Tom Daley wins The Herald Sports Personality of the Year
TOM Daley capped a stunning 2012 in the pool by being named The Herald’s Sports Personality of the Year last night.
Olympic bronze medallist Daley, still only 18, carried off The Herald’s top prize for the third time in his career.
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When the Team GB star’s name was read out and he walked to the stage, he received rapturous applause, such was popularity of the diving sensation’s selection.
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It was always going to be a moving night for the Daley family as for only the second time, the Rob Daley award, dedicated to Tom’s late father’s memory, swelled the list of prizes to nine.
The Rob Daley award was first presented at last year’s awards to someone who has overcome adversity and succeeded in his chosen sport.
Last night the award was presented to cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke – the first Britain to win the Tour of Britain aged 27 after overcoming a series of obstacles along the way, including serious bone breaks and an immune system breakdown.
Included among last night’s glittering guests, was Tom’s mum Debbie Daley, wife of Rob, who died after a brave battle against a brain tumour in 2010.
The Herald’s guest of honour for last night’s glittering and packed ceremony was Cornish Team GB Paralympian Jonathan Fox.
The 21-year-old became GB’s first Paralympian to win a gold medal this summer at the £270million London Aquatics Centre.
He told The Herald last night: “It’s a privilege and I felt greatly honoured to be guest of honour on a great occasion in my home town.
“I was able to meet and mix with a lot of my fellow athletes and I greatly appreciated that aspect of it.
“To be in my home city and be at the heart of an awards ceremony has been awesome.
“The atmosphere was terrific and I really appreciated throughout the Paralympics the support that I received from people in Cornwall who I didn’t know, and in Plymouth exactly the same, with papers like The Herald getting behind me.
“This was a night I’ll never forget.”
Daley had faced stiff opposition from a five-strong list of finalists which included team-mates Plymouth Diving team-mates Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, city fencer Corinna Lawrence and Plymouth’s latest swimming sensation, Ruta Meilutyte, who stunned the world by winning a gold medal at the London Games for Lithuania.
The other special category is the ever-popular Champagne Moment, which provides a snapshot of our athletes in what has been arguably the most successful 12 months in the city’s sporting life.
The remaining categories decided last night were Young Sports Personality of the Year, Amateur, Team, Coach, Community Club and Outstanding Contribution.
Corinna, who is London-based, said she was bitterly disappointed not to be able to make the ceremony. Ruta was also unable to attend.
She said: “The awards are a wonderful occasion. I know everybody would have had the memorable time I’ve had in the past.”
The Herald Editor Ian Wood said: “This really has been a remarkable year for sport – and a remarkable year for Plymouth sport in particular.
“The Herald celebrates everything about this city. Our Sports Personality of the Year Awards allow us to applaud local sporting successes that mean so much to our communities. It also gives us the chance to pay tribute to our golden generation of sportsmen and sportswomen who have brought so much glory to this city on the world stage over the last year.”
Keith White, MD of major sponsor Michael Spiers, said: “This is my sixth year of being involved in The Herald sports awards and this one was the best of the lot.
“The Herald’s sports awards can stand up with any sporting ceremony.
“We had over 450 people to honour the athletes that this city has managed to produce, and the quality with the Olympians and other fine athletes is simply amazing.”
Diver Brooke Graddon said: “To be included in the outstanding contribution category in what has been a very hard year for me having missed out on the Olympics and retiring through injury, is very emotional. To be part of the awards again is brilliant.”
FULL LIST OF AWARD WINNERS
Sports personality of the year - Tom Daley
TOM DALEY carried off the top prize for a record third time at the Pavilions last night after the city’s diving superstar beat a stellar cast of candidates to be named the Herald Sports Personality of the year.
The 18-year-old Olympic medallist secured his hat-trick of titles and was cheered to the echo at the Herald’s glittering 11th annual awards event and proudly displayed his award, sponsored by Michael Spiers.
Plymouth Diving’s Daley has enjoyed an incredibly successful year in competition – even by his own high standards – topped off by so memorably winning a bronze medal at the London Games.
Former world and the reigning European and Commonwealth champion, scooped the Herald’s main award in 2009 and 2007.
But back then, Daley had not been up against such tough competition previously as 2012’s standard was exceptional. In any other year, each of the four runners-up could have won the prestigious prize without a quibble or debate.
