'Bumper crop' vying for sports awards

Thirty-three nominees across three junior categories presented the five-person judging panels with plenty of problems picking the finalists for the Nelson sports awards.

Nelson is renowned for the strength of the achievements of its junior athletes, said Sport Tasman's event manager Rita Merriman.

She said this fact will be highlighted once again at tonight's Nelson sports awards, where 10 junior finalists will be recognised for their outstanding results over the past year.

"Normally three finalists are chosen in each category. However, the calibre of this year's nominees was such that the judging panel found it extremely difficult to select less than four, in the ASB Junior Sportsman of the Year category," said Merriman.

While Merriman was not on the judging panel, she sat in along with general manager Tony Thomas as Sport Tasman's representatives. Thomas was also impressed

"This is what our sports awards are known for, an extremely high level of calibre of finalists in the boys, girls and teams," said Thomas.

"Having four finalists in the sportsmen category is just indicative of the quality."

Thomas said he thought the strength of coaches in the region was the main force behind youth success. He said the coaches also have a wide range of talented youngsters to work with, a reflection of being a generally active region.

He said annual school census information showed that more than 3500 secondary school students represented their schools in sport, a high level of activity.

"The Nelson sports awards are really all about celebrating excellence in performance of our athletes, junior to senior," said Thomas.

"It is to showcase some of the fantastic results that have been achieved by our sportspeople."

The quality of the "bumper crop" this year was reflected by those who missed out as a finalist. This can be extended to all the successful junior athletes and teams from Nelson, many of whom have featured in the College Sport pages. A myriad of national representatives, dual internationals, national and regional champions didn't make the finals but are still recognised as champions by the community.

Sport Tasman wished all the region's athletes continued sporting success, and thanked the New Zealand Community Trust for supporting sport in the region and in particular the awards, Thomas said.

The nominees for the top awards were:

ASB Bank Junior Sportsman of the Year: Chris Brake - Athletics; Ethan Bruce - Motocross; Luken Chamberlain - Netball; Mitchell Hunt - Touch; Mike Lowe - Track and Cross Country; Harry Fergusson - Volleyball.

Sport New Zealand Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Jess Martin - Athletics; Pip Dalley - Athletics; Shannon Perrett - Basketball; Keilamarita Whetu Pouri-Lane - Judo; Ella Marwick - Netball and Touch; Rosa Edwards - Touch; Claire Erasmus - Touch; Nicole Drummond - Touch; Annie Eden - Volleyball; Rosie Bywater - Volleyball.

Nelson Mail Junior Sports Team of the Year: Waimea College Junior Girls Volleyball Team - Volleyball.