Celebration of sporting talent

Sheffield Sharks
Sheffield Sharks

IT was a night when everyone was a winner, from accomplished stars to promising youngsters, inspiring coaches, talented teams and dedicated volunteers.

Sporting superstars Jess Ennis and Nick Matthew received the top accolades at this year’s South Yorkshire Sports Awards - Jess, the World and European heptathlon champion, was named Sports Personality of the Year while Nick, the World Open and double Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was crowned the Senior Performer of the Year.

Rising to the Challenge winners Rebekah Wright, Ben Sweeney and Bethany Dickinson, collecting their awards from Steve Hallsworth, the leisure services manager at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

Rising to the Challenge winners Rebekah Wright, Ben Sweeney and Bethany Dickinson, collecting their awards from Steve Hallsworth, the leisure services manager at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

South Yorkshire Sport director, Bruce Kelsey, said: “The Awards allowed us to showcase the very best in sporting talent and achievement across our region. Sport matters in South Yorkshire and it is clear from the many national and international achievements of our athletes, volunteers, coaches and clubs that the area is a real hotbed of sporting talent.

“In addition, the celebration gave us a great opportunity to pay collective thanks to all who are involved in sport in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield for the massive contribution they make, day in, day out, whatever the weather, to our overall sporting success.”

There was a ‘first’ at the event, which was held at the English Institute of Sport, when the judging panel found it too difficult to pick a winner in the ‘Rising to the Challenge’ category and named all three, Bethany Dickinson, Ben Sweeney and Rebekah Wright, as winners!

Rebekah, of Clifton Community Arts College, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in February 2008 and despite regular treatment carried on participating in the school’s netball and cross country teams. Outside of school, she attended karate lessons at Tang Soo Do in Rawmarsh and during her chemotherapy treatment she won silver and bronze medals at the Central Championships and two bronze at the Northern Championships.

Bethany, aged 13, was born 12 weeks prematurely and suffered a bleed on the left side of her brain. This left her with a weakness on her right side and she endured years of physiotherapy. Just two years ago she started gymnastics and trains five nights a week.

Bethany entered her first championship competition alongside able-bodied children her own age and won gold medals for the bars, beam and floor categories and a bronze for the vault.

Ben, of Edlington Swimming Club, was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome at birth. He became the Junior World record holder when he made his GB debut in seven different events in Taiwan last year and struck gold in the 100m backstroke, 100 individual medley and bronze in the 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke.

Other winners were:

Junior Team of the Year: Amy Woodhouse and Phoebe Morton – Rotherham Sports Acro Club

Senior Team of the Year: One Health Sheffield Sharks Basketball Club

Contribution to Disability Sport: Molly Walker, of Barnsley Inclusive Sports and Fitness Forum

Young Volunteer of the Year: James Unwin, of Sheffield Cycle Speedway Club.

Unsung Hero: Robert Mace, of Sheffield Stars Cycle Speedway

Young Coach of the Year: Keisha Little

Coach of the Year: Paul Braithwaite, of Barnsley Swimming Club.

Contribution to School Sport: Kingstone School

Club of the Year: City of Sheffield Diving Club

Lifetime Achievement: David White of Ulley Sailing Club

Junior Performer of the Year: Keira Reay of Barnsley Tenpin Bowling Club

Elite Coach of the Year: Paul Greaves of Abbey Flyers Trampoline Club