World-class contenders vie for sports awards

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014

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The South Canterbury Sports Awards will again be a very close-fought affair with a number of athletes producing outstanding results on the world stage.

The ability for the province to punch above its weight continues in both the top award and the outstanding young sportsperson.

In the Sportsperson of the Year eight nominees have been to world cups or championships. Among those fighting it out to take the top award are three cyclists, a shot putter, a clay target shooter, a rower and a hockey player.

The judges will have a tough time separating the cream.

Shot putter Tom Walsh has exploded on to the international scene finishing the season with a bronze medal in the indoor world championships and twice breaking the New Zealand record.

Veteran pursuit ride Marc Ryan returned from the world championships with two bronze medals, in both the team and individual events.

Waimate 19-year-old Dylan Kennett also won a bronze in the pursuit team, along with Ryan, and finished seventh in the scratch race.

Clay target shooter Natalie Rooney finished second in the women's individual event at the "Down the Line" world championships and her women's team won the gold medal.

Cass Reid, 19, notched up 10 games for the Black Sticks and was part of the team that finished fifth at the world league final in Argentina.

Cameron Crampton, also 19, sculled his way to silver in the quad at the under-23 world championships.

Speed skater Nicole Begg and cyclist Shane Archbold attended world events.

It is also great to see other sports nominate their best despite the tough competition to acknowledge their best performed athletes.

The outstanding junior sportsperson is also close with 12 of the 21 nominees having represented New Zealand.

The contenders for the title look like coming down to four athletes who made their way to world events.

Roncalli hurdler James Sandilands, Craighead tennis player Annabel Ellis, Craighead rower Emma Dyke and Craighead clay target shooter Brittany Pilcher all got to their sports' junior pinnacle events.

The winner however is likely to come down to between Pilcher, who was part of the New Zealand women's No 2 team that won bronze at the world "Down the Line" championships and Dyke, who was stroke of the New Zealand junior coxless four which was sixth in the final at the junior world rowing championships.

The winning coach contenders will also be hard to separate.

Rowing coach Dan Kelly, Kane Newland of tennis and rugby's Chester Scott were all asked by their national bodies to be in charge of teams while athletics stalwart Ian Baird took Walsh to near the top of the world.

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Again there will also be a special "home grown" award presented to a sportsperson who achieved distinction within their discipline.

The event has been organised by Sport Canterbury, South Canterbury (SCSC) which has again managed to get a top class guest speaker by enticing Commonwealth Games chef de mission and America's Cup sailor Rob Waddell to the event.

SCSC regional manager Verna Parker was thrilled with the quality of the nominees.

"It was certainly not an easy task for the judges, with some outstanding results."

There are still around 40 tickets available from the SCSC offices at the South Trust Events Centre.

- The Timaru Herald

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