World champions, history makers and those who have spent decades contributing to sport were among those recognised at the ILT Southland Sports Awards on Friday night.
The 61st awards celebrated an outstanding year in Southland sport.
From athletics, bowls, boxing and cycling through to darts, equestrian, golf, racing, and rowing, there were plenty of sports in the limelight along with athletes, teams, coaches, administrators and officials who had all performed to exceptional standards over the past year.
Sport Southland chief executive Brendon McDermott said the ILT Southland Sports Awards were a positive reflection of the breadth of talent in the south.
"Southland might be a small province population-wise, but we perform big with the standard of our sportspeople is simply outstanding and continues to be so year after year," he said.
"The awards are so positive in that they recognise all of sport – from those in administration and volunteer roles making sport happen, to athletes reaching national and international heights."
"To come from Southland and be the best in the world, or the country, in your sport is truly inspirational, and we should all be very proud of the achievements of the finalists and the winners of the awards."
"We are very fortunate to live in a province that values sport and all that it brings to our community, and it was fantastic to see so many people at the awards to celebrate that."
The function offered a night of celebration and entertainment, with legendary cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee as guest speaker.
The evening also provided the chance to reflect on the input of the late Mike Piper, who passed away in January. Amongst years of service to sport in Southland, Piper was a long time trustee on the Southland Amateur Sports Trust and a driving force behind the establishment and ongoing success of Academy Southland.
Cyclist Pieter Bulling, who raced his way to a world championship title as part of the team pursuit at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships this year, was named ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year.
Kristen Froude's medal-winning feats at the World U23 Rowing Championships and subsequent selection in New Zealand's elite team, lead to her being named the Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year.
A new award for 2015, The Southland Times People's Choice Sporting Moment of the Year, had been voted on by the public, with the overwhelming favourite being when Warren Parry beat world champion Michael van Gerwen at the Sydney Masters darts tournament.
The Southland Women's Masters Golf Team has dominated the national women's masters tournament in recent years, and won its fifth national title last year, which saw it named Southland Kia Team of the Year.
Russell Newton, who was assistant coach for the New Zealand Boxing team at last year's Commonwealth Games, was named Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year.
Allan Dunn, who has overseen the event management for the annual Tour de Lakes cycling event in Wakatipu for the past 20 years, won the BDO Administrator of the Year award.
A year of international officiating at prestigious equestrian events saw Helen Christie named the Creation Signs Official of the Year.
Erin Criglington's defence of her World Masters Track Cycling title led to her winning the NZME Masters Achievement of the Year award.
Three Sport Southland Services to Sport Awards were also given out; recognising more than 135 collective years' of input into the recipients' respective sports. John O'Connor (rowing), Tony Dennis (racing) and David Burgess (bowls) were all acknowledged for decades of contribution to sport.
SOUTHLAND SPORTS AWARDS 2015
Senior Sportsperson of the Year:
Pieter Bulling (Cycling)
Junior Sportsperson of the Year:
Kristen Froude (Rowing)
People's Choice Sporting Moment of the Year:
Warren Parry (Darts)
Team of the Year:
Southland Women's Masters Golf Team (Golf)
Coach of the Year:
Russell Newton (Boxing)
Administrator of the Year:
Allan Dunn (Cycling)
Official of the Year:
Helen Christie (Equestrian)
Masters Achievement of the Year:
Erin Criglington (Cycling)
Services to Sport:
David Burgess (Bowls)
Tony Dennis (Racing)
John O'Connor (Rowing)
Mike Piper Trophy for integrity, commitment and excellence:
Jordan Rackham (Athletics)
Article courtesy The Southland Times, photo Hannah Peters