Plymouth Leander’s swimming sensation Ruta Meilutyte, who won a gold medal at the London Games was joined by Daley’s GB diving team-mates Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, British number one female fencer Corinna Lawrence – Olympians all – and the city’s newest star, the 2012 Tour of Britain winner cycling’s Jon Tiernan-Locke. A rich list if ever there was one and a tribute to the athletes, coaches and, yes, the awards evening which does so much to raise cash for Plymouth’s stars of the future.
Young sports personality of the year - Ruta Meilutyte
RUTA MEILUTYTE topped the podium and was a very popular winner of the Young Sports Personality category at the Herald awards, staged at a packed Pavilions last night.
The 15-year-old swimming gold medallist was given a rapturous reception as she made her way to the stage by the guests and athletes alike who have taken the Lithuanian to their hearts.
The Plymouth Leander sprint star went to the London Olympics as an unknown and returned to the city as one of the hottest young swimmers on the planet.
The Young Sports Personality category is backed by the aptly-named sponsor – Get Active with Plymouth University.
The Plymouth College student blew away the best swimmers in the world by winning gold in the women’s 100 metres breaststroke at London’s Aquatic Centre in the summer.
She also broke the European record in the semi-finals before claiming Lithuania’s first gold at swimming since their break from the former USSR in 1990.
Meilutyte’s rivals for the Young Sports Personality gong have also enjoyed a good year – her fellow swimmer Joe Patching, gifted diver Plymouth Shanice Lobb, weightlifting wonder Ryan Baugh and mighty Liverpool’s former Argyle youth product Lloyd Jones.
Amateur sports personality of the year - Rory Warlow
HOT-SHOT Rory Warlow was named the Herald’s Amateur Sports Personality of the Year at a glittering celebration of the best Plymouth sport at the Pavilions last night.
Skeet shooter Warlow was one of three Olympians in the Nuffield Health Hospital backed category, plus two of the South West’s fast emerging athletes.
Making her second appearance in a category was GB’s Olympic fencer Corinna Lawrence, also shortlisted for the main award.
Plymouth Leander Swimming Club’s Antony James also competed in London in the 50 and 100 metres butterfly events.
Mike Wilsmore made the final shortlist after the city’s fast-improving middle-distance ace enjoyed a breakthrough year on the athletics track.
Former Plymstock School student Jacob Dawson is making waves as a rower and that has earned him a scholarship in the United States.
For Warlow, though, London saw him fire his way through to the élite in his sport. The 22-year-old marksman came agonisingly close to making the final. Warlow has equalled the British record for getting 147/150, while also becoming the first GB shooter to score 125/125 under current rules.
Coach of the year - John Rudd
JON RUDD has crowned a year to savour after being named 2012’s top coach at the Herald’s Sports Personality awards at the Pavilions last night.
Plymouth Leander’s much decorated swimming chief, who won the paper’s prize in 2003 and 2010, took the classy UCP Marjon-sponsored category.
Rudd’s warmly-received reward came after a best-yet year for the coach in which he has uncovered one of the most talented and exciting swimmers in the country.
Ruta Meilutyte’s gold medal in the women’s 100 metres at the London Olympics came as a massive surprise to everyone – everyone except Rudd who had banged the drum for the teenaged Lithuanian way ahead of the Games.
In addition to Meilutyte, Rudd helped other Leander swimmers reach London 2012.
He coached Joe Patching to a European junior title, Antony James to a national senior crown and helped a host of other swimmers earn international honours.
Plymouth Leander also won the Arena National League.
The other finalists in this oh-so difficult to judge group were Plymouth Diving coaches Andy Banks and Sally Freeman, BBL basketball powerhouse Marjon Plymouth Raiders’ chief Gavin Love, plus Plymouth College and Plymouth Fencing’s Andy Hill.
Team of the year - Plymouth Raiders
A TREMENDOUS 2011/12 season which included two cup finals and a top-four finish in Britain’s best basketball league saw Marjon Plymouth Raiders come away with the Team of Year award at the Pavilions last night.
This always keenly-contested category, sponsored by Plymouth College, featured two city powerhouses Plymouth Diving and Plymouth Leander, plus the area’s hugely-talented young rugby union and basketball under-18 teams – Ivybridge Colts and Plymouth Marjon.
For Raiders, winning the top team prize was a double-whammy as not only had Gavin Love been short-listed in the coach category but the celebration took place on their home court.
Albeit, on this occasion, the applause was for winning prizes and not hitting threes and field goals, as Raiders do to the great delight of their many devoted fans in the BBL Championship.
