Walsh wins big at South Canterbury awards

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2014

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South Canterbury athletes featured prominently at last night's Athletic Canterbury awards, taking out five key honours.

World indoor shot put bronze medallist Tom Walsh, who is from Timaru but now works in Christchurch, may need to build himself a bigger trophy cabinet after winning the supreme prize.

The 22-year-0ld apprentice carpenter, who has already left to compete at a Diamond League meet in Oregon, was honoured in absentia at last night's awards dinner.

Walsh's manager, Paul Coughlan, accepted his awards for thrower of the year and best senior track and field athlete.

Walsh's coach, Timaru-based Ian Baird, was a joint winner of coach of the year with Maria Hassan, whose charges include Commonwealth Games middle distance medal hopeful Angie Smit and champion steeplechaser Rosa Flanagan.

Baird also won the coach of the year at last Friday's Sport South Canterbury awards in Timaru. He was unable to attend last night due to recent hip replacement surgery.

The sprinter of the year title went to Timaru's Jacob Matson while hammer thrower Lauren Bruce won the technical club trophy for female thrower of the year.

Smit, who last year became the first Canterbury athlete in a decade to compete at a IAAF world championships, won Athletics Canterbury's middle distance athlete of the year award and the trophy for the most outstanding athlete at the Canterbury track and field championships held in Timaru.

Flanagan, who celebrated a record breaking steeplechase season with a senior national title, went home heavily laden with silverware after taking out the top junior athlete, best distance athlete, best under-20 athlete and best secondary school non-stadia athlete categories.

Youth athlete Alex Mander was the other multiple award winner.

His first national title in the octathlon earlier this year saw him win the combined events athlete of the year award, along with the O'Grady Trophy for most outstanding track and field athlete still at secondary school.

Mander won two other national titles in the triple jump and 300m hurdles along with contributing to Canterbury's relay medal success.

The recipients of the merit award for exceptional service to athletics were both surprised by their acknowledgement.

John McBrearty and Kevin Jago had each secretly nominated the other.

Athletics Canterbury sport development manager Anita Sutherland said both men were former association presidents, who had given a significant amount of time and energy to the sport.

The youngest award winner, alongside Mander, was 16-year-old Ben Collerton, who won the jumper of the year after going close to one of Glenn Howard's high jump records (2.01m) at the Canterbury Secondary School Championships.

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Senior non-stadia athlete of the year and cross-country runner of the year were awarded to Nicki McFadzien who won the national cross-country title from a star studded lineup.

She may defend her crown at the national championships in Christchurch on the August 9.

Margot Gibson won the junior non-stadia athlete of the year. Fairfax NZ

Other awards: Hurdler of the year: Fiona Morrison; para athlete of the year: Caitlin Dore; walker of the year: Courtney Rusk; road-runner of the year: Daniel Balchin; Technical Club Trophy (male middle distance): Brad Mathas.

- The Timaru Herald

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