After winning half of Britain’s gold medals single-handedly at the European Youth Olympic Festival in July, Shanahan was chosen as one of ten nominees for the annual One-to-Watch Award, selected from around 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports in 2019.
The 15-year-old attended the ceremony at Sea Containers House in central London alongside SportsAid alumni such as Christine Ohuruogu, Leon Taylor and Lutalo Muhammad.
However she just missed out on the award as para-swimming sensation Ellie Challis was named the winner.
And although the night did not end in ultimate success for Shanahan, the swimmer admitted the whole evening had certainly been one to savour.
“I was so proud of myself for making the top ten,” she said.
“I’m honestly so grateful and honoured to be shortlisted because there are so many amazing young athletes out there in this country that SportsAid do support.
“This summer was probably the best of my life and SportsAid funding has honestly helped me so much.
“ To compete at the level I’m at, I have to travel up and down the country most months and that money really helps.”
Launched in 2006, the One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain.
Diving world champion Tom Daley was the inaugural winner, with the likes of Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill, Morgan Lake and now Challis following in his footsteps.
Previous winners have already amassed 43 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.
For Shanahan, the nomination is just the beginning, the swimming star admitting she is determined to follow in her idols’ footsteps in 2020.
“It’s Olympic season so making the 2020 Games in Tokyo will be my main goal,” she said.
“In April, I will be taking part in the Olympic trials in London. I’m really hoping to get in the mix for the Olympic team.
“In five years’ time, I will have more of an opportunity to get to an Olympic Games. One day I want to be winning Olympic medals for Great Britain.”
Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and five-time Paralympic para-equestrian champion Natasha Baker were among the panel of judges casting their eye over the nominees, and Grainger was blown away by the vast array of talent on show.
“The One-to-Watch Award is fabulous because we get to have a look at what the future might hold,” said Katherine.
“I’ve been on the judging panel a few times now and every year it’s so hard. We really struggle to make the decision – they are outstanding athletes who are as young as 13 and have already had international success.
“That confidence that SportsAid gives - and the extra support and recognition - makes a huge difference to the lives of young people at that point of their career. It is quite game-changing for those who have made the top ten.”
SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award was presented at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, in London. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.