Tom's hat-trick in fine year for sport
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.
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.
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.
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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."