Award a poignant honouring of dead athlete

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2013
Lesley Cantwell
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
Lesley Cantwell collapsed and later died after winning gold in the 5000m track walk at the Oceania track and field championships in Papeete.

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Last night's Athletics Southland annual general meeting, where the 2013 award winners were announced, was marked with a touch of sadness.

Athletics Southland has had yet another outstanding year with plenty of success which is evident in their award winners list.

One of those award winners was Lesley Cantwell.

Cantwell won gold at the Oceania track and field championships in Papeete, winning the 5000m track walk in what was a Southland record.

However the 26-year-old collapsed on the way to a medal ceremony and after some time in a critical condition she died.

Her death devastated the Southland athletics community and her community of Te Anau.

Last night she was a joint winner of the Distance Athlete of the Year at the Southland Athletics AGM as a result of her outstanding effort of winning gold at the Oceania Championships.

She shared the award with Jordan Rackham.

Gail Kirkman won the overall athlete of the year honour following her string of New Zealand records and the masters World Championship in the women's 60 to 64 age-group.

It is the second time Kirkman has won the award after having her name etched on the trophy in 2002.

Other Southland Athlete of the year recipients include Jessica Hamill, John Campbell, Edie Crowe and Jane Arnott.

AWARD WINNERS

Athlete of the Year: Gail Kirkman for string of New Zealand records and the masters World Championship in the women's 60 to 64 age-group. Sprinter of the Year: Gail Kirkman – 400m and 400m hurdles records and world championship medals among her haul. (Equal) Distance Athlete of the Year: Jordan Rackham – New Zealand representative and medallist at the Australian Youth Olympics and Oceania Games. He won silver at the New Zealand Championships in the steeple silver, bronze in the steeple at the New Zealand Secondary School Championships and silver in the New Zealand road champs. (Equal) Distance Athlete of the Year: Lesley Cantwell – silver and bronze NZ Champs (both Sth records, gold Oceania champs). Jumps Athlete of the Year: Sean Pay – New Zealand Championships triple jump double gold. Oceania triple jump gold and long jump bronze. Throws Athlete of the Year: Laura Overton – New Zealand representative at the Australian Youth Olympics (bronze) and Oceania Championships (gold and silver). At the New Zealand Championships she medalled twice (gold & bronze), and at the New Zealand Secondary School Championships won silver

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- The Southland Times

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