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Top athletes & volunteers honoured in Athletics Wgtn Awards

29 May 2014

Top athletes and volunteers honoured in Athletics Wellington Awards

Top track and field athlete Phoebe Edwards and administrator Geoff Henry were among the winners in the inaugural Athletics Wellington awards at Chicago Sports Café on May 28.

Thirteen awards among 12 categories were presented at an awards ceremony, covering track and field, cross country and road events for both junior and senior athletes, and volunteers.

Phoebe Edwards, the country’s top teenager in both high jump and heptathlon, picked up the Jumper of the Year and Combined Eventer of the Year awards. Despite being just 16, she was a bit surprised to head off brother and sister Anna and Scott Thompson, the top two Oceania triple jumpers in their grade, and university student and senior heptathlete Ariana Blackwood.

As well as winning the national youth high jump title this year, she came third in long jump and got personal bests in nine different track and field events. She has been invited to join Athletics NZ's High Performance 'Pathway to Podium' programme, a partnership between Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand that identifies and prepares emerging athletes for international competition.

“She’s a very strong athlete, she’s just so dedicated,” her coach Mike Ritchie says. “She’s the type of athlete that can go international.”

Edwards, from Island Bay, was the only nominee for three categories, also nominated for Sprinter of the Year for her unbeaten efforts in 80m and 100m hurdles. The sprinter award went to Alex Howden, who is ranked 4th in New Zealand in both the U20 200m and 100m, was runner up in the National champs in both, and also collected a silver at the National Secondary Schools competition in the 100m event.

Katie Smith collected the award for Wellington’s Thrower of the Year. She is Number 1 in New Zealand for Youth Women Shot Put and secured bronze at the most recent Oceania Champs.

Team of the year was the Grade 12/13 Inter Provincial team, who won the interprovincial competition for the third consecutive year, the most points by any team since 2001. Captain Ben Murdoch, 14, was surprised to head off older teams up to Masters level.

“They’re the seniors – we’re, like, just kids – but it was a good team to be a part of. All that hard work paid off.”

The hotly contested Volunteer of the Year was award to two recipients: Jim McIllroy, who coordinates officials and officiated at the New Zealand Special Olympics. The other recipient was Louise Evans McDonald, the Children's Section Manager at the Wellington Harrier Athletic Club, who volunteers with cross country, interclub and at a National level.

NZ Masters Cross Country Champion (and Athletics Wellington board chair) Todd Stevens picked up the Distance Runner of the Year after winning every provincial Masters event the Vossler Shield, the Dorne Cup, Wellington Cross Country Championship, and Wellington Road Championships, and was place 2nd nationally.

“It was a good year – a very special year,” he said when accepting his award.

A special lifetime award went to Geoff Henry, 75, who has held multiple roles at all levels of the sport and is a life member of Wellington Athletics. In the 1970’s he founded a children’s athletics club which partnered with Wellington Harriers, where he has been a member since 1978. He was Sports Wellington Volunteer of the Year in 2010, and received a Certificate of Achievement in last year’s Kiwibank Senior 'New Zealander of the Year Awards.

Coach of the Year was Wairarapa coach Mark Harris who coaches seven of the finalists.

Award winners
Coach of the Year: Mark Harris
Combined eventer of the Year: Phoebe Edwards
Jumper of the Year: Phoebe Edwards
Distance Runner of the Year: Todd Stevens
Middle Distance Athlete of the Year: Hamish Carson
Para Athlete of the Year: Keelan Ward
Sprinter of the Year: Alex Howden
Team of the Year: Athletics Wellington Grade 12/13 Inter Provincial team
Thrower of the Year: Katie Smith
Walker of the Year: Jacqueline Wilson
Volunteers of the Year: Jim McIllroy | Louise Evans McDonald

ENDS

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