included Leshia Hawkins (CEO, Cricket Wales), Laura Kenyon (Assistant Editor, BBC Cymru Wales Sport), Owen Lewis (Director, Sport System, Sport Wales), Sue Butler (Managing Editor, BBC Cymru Wales Sport), Professor Katie Thirlaway (Dean of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University) and Wales netball and football international Nia Jones.

Tanni Grey-Thompson said of Finucane: “She has had amazing performances this year, especially for someone so young.

“Her individual performances are amazing, and when you look back at the history of women’s cycling in the UK, she’s got a huge amount to look up to. And when you look at the impact a small nation like Wales has to this sport, it’s brilliant.”

On the year that Welsh sport has had, she added: “When you see it all written down on paper, every month of the year, there are amazing things happening in Wales.

“BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year is a lovely celebration of Welsh sport, which keeps doing amazingly well. Welsh sport is always punching above its weight.”

Athletes who were highly commended in the decision-making process included Wales football international Sophie Ingle, swimmer Matt Richards, Paralympian Aled Sion Davies, darts player Gerwyn Price and two boxers – Lauren Price and IBF super-featherweight World Champion Joe Cordina.

Emma Finucane now joins a long list of Welsh sporting royalty to have won the award. Previous winners include para-athlete Olivia Breen, who won the award last year, Wales rugby captain Alun Wyn Jones, Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones, boxer Joe Calzaghe, Wales footballer Gareth Bale and cyclist Geraint Thomas, who presented the award to Emma via a video message.