espnW: England

On Top of the World

May, 27, 2014
May 27
Bristish Polar TeamAP Photo/David CheskinLucy Roberts, Caroline Hamilton, Pam Oliver and Zoe Hudson were given a hero's welcome at London's Heathrow Airport after completing their trek to the North Pole.

On this day in 1997, the first all-woman expedition successfully reached the North Pole. The group, comprised of 20 British women and two professional female guides from the United States and Canada, made the 620-mile trek across pack ice in relay style. The team was split into five groups of four women, and each team completed its designated leg of the six-week journey. Professional guides Matty McNair and Denise Martin made the entire trip. Upon nearing their final destination, the ecstatic last group ran the remaining stretch and planted the British flag into the ground. McNair documented the experience in her 1999 book "On Thin Ice: A Woman's Journey to the North Pole." The history-making trek came 11 years after Ann Bancroft became the first woman to travel across the ice to the North Pole. She and five male teammates successfully achieved the feat in 1986.

Of Royal Importance

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
Queen Elizabeth, Jessica EnnisAP PhotosLewis Whyld/PA WireQueen Elizabeth honored 2012 heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis at a ceremony last year.

Happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth! In honor of Her Royal Highness' 88th birthday, here are five athletes who have received honors at Buckingham Palace in recent years:

1. Jessica Ennis: The 2012 heptathlon gold medalist won over the world with her performance at the London Olympics and was even featured on a British stamp. She received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) from the Queen last year. Ennis called the experience "nerve-racking" and said she couldn't even remember what the Queen said to her immediately after.

2. Nick Faldo: The legendary golfer received a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987 but was bestowed knighthood (KBE) in 2009 from the Queen. He became just the second golfer in history to receive the prestigious honor, after Henry Cotton in 1988. As a result, Faldo is formally referred to as "Sir."

3. Andy Murray: Accepting the honor from Prince William last October because the Queen was physically unable, the 2013 Wimbledon champion received his Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in October of 2013. Murray was famously delayed en route to the ceremony due to a random drug test.

4. Rebecca Adlington: Moments after she became the first British swimmer in 100 years to win two Olympic gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, her teammate Cassie Patten said, "The Queen, if you're watching -- Dame Rebecca Adlington" to the camera. While Patten's demand hasn't yet quite come true, Adlington did receive her OBE in 2009.

5. David Beckham: The soccer superstar received his OBE in 2003 from Her Royal Highness and was named a candidate for knighthood in 2013. He ultimately lost out on the honors but will likely be considered again.