Paddon guest speaker at sports awards

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New Zealand rally champion Hayden Paddon will share his wisdom with Waitaki’s sporting community next year.

Paddon has been named as the guest speaker at the 2021 Network Waitaki Sports Awards, which are being held on March
14.

Paddon, who grew up in Geraldine, won the 2016 Argentina Rally — the fourth round of the World Rally Championship — and is a five-time New Zealand Rally Championship winner. He also recently debuted the world’s first electric rally car at Waimate 50, which he won.

Sport Waitaki co-ordinator Pip Sutton said Paddon was a massive coup for the sports awards.

‘‘It’s all happening at once for him. He’s super interesting,’’ Sutton said. ‘‘It isan unusual sport so I think that is quite cool to recognise that and obviously [it’s] going with the times with the electric car he’s just brought out.’’

The awards recognise the district’s top athletes in 12 categories, including junior, emerging athlete, senior, officials, coaches, teams and services to sport.

Nominations for the awards closed on Tuesday and organisers had received a good number of them, covering a broad range of sports.

Sutton said it was another difficult year as Covid›19 put paid to some major sporting events and national and international opportunities for athletes.

‘‘[It was] probably even tricker than the year before — and I only say that because lots of things were very last minute. In terms of the athletes, I felt super sorry for them, it was all looking good and then it was slammed in their face.’’

Last-minute nominations would still be accepted as the selection panel did not want anyone ‘‘left off the list’’.

One person would also be inducted into the Waitaki Sports Hall of Fame at the awards.

Hall of Fame inductions were brought back to life last year, after a hiatus, with the induction of former Silver Fern Georgie Salter, 15›time New Zealand squash champion Ann Stephens and five›time New Zealand boxing champion Emmett Gradwell.

Sutton said there was a ‘‘massive selection’’ of successful sports stars from Waitaki who needed to be recognised.

Any last minute nominations for this year’s sports awards should be emailed to Sutton at psutton@sportotago.co.nz.

Tickets for the sports awards will go on sale next year.