The countdown to the Network Waitaki Sports Awards is on.
On March 29, the Waitaki district will come together to celebrate its top level sports stars.
But those achievements are not the only thing that will be celebrated this year – three athletes will also be inducted into the Waitaki Sports Hall of Fame.
They will join 17 other athletes, whose photos hang on the wall at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre, including world record holder Trish Hill, Olympic gold medal rower Gary Robertson and former New Zealand black sticks captain Scott Anderson.
It was the first time athletes had been inducted in more than six years, and all recipients were high calibre athletes in their chosen fields.
The evening would begin with the hall of fame inductions – presented by Hayden Meikle – and there would be different presentations on each athlete.
Sport Waitaki co-ordinator Pip Sutton said it was an awesome opportunity to resurrect the hall of fame and recognise three new athletes.
“They deserve to be in it. It’s been a long time and there’s been some phenomenal sports people come out of Waitaki, so to recognise this is great,” Sutton said.
The Waitaki Sports Hall of Fame inductions would be followed by a dinner for guests, and then the Network Waitaki Sports Awards would get under way.
The 13 categories and winners would be introduced by Barry Fox – and all winners were incredibly deserving, she said.
It was exciting to be able to still recognise the district’s sporting achievements after a challenging year due to Covid-19 disruptions.
“They’re all very deserving winners.
“Our judging panel did recognise that definitely some sports took a hit, in particular when we went through Covid – it was the winter sports – but all of them are on par [with] other years.”
A wide range of sports featured in the awards this year – from equestrian to trap-shooting.
“There were some tricky categories to choose an outright winner, so everything was taken into account.”
The six judges were from diverse sporting backgrounds, and all of them were “in the know” about sport in Waitaki, she said.
The nominees showcased the great work ethic of athletes throughout the district.
“I’m looking forward to celebrating the people that were able to continue sport. Even though the world’s slightly different at the moment, sport is still a massive part of that.
“Sport keeps it [the community] moving. I’m genuinely really excited to recognise the people for their skills and hard work.”
Former Olympic silver medal cyclist turned-bobsledder Eddie Dawkins would be the guest speaker at the event, and there would also be a performance by Waitaki Kapa Haka.
More than 100 tickets had already been sold for the evening, at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre, and Sutton was rapt with the response from the community.
Tickets were on sale until Wednesday, and people needed to get in quick to secure their place.
The $70 tickets included a gourmet meal catered for by the Loan and Merc.
Doors would open at 6.15pm, and the evening would begin at 7pm.