SPORTING GALA NIGHT GYMPIE STARS
LAST year's sporting triumphs will be celebrated tonight at the Civic Centre with the Gympie Sportsman's Association 2009 Sports Star of the Year Awards.
The cream of Gympie sport will attend the awards, waiting eagerly for the announcements revealing which athletes will be showered in adulation for their achievements.
Awards' organiser Jackie Curran remained tight lipped ahead of the event, refusing to concede the slightest hint on which athletes were in line for awards.
In particular, Curran was not prepared to shine any light on who was set to receive the biggest award of the night – the 2009 Sports Star of the Year.
The awards' organiser, though, was prepared to say the race “was extremely close” after voting was finalised last week.
“The voting was very close in the end, decided by just a few points after all the votes were tallied,” she said earlier.
The field of nominees is a credit to Gympie sport.
A total of 12 athletes were in the running, representing a range of ages and sports.
From the usual sports of athletics and swimming, this year's list of nominees also branches out to incorporate sports that are growing in stature.
Campdrafting, endurance mountain biking, endurance horse riding and kneeboard surfing are ideal examples of the remarkable diversity of Gympie sport over the last 12 months.
The nominees themselves have been humbled by the recognition, including Jacob Hawksworth, whose athletics prowess has him in the running for Sports Star of the Year.
“I would like to say thank you for the honour of the nomination,” he said in his letter to the Gympie Sportsman's Association.
“I ALSO take this opportunity to congratulate all the other finalists for their success and hard work in their chosen sport, and wish them all the very best.”
Hawksworth said sport was an important part of his life.
“Life encompasses so many different areas to ground us and teach us, but sport is definitely where you learn many of life's valuable lessons, (often) without realising you're being taught.”
It is this recognition of the role sport has to play in communities and the lives of individuals that is embodied in tonight's awards.
The great thing about Gympie's sport stars is an incredible level of modesty despite all their success.
Being a good winner is equally important to being a good loser.
Kneeboard surfer Michael McGuire is living proof of this.
“I consider myself just an old bloke who likes surfing,” he said.
“I'm a good surfer but many fellow competitors are very good, and a few unbelievably good.”
McGuire's success has been achieved despite chronic back pain and an inspirational battle against thyroid cancer.
“Surfing keeps my mind active and helps with fitness,” he said.
Tonight's awards will also welcome Australian showjumper, Tim Armatrano, as a special guest speaker.
Speaking to The Gympie Times shortly after accepting the invitation to the awards, Armatrano said he was excited, although slightly nervous.
As his first time speaking in public, Armatrano is looking forward to passing on some valuable insight into competitive sport at the elite level.
Gympie's sport stars will be all ears for the presentation as they begin to contemplate how sport will play a role in their future.
Meanwhile, Curran, together with her hard-working band of organisers, will enjoy the chance to kick back and take a deep breath when the awards draw to a close.
Months of countless meetings and endless planning will come to an end and the fruits of their labour will be available for all to enjoy.
‘09 Sports Star Awards Nominees
AWD Sports Star
Vic SummersWood chopping
Malcolm BunneyTouch Football
Team of the Year
2009 Valleys A Grade Cricket
Gympie Veteran Women's Hockey
Tin Can Bay P-10 Boys State School Volleyball
Gympie Masters Ladies Soccer
Gympie Hurricane Netball
Administrator/Coach of the Year
Carol BadgerPony Club
Vicki HirismakiJunior Touch Football