Quartet take top award
A group of world-class Nelson adventure racers have assumed their place among the region's sporting elite.
Team Seagate received the top honours at last night's annual Nelson sports awards.
The team of captain Nathan Fa'avae, Trevor Voyce, Sophie Hart and Christchurch-based Chris Forne picked up the More FM sports team and overall New Zealand Community Trust Nelson sportsperson awards in recognition of their triumphant 125hr 40min journey from L'Argentiere-la-Bessee in the heart of the Ecrins National Park in the French Alps to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, about 500km away on the Mediterranean coast.
Team Seagate had prepared for September's Raid In France with wins in the Tierra Viva race in Patagonia, the Godzone Adventure race in the South Island, and the Ordos Adventure Challenge in China.
Their French success also provided the team with a satisfying sense of closure after a costly time penalty for misplacing a GPS tracker, coupled with some frustrating mechanical problems with their bikes, saw them slip from first place to third overall at the previous year's world championship event in Tasmania.
In last night's other main awards, Mika Vukona's conspicuous efforts as part of the Tall Blacks, the Nelson Giants and the Australian National Basketball League title-winning New Zealand Breakers teams earned him the Nelson Pine Industries sportsman award. Vukona is also the current Tall Blacks captain.
Lawn bowler Jo Edwards received the Westpac sportswoman award.
Now ranked as the world's top women's bowler, Edwards was crowned the 2011 world champion of champions singles champion ahead of receiving the Oscar of World Bowls award. She was runner-up at the World Cup singles championships but won the pairs and fours titles at the Asia Pacific championships.
Edwards was also part of the Nelson women's team that won the Lion Foundation national intercentre title in March. She is currently competing at the world championships in Adelaide.
Takaka motocross rider Hamish Harwood won the ASB junior sportsman title after a busy international campaign that saw him finish 10th at the FIM junior MX world championships in Bulgaria and 20th at the Maxxis ACU British motocross championships. He was also the fifth-placed under-21 rider and sixth overall at the New Zealand senior championships.
The Sport New Zealand junior sportswoman award went to Young Football Ferns defender Emily Jensen for her part in the New Zealand under-17 women's team's campaign at the under-17 world cup in Azerbaijan. Jensen appeared in eight matches and scored one goal.
She previously represented New Zealand at the under-17 Oceania championships, where the team recorded three straight wins over the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, and in two internationals against Argentina.
Waimea College's under-16 double sculls rowing team of Sam Johnston and Sean Ducray picked up the Nelson Mail junior sports team award following gold medals in the New Zealand secondary schools under-16 and South Island secondary schools under-16 and under-17 double sculls finals.
Colin Redpath received the Canterbury Community Trust coach's award after helping to guide the Nelson Pines men's volleyball team to this year's national club championship title in Nelson. The Pines also won the South Island national qualifying tournament and the Queen's Birthday invitation tournament, and completed the season unbeaten with an impressive 44-0 record.
Redpath also coached the Waimea College senior boys' team to second place at the South Island secondary schools championships and seventh place at the New Zealand secondary schools championships.
The Printhouse Nelson masters sportsperson award went to athlete Phil Costley following his wins at the New Zealand mountain running championships, the Rotorua marathon and the Buller half marathon.
Costley was also part of the winning M40 team at the New Zealand road relay championships, and was second, and first in his age group, at the Auckland marathon.
Waimai Hockey Club and Nelson Hockey Association stalwarts David Jones, Robert Winter and Rosalie Winter, and long-time motorcycling official Bob Cooke, received Bowater Motor Group lifetime contribution to sport awards.
The Nelson Mail