Sporting excellence is honoured

EXCEPTIONAL talents, inspirational role models and dedicated volunteers were all hailed this week as sporting excellence was recognised at a glittering ceremony.

EXCEPTIONAL talents, inspirational role models and dedicated volunteers were all hailed this week as sporting excellence was recognised at a glittering ceremony.

The 13th annual Active Waveney Sports Awards on Tuesday evening saw nine trophies and six certificates handed out to mark outstanding achievement in the sporting arena across the district.

The roll of honour at the presentation event, held at the OrbisEnergy Centre in Lowestoft, featured winners aged from 11 to experienced veterans, in sports that ranged from BMX riding to golf.

Giving the opening speech Active Waveney Sports Partnership's chairman John Pawsey acknowledged the high standard of those being honoured, remarking: 'there is a lot of talent in this town'.

Leading sportsmen and sportswomen, clubs and volunteers were all singled out at the ceremony, sponsored by The Journal, organised by Waveney District Council and supported by the Active Waveney Sports Partnership, Lowestoft and Beccles Schools Sports Partnership and the High Suffolk School Sport Partnership.

And billing himself as 'living proof that sport can change your life,' the guest speaker, former gymnast Jeff Davis, entertained the audience with tales from a career, in which he was twice British overall champion, a competitor at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

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Mr Davis told how his sporting background had led to his new career - as a registered stunt co-ordinator and gymnastics consultant - which has seen him serve a stunt double for Hollywood actor Tom Cruise and taught Angelina Jolie gymnastics moves ahead of her role in Tomb Raider.

'These days I do a lot of co-ordinating stunts, and this year I have been knocked down by a car twice, have fallen down three lots of stairs and been set alight once,' he said.

Mr Davis, who has also worked on two James Bond movies, the first-ever Batman film and more than 40 episodes of London's Burning, urged those present to continue to aspire to reach the top and said it was 'great to see' so much talent being honoured.

The awards were conceived to recognise not only given out for individual achievement and excellence, but to highlight the unsung heroes and heroines who work so tirelessly behind the scenes such as coaches, teachers and volunteers.

So high was the standard of entries this year that judges Claire Henwood and Jane Lewis, from the council, John Hughes from the Lowestoft and

Beccles Schools Sports Partnership, Bob Harness from the voluntary sports community, John Pawsey from the Active Waveney Sports Partnership, and Mark Boggis, sports editor at The Journal, faced a tough task selecting the winners.

That led to a record six highly commended certificates being awarded this year.

The presentations were made by Ms Henwood and Journal editor Max Bennett, with the awards presented by Mr Davis and councillor Wendy Mawer.

Mrs Mawer praised all the award winners, The Journal for its sponsorship, the council's sports and leisure development team, the judges, voluntary sports sector and guest speaker Mr Davis. She said: 'I have to say that I look forward to this event every year as it is one of the most exciting and rewarding evenings - and tonight shows we have so much to celebrate in our area.'

The award winners will all now go on to be automatically entered into the Suffolk Sport Awards, later this year.