Nominations show depth of talent

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The number and quality of nominations for this year’s Waitaki Sports Awards reflects the depth of talent in the district, Sport Waitaki co-ordinator Mitch McRae says.

Finalists for the Network Waitaki-sponsored awards have been announced and include a world champion and several national champions and representatives.

“[It] is fantastic for a small region and we are able to punch well above our size,” McRae said.

Finalists compete for their respective category awards and the winners enter the running for the supreme award, all to be announced at a ceremony at the Waitaki Recreation Centre on March 16.

“The judges have a tricky time, not only finding the finalists but also coming to a decision on the winner, as there is such a range of sports and so many athletes that have achieved highly.

“It always provides great discussion around the table, which is a hard but enjoyable process.

“At the end of the day we do have to find finalists and winners, but those that miss out are still winners in their own right and they should all be proud of their achievements.”

All categories had standouts, but this year the male junior sportsman, team and coach of the year categories had been particularly hard to pick.

“There are so many coaches that are achieving and making a impact at the highest level, which we are then seeing paying off in the success of our athletes and teams.”

With former St Kevin’s College pupil and current Silver Fern Jane Watson as guest speaker at the March 16 ceremony, ticket sales had been strong, McRae said.

“The evening is a celebration of our sporting success for our region and is always an enjoyable evening,” he said.

The judging panel consisted of McRae, Diane Talanoa, Mark Julius, Adair Craik, Nicki Paterson and Trevor James.

For tickets to the awards night, contact McRae at sportwaitaki@sportotago.co.nz.

The finalists

Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Renae Church (rodeo)

Brylee More (touch)

Junior Sportsman of the Year

Stuart Beattie (western horse riding)

Loche Cowan (bull riding)

Liam Direen (squash)

Max Yanzick (athletics)

Clark Ewing (trap shooting)

Athlete with a Disability Sportsperson of the Year

Liam Bartley (swimming)

Hamish McCallum (cycling)

Doug Brand (rugby)

Male Sportsperson of the Year

Mark Taylor (rowing)

Logan Docherty (rowing)

Schuyler Orr (athletics)

Female Sportsperson of the Year

Courtney Duncan (motocross)

Morgan Henderson (rugby)

Masters Sportsperson of the Year

Nicola Kirkman (ultra-running)

Les McNeil (swimming)

Coach of the Year

Jason Forrest (rugby)

Abbey McKenzie (netball)

Owen Gould (rowing)

Team of the Year

North Otago Rugby Team

St Kevin’s College Top Five Basketball Team

St Kevin’s College Skeet Team