Cycling Southland’s first annual awards evening was held last week at Ascot Park Hotel.
Like many sporting organizations, one of the major challenges our organization faces is trying to appropriately recognize the incredible achievements and contributions on and off the bike during the course of the year.
Guest speaker Simon Jones provided an insight in to his strength and conditioning role with High Performance Sport New Zealand, including the incredible tale of returning Tom Scully to full health following his career threatening smash in Ireland two years ago. Southland is blessed with incredible facilities and plenty of raw sporting talent and with specialist expertise from Jonesy, nutritionist Aimee Burns and Academy Southland’s Jason McKenzie, Southland sport is converting that raw talent in to world class performance.
At Cycling Southland, once you start handing out awards it is difficult to know when to stop. The sheer volume of worthy recipients made the task of selecting winners very difficult.
Our first ever People’s Choice awards, based on nominations from the crowd on the night were very popular. Tom Sexton took out the “Performance of the Year” for his ride in the Under 15 Boys Points Race at the Age Group Track Nationals. Young Tom had ridden a tremendous race before crashing a handful of laps from the end. He brushed off the attention of medical and race officials and bravely fought his way to the finish to earn his first national medal.
And Ray Robinson headed off a long list of candidates to win the “Muppet of the Year” award. He rode the Gore to Waikiwi classic in a borrowed set of race shoes, after arriving at the start line to find he had left his own set at home. The borrowed set was about four sizes too big and he rode the race with pieces of old rag stuffed in the back of the shoes, pulling most of the muscles in his lower body in the process. Take good care of Elmo for the year, Ray
Speaking of high performers, we are hosting a farewell function for our Olympic and Junior Worlds representatives next week. Over coming weeks, London-bound Eddie Dawkins, Natasha Hansen and Matt Archibald head away for the final phase of their buildup to July’s Olympics. Later next month our local Junior Worlds contingent of Tom Beadle, Jeremy Presbury and Kate Dunlevey scatter to all corners of the globe - Australia, the United States and Europe - to put the finishing touches on their pre-Championship preparations.
Join us to send this talented bunch off in style at Ascot Park Hotel on Thursday May 31st from 5.30pm. Tickets are $25 with profits going to the local Junior Worlds riders to assist with the self-funding of their trips. We’ll hear from all six riders along with BikeNZ coach Stu MacDonald on their hopes for the next three months and we’ll throw in a drink and nibbles as well.
For tickets contact Cycling Southland on 2173215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you can join us for what will be the start of one of the most exciting periods for sport in Southland.
Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive