It was a night to honour the great and good of the region’s sporting stars - but the grassroots game was also celebrated at Wednesday night’s Celebration of Sport event at the EIS.
The English Institute of Sport was transformed into a gala dinner setting, with Olympic heroes like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Anthony Joshua joining stars of the Paralmypic scene and a host of local football luminaries, including Sheffield United skipper Billy Sharp.
As well as celebrating the past, present and future of Sheffield’s unrivalled sporting scene, with a demonstration of the new Olympic Legacy Park, six special grassroots awards were also handed out after an extensive nomination search and voting process, co-ordinated by The Star.
It was an Olympic double for two awards, as Rio stars Freddie Woodward and Bryony Page walked away with the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards respectively.
Bryony, on crutches after undergoing an operation following her trampolining silver medal in Rio, said: “It’s been an amazing time, and I really didn’t expect this award.
“I want to thank everyone for their support and for their nice words since the Olympics. A lot of people have said I inspired them, which is really good to hear because that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Freddie, who missed out on a spot in the diving final by just one place in Rio, added: “It’s difficult to really sum up the year in words. I thought maybe the Olympic Games in 2020, in Tokyo, would be more realistic for me, so to even make it to Rio was a dream come true and it capped off a great year.”
Hannah Cain, Sheffield FC Ladies’ 17-year-old star who battled back from a serious leg injury to make the England U17 squad, won the Future Star award.
The gong was collected by her mum Lisa, as Hannah is currently on England duty.
Wajid Nazir was named Unsung Hero, for commitment and dedication to the One Nation Community Centre and the Sharrow area of Sheffield.
Wajid, who regularly volunteers 20 hours a week alongside a full-time job to provide high quality activities for inactive young people and adults, said: “There was a lot of antisocial behaviour in the area and with a lot of help, we opened the facility and it took off from there.”
Running club Strideout Sheffield took home the Club of the Year award, and youngster Said Jamal won the Overcoming Adversity gong.
The 15-year-old Clifton Community School pupil plays rugby league for Dearne Valley Bulldogs, and fled the Taliban in Afghanistan with his mother and siblings.
“Everyone at the club makes me feel like part of a family,” Said said, “and that feels amazing.”
He has set his sights on becoming a professional rugby league player for Castleford Tigers, and a cardiologist.
Ennis-Hill, who entertained the crowd during an interview with coach Toni Minichiello, told The Star afterwards: “This is a fantastic city with a great sporting history, and it’s really important to celebrate that.
“Everything starts at the grassroots level, and I think it’s vital to recognise the young kids coming through. Hopefully, they’ll be the future stars of the city.”
n To see a video of the event, visit www.thestar.co.uk/grassroots.