This was the fourth time Raiders have won the team prize at the Herald awards, previously they had taken it in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
Community sports club of the year - South Hams Taekwondo club
WINNERS South Hams Taekwondo Club – as do their fellow finalists – reflect the spirit of this the newest of the Herald awards – making sport open to all.
Runners-up in this Plymouth City Council sponsored category were Plymouth Cricket Club, Fort Stamford Squash Club, Plymouth Pisces Swimming Club and Tavistock Specials FC.
SHTC’s founder and coach Dave Desforges’ works on the principle of striving to produce élite athletes, which the club does, but just as importantly welcoming rookies through the door, to keep fit or hopefully, to discover a future champion.
Both Plymouth Pisces and Tavistock Specials are renowned for their tireless and successful work in encouraging and rewarding athletes with disabilities. Plymouth CC, founded in 1842, finished fourth in the Devon Cricket League Premier Division this summer and are spreading the gospel equally successfully with their schools programme, bidding to attract more youngsters to cricket. Fort Stamford are a vibrant and successful squash club, renowned for bring through young talent.
Outstanding contribution to sport - Keith Mollard
BASKETBALL stalwart Keith Mollard highlighted the popularity of the sport in the city by claiming the Outstanding Contribution category at the Herald awards last night.
Cornishman Mollard was one of the founders of the powerhouse BBL Championship club, back in 1983, and his support for Raiders and, his beloved basketball, has never diminished.
The self-effacing 76-year-old ex teacher and former goalkeeper on Chelsea’s books at the time of Jimmy Greaves, was also a player with Raiders.
Mollard can still be found on match-days at the Pavilions, acting as commentator and master of ceremonies from the top table.
His fellow nominees for this award – sponsored by Devonport Royal Dockyard Employee Trust, were Plymouth Diving’s international 10m platform star, Brooke Graddon, who has retired through a shoulder injury this year.
Also short-listed, like Graddon for raising the profile of her sport was Michaela Breeze MBE, whose weightlifting credits included Commonwealth Games gold medals and two Olympic Games appearances.
The remaining finalists reflected the loyalty and devotion to the cause of Plymouth sportsmen – Mike Freeman and Steve Luffman.
‘Luffers’ is much-liked and admired for his unstinting commitment to playing and coaching in local cricket and rugby.
Respected rugby coach Freeman is another of the sport-loving personalities whose tireless service, in Mike’s case to Devonport High School Old Boys and Stonehouse Sharks, led to his popular nomination for this splendid category.
Champagne moment of the year - David Wetherill's Paralympic shot
THERE was no shortage of champagne moments in 2012.
At the Olympics, there was Ruta Meilutyte’s stunned reaction after winning a surprise gold medal and Tom Daley’s amazing celebrations after claiming bronze.
Other memorable monents of the year included the Tour of Britain coming through Tavistock and city rider Jon Tiernan-Locke winning the event.
There was also the Olympic torch reply and the opening of the Life Centre that put Plymouth on the map.
However, The Herald’s Champagne Moment of the Year Award went to David Wetherill for his incredible table tennis shot during the Paralympic Games.
The shot proved a worldwide sensation, attacting more than six million hits on YouTube and was shown on TV stations around the globe.
Wetherill, 22, just threw himself across the floor to hit an incredible cross-table winner against Germany’s Thomasz Lusiak.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to beat Lusiak and reach the quarter-finals, but his efforts did help raise his and his sport’s profile.
The Rob Daley Award - Jon Tiernan-Locke
THE Rob Daley award is presented to an athlete who has overcome adversity to succeed in their chosen sport.
The second winning of the award, bestowed in the memory of Tom Daley’s devoted father, was cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke.
Tiernan-Locke has become a major star this year. He became the first Briton in 19 years to win the Tour of Britain, competed for GB at the World Championships and secured a two-year contract with powerhouse outfit Team Sky.
But the 27-year-old has had to overcome obstacle after obstacle to reach the top.
As a promising 18-year-old, riding for French team CC Étupes, he contracted the Epstein-Barr virus and had to have three years out of racing after his immune system broke down.
He ended up studying and working in a cycle shop to make ends meet.
When he returned to cycling he then was hit by a riderless horse and broke his collarbone and suffered facial injuries.
He overcame that and in 2009 he finally got the chance to return to the pro ranks with the Plowman Craven-Madison team, but once again misfortune struck as the team folded mid season.
But in 2010 his luck started to change with the opportunity to ride for Rapha Condor-Sharp.
He impressed for them and was then signed by Endura Racing.
He did suffer another accident breaking his collarbone again and cracking ribs, but he finally made it to the big time this year.