Highly-rated New Zealand road cyclist Tom Scully has been named the ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year at a gala awards night in Invercargill tonight.
Scully was unable to attend the ILT Southland Sports Awards at the Ascot Park Hotel due to the not insignificant matter of his second appearance in the Tour de France, cycling’s biggest occasion.
The 29-year-old has gone where no Southland rider has travelled previously over the past 12 months, completing the trifecta with appearances in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours – Italy, Spain and, of course, France.
Speaking on the eve of the tour’s grand depart in Belgium, Scully said he was proud to be representing Southland on the world stage.
“I feel honoured to receive this award, congratulations to all the other finalists, all pushing in your own chosen fields. I'm about to start my second Tour de France and what a journey it has been to get to this point,” he said.
“Thanks for all the support – family, friends, the community down there in Southland. It’s something I think about a lot, where I come from, when I’m out there riding my bike, and how I ended up here.”
Born in Invercargill and raised in Central Otago, Scully returned to Invercargill to develop his riding on the SIT Velodrome while still at high school.
While he has enjoyed success on the road and track, including Commonwealth Games and world championships podiums, he has also had to battle back from a potentially career-ending accident at the Tour of Ireland in 2010 and the financial vagaries of professional cycling.
“It’s a journey that I think many people in Southland have shared with me. It’s an awesome thing and it’s great knowing that in the place you come from there are great people supporting you to fulfill your potential,” Scully said.
“It’s no overnight success. A lot of people in the room tonight will know that, they’ve shared the journey with me, the highs and the lows along the way.”
Presented by Sport Southland, on behalf of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust, the ILT Southland Sports Awards aim to inspire the community, honour outstanding achievement and promote positive sporting role models.
Black Ferns and Black Ferns sevens rugby representative Alena Saili was named the Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year after a year which saw her win gold at the Commonwealth Games and make her debut in the longer form of the game.
The New Zealand women’s team sprint combination of Southland riders Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen were named the Southland Kia Team of the Year after a past 12 months which saw them rise to fourth in the world, the best ranking ever for a New Zealand women’s team.
Reinga Bloxham was awarded the Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year award after guiding the Southern Steel to back-to-back ANZ Premiership netball titles, while netball umpire Kristie Simpson was named the Creation Signs Official of the Year following a year which saw her officiate the Commonwealth Games, the ANZ Premiership and Super Club finals.
New Zealand women’s senior matchplay champion Robyn Boniface took out the NZME Masters Achievement award, while World Badminton Federation administrator Nigel Skelt was judged the BDO Administrator of the Year.
Blair Vining, who has worked tirelessly to fundraise for Central Southland sport and advocate for better cancer treatment, took out the Southland Times People’s Choice award following his Bucket List rugby game in Winton earlier this year.
National under 23 mountain bike champion Josh Burnett received the Mike Piper Trophy for excellence, integrity and commitment as a graduating athlete from Academy Southland.
Four Services to Sport awards were also presented to individuals who have made a major impact on Southland sport; including Ginge Burnett (triathlon, BMX and rugby), Malcolm McKee (rugby, equestrian and tennis), Lance Smith (athletics) and Gerry Ward (cricket).
ILT Southland Sports Awards winners:
ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year – Tom Scully (road cycling)
Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Alena Saili (rugby)
Southland Kia Team of the Year – Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen (cycling)
Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year – Reinga Bloxham (netball)
Creation Signs Official of the Year – Kristie Simpson (netball)
NZME Masters Achievement – Robyn Boniface (golf)
BDO Administrator of the Year – Nigel Skelt (badminton)
Mike Piper Trophy – Josh Burnett (mountain biking)
Sport Southland Services to Sport: Ginge Burnett (triathlon, BMX and rugby), Malcolm McKee (rugby, equestrian and tennis), Lance Smith (athletics) and Gerry Ward (cricket).
Article by Nathan Burdon - SouthlandSport.com