Thanks to Queen's Birthday we missed last week. I know, that's the reason you've been feeling something was missing for the last seven days, right? So, somewhat belatedly, I want to reflect on the outstanding night that was the ILT Southland Sports Awards, ten days ago.
As New Zealanders, we do a fairly mediocre job of recognising our achievers and as Southlanders we are probably even closer to the conservative end of the scale. Nights like we enjoyed at the Ascot Park Hotel Friday week ago, are about as close as we get to publicly recognising outstanding accomplishment.
If you're anything like me, you start reading the morning paper from the back page, not the front - because that's likely to mean you start the day in a more positive fashion. And don't even think about watching the news at night with your eight and 10-year-olds because it is 90 percent mayhem, death and destruction - the only thing that changes each night is the order they come in!
Then along comes the ILT Southland Sports Awards and our faith in humanity can be restored (at least until we watch the news the next night). Every name that flashed up on the screen as finalists and plenty more that missed making the cut, in another hugely competitive year, deserve to be shouted from the rooftops. I'm lucky enough to work in the sporting sector so I see first-hand week after week what great things are achieved across the age groups locally, nationally and internationally.
As the host of the evening my job was to remain apolitical, although I did have to draw attention to cycling having the most nominations and the most number of winners on the night (in an apolitical way of course).
Erin Criglington's stellar year was rightfully recognised with the Radio Network Masters Achievement award. She is more-or-less unbeatable in her age group and every time she powers out of the starting gate for a time trial or individual pursuit, she lowers her own national record. It's just the fillet for Erin, with her next performance focus, a little competition called the World Masters Championships in Manchester in October.
Another with World Champs on his mind is the Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year Ross Machejefski. Rossco has built an outstanding record over the last two years at the Junior World Championships, including last year's 10 medal haul in Invercargill. Glasgow awaits in August for the 2013 edition and Southlanders Josh Haggerty, Jeremy Presbury and Alexandra's Liam Aitcheson will be with him, looking to turn the silver and bronze from the last two campaigns into gold.
The cycling haul was completed by triple Paralympic medalists Phillipa Gray and Laura Fairweather who took out the Southland Vehicle Sales Team of the Year after returning from London with a full set of medals.
They are just three great stories from a night that included dozens more. We just need to do a better job of telling them.
Nick Jeffrey is the Cycling Southland Chief Executive