The best of Southland sport will be celebrated tonight at the 60th edition of the Southland Sports Awards.
World champions and medallists, record-breaking performances and outstanding achievements will be acknowledged and applauded at tonight's function at the Ascot Park Hotel.
Winners will be announced across seven categories, including the ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year, Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year, Southland Kia Team of the Year, Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year, The Southland Times Administrator of the Year, BNZ Official of the Year and The Radio Network Masters Achievement of the Year.
Sport Southland Services to Sport recipient/s will also be announced tonight.
Sport Southland chief executive Brendon McDermott said over the 60 years since the first Southland Senior Sportsperson award was given out, Southlanders had continued to shine on the international and national sporting scenes and this year proved no different.
"From familiar faces to rising stars, there is just so much talent amongst the finalists in this year's ILT Southland Sports Awards. Whilst sports do celebrate their own successes, the awards are a fantastic chance to look at the whole sporting scene in Southland and the achievements over the qualifying period [April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014]," he said.
"The achievements we will celebrate tonight should make Southlanders very, very proud. We have some absolutely outstanding sportspeople, coaches, administrators and officials here in the south and we're really looking forward to celebrating those people and their achievements tonight."
Justin Marshall will be the guest speaker at tonight's sellout awards function.
Today takes a look at the finalists in the ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year category.
ILT Southland Senior Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Conroy (Motorsport):
In his first year competing in the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship, Conroy won the national title in convincing fashion. The talented driver won 16 of 18 rounds of the national series, becoming one of a select few to win the championship in his rookie year. He also picked up the Morrie Smith Memorial Trophy at the New Zealand Formula Ford round at Manfeild and won the South Island Formula Ford title.
Eddie Dawkins (Cycling):
Riding alongside Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster, Dawkins was a formidable part of the New Zealand sprint team that raced its way to a world title at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships in Colombia, winning New Zealand's first ever world sprint title and setting a New Zealand record. Dawkins was ranked as the leading sprinter at the end of the UCI Track World Cup Circuit for 2013-14 and became the first New Zealand rider to break 10 seconds for the Flying 200m.
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (Netball):
Fowler-Reid's debut ANZ Championship season was a memorable one, with the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel goal shoot breaking league records for the most goals in a season (666) and the most goals in a game (65). Her accuracy under the post and an athleticism many defenders just couldn't combat saw her named the ANZ Championship's Most Valuable Player; she was announced as the ANZ Championship's best new talent, and was named as goal shoot in the 2013 Foxtel ANZ Championship All Star team.
Sonia Manaena (Powerlifting):
Manaena lifted her way into international record books last year. The Southland athlete won gold in the 84kg-plus class at the Powerlifting World Championships in Russia, placing fifth in the squat, second in the bench press and winning the raw deadlift with a world record lift of 236kg to take the world title in that class. Adding to a remarkable year, she also broke the Equipped Powerlifting World Record at 245kg at the Colombia World Games.
Tom Scully (Cycling):
Scully had a great year on both the road and the track, highlighted by an outstanding performance at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships where he rode brilliantly to win silver in the men's points race. Just months prior he had won gold with Paddy Bevin in the Madison event at the UCI Track World Cup in Mexico, as well as a silver in the scratch race. On local roads he also won the Sprint Ace jersey in the 2013 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
Gabrielle Vermunt (Cycling):
Vermunt had a medal-winning year in road cycling, riding as pilot for Wellington para-cyclist Emma Foy. The pair won bronze in the time trial at the UCI Para-Cycling World Road Championships in Canada and placed fourth in the road race at the same event. This was their first attendance at the world championships. They also placed fourth in the time trial at the UCI Para-Cycling World Cup.
- The Southland Times