World champions, record-breaking performances and an outstanding year in Southland sport were all celebrated at the 60th edition of the Southland Sports Awards at the Ascot Park Hotel last night.
The evening honoured a year of outstanding achievements from Southland's athletes, teams, coaches, administrators and officials.
Track cyclist Eddie Dawkins was named ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year after an exceptional year, which included winning a world title at the UCI Track World Cycling Championships, as part of the men's sprint team.
Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster won New Zealand's first ever world sprint title, and set a New Zealand record.
Dawkins was also 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.
Jeremy Presbury won the Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year category, also following an outstanding year in track cycling.
Presbury put in an outstanding performance at the UCI Junior World Track Cycling Championships winning silver in the sprint and finishing fourth in the team sprint with the team recording the fastest time by a New Zealand junior team.
He also won four medals at the New Zealand track nationals and gold in the team sprint at the elite track nationals.
The Zero Fees Southland Sharks were named Southland Kia Team of the Year, after their NBL title-winning season in 2013.
The team had an outstanding season, winning seven of eight home games, having an impressive away season and then playing superb basketball in the final four series, to beat the Nelson Giants 92-81 and take the national title.
On the back of that hugely impressive season, Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare won the Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year award.
In what was his first year coaching the Southland Sharks, he not only rebuilt the team to a championship-winning side and created a culture and atmosphere to allow his players to shine, but he was also appointed as one of the New Zealand Breakers assistant coaches for the 2013-14 ANBL season.
Cheryl Officer was named The Southland Times Administrator of the Year for her tireless work for Southland District Rugby League.
She is the chairwoman, manages the senior representative team, has secured new sponsors, manages weekly competitions and club finals and is responsible for finances, turning a deficit into a profit inside 12 months.
Michael Lash was BNZ Official of the Year after his officiating in Super Rugby, ITM Cup and Heartland Championship rugby, as well as at the Sanix World Youth Rugby Tournament in Japan last year.
A record-breaking performance from Gail Kirkman earned her The Radio Network Masters Achievement of the Year. Kirkman won two world titles at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Brazil, won one silver medal and broke five New Zealand records.
Three hard-working Southlanders were also acknowledged for years of contribution to their respective sports, with Elaine Karsten (softball), George Kempton (rowing) and Brian McKenzie (basketball) all receiving Sport Southland Services to Sport awards.
Sport Southland chief executive Brendon McDermott said the ILT Southland Sports Awards marked what had been an outstanding year in Southland sport.
"The quality of the winners and of the finalists this year was quite simply brilliant and their achievements should make all of us very proud to be Southlanders," he said.
"We might be a small province but the performances from our athletes, coaches, administrators and officials over the qualifying period have been huge.
"There is so much to be proud of in Southland sport, and we're very fortunate to be able to celebrate all of that with the ILT Southland Sports Awards."
- The Southland Times