Recognition for Olympic exploits
It was fitting that Eric Murray ruled supreme for the fourth successive year last night.
The Olympic gold medallist took out two major titles at the Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards in Hamilton, being named the Sportsman of the Year and backing that up by taking out the Supreme Award for Sporting Excellence.
Murray won the gold medal in the men's pair with crewmate Hamish Bond at the 2012 London Olympics last September, which capped off a staggering four-year campaign for the duo.
The 30-year-old teamed up with Bond at the start of 2009 after being part of the New Zealand men's coxless four which missed out on a place in the A final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after entering the regatta as the defending world champions.
Since forming the pair, Murray and Bond have proven unbeatable, not losing a race on their way to Olympic glory at Eton Dorney.
That achievement helped Murray gain the supreme title at the past three regional awards, and he gained his fourth victory on the back of two World Cup regatta triumphs, a new world's best time set in the heats in London and the gold medal the pair had been desperately seeking.
Murray had to see off a top quality field to win the supreme award in the most memorable of years for Waikato sporting achievements.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic netballer and Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman was adjudged Sportswoman of the Year after playing a starring role as the Magic became the first New Zealand team to win the trans-Tasman league title last year, while she was again a standout for the national side.
The Chiefs were also heavily recognised for their breakthrough triumph in capturing the 2012 Super Rugby crown. They took out the Team of the Year award, while inspirational rugby coach Dave Rennie was named Coach of the Year.
Promising Waikato Regional Performance rower Hannah Osborne, who was part of the New Zealand women's quadruple sculls crew who won bronze at the world junior championships last year, won the Junior Sportswoman of the Year gong.
Matamata Olympian Matthew Stanley capped off a standout 2012 campaign by winning the Junior Sportsman crown, while special acknowledgement was made of the 32 years of service Robin Fulton has given to Waikato Golf.
"These awards represented the success we had in 2012 and displayed the vast depth of talent within the Waikato sporting community," said Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Cooper.
EVERYONE'S A WINNER
Brian Perry Supreme Award for Sporting Excellence: Eric Murray Arrow International Sportsman of the Year: Eric Murray (Waikato Rowing Club) Gallagher Group Sportswoman of the Year: Laura Langman (Netball Waikato and Waikato BOP Magic) Wintec Team of the Year: Chiefs Coach of the Year: Dave Rennie (Chiefs) Livingstone Building New Zealand Ltd Junior Sportsman of the Year: Matthew Stanley (Matamata Amateur Swimming Club) The Radio Network Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Hannah Osborne (Waikato Regional Performance Centre) Sporting Personality of the Year: Tjitte (TJ) Weistra (Waikato Badminton Assn) Waikato Times Secondary Schools All Rounder of the Year: Mikayla Nielsen (Correspondence School) Waikato Times Secondary Schools Team of the Year: Hamilton Girls High School Senior Basketball Team Waikato Times Secondary Schools Sportswoman of the Year: Steffie Holcroft (Hillcrest High School) Waikato Times Secondary Schools Sportsman of the Year: Compton Pikari (St Peters School, Cambridge) Lodge Real Estate Club Coach of the Year: Cameron Durno (Tri-Sport Taupo) Lodge Real Estate Club Team of the Year: Frankton Railway Men's Interclub Team (Bowls) Lodge Real Estate Club of the Year: Waikato Paraplegic & Physically Disabled Assn (Parafed Waikato) Deloitte Administrator of the Year: Denise Hill (Waikato Hockey Association) Referee/Umpire of the Year: Shanelle Barrett (Tri New Zealand) Service to Sport: Joan Dixon (Hamilton Tennis Club), Glen Marsh (Waikato Basketball Council), Bruce Tocker (Parafed Waikato), Malcolm Vaile (Lugton Park Squash Club)