One of the highlights of the year for Blackburn Harriers is the Annual Presentation of Awards evening when all the members of the Club and not just the Award Winners, come together to celebrate the successes of the athletes during the previous twelve months. This year was special for the Harriers with three of our members selected to compete for Britain in the Rio Olympics – Sophie Hitchon, Holly Bradshaw and Samantha Murray, the highlight being Sophie Hitchon breaking her own British Record to win an Olympic Bronze Medal in the Hammer, the first ever by a British Woman and the first Hammer Olympic Medal for a British athlete in ninety years.
Alison Leonard was the Guest Presenter of Awards on the night and she was introduced to the audience by Tony Wood, the Club Chairman. Before the Awards were handed out, Tony spoke to Alison about her season which had seen her selected to run for Britain in the European Championships (Amsterdam), and also competed in the Diamond League (Olympic Park), International Grand Prix (Ireland), FBK Games (Hengelo), the IFAM Outdoor 800m (1st) in Belgium, The New York Mile, the Great North City Games and for the Club in the Northern League and along the way set new personal bests in the 1500m (4.08.96) and the Mile (4.26.3).
The night however, starts with the youngsters who make up the Harriers Sportshall Squad and hopefully the future athletic stars of the Club. The Junior Squad Trophy is awarded to those athletes who were nominated by the coaches of the Sportshall Group for their performances throughout the year, which resulted in Isaac Butler, Codie Dewhurst and Alexander Gallatsatos being put forward for the Boys and Kate Cookson, Caroline Woodworth and Holly Bell for the Girls; The Winners were Isaac Butler and Kate Cookson.
(The Boys ‘admiring’ themselves as they pick up their Awards)
The U11 Endurance Squad Award recognises the efforts of the junior endurance athletes particularly during the 2015-16 Cross Country season with the winners Kyle Taylor-Pomfret for the boys and Isabelle Hartley for the girls having contested all Red Rose and Mid Lancs League fixtures.
Junior Contribution to Track & Field Award goes to the junior athlete that has competed in most Club fixtures through the 2016 T & F season with a combination of UKYDL, Mid Lancs and Lancashire Champs used to decide the winners. Kyle Taylor-Pomfret had 10 appearances in YDL and Mid Lancs League plus County Championships and Ben Whittaker had 9 in the YDL and Mid Lancs League. Myah Booth and Leah Hoole were the winners for the Girls in the U13/U15 Age Groups both having competed nine times in the YDL, Mid Lancs League and County Championships.
In the U17/U20 Age Groups, Connor Davison and Jacob Roberts took the Award – Connor was ever present in the YDL and Mid Lancs League plus County Championships, and competed three times in the Northern League whilst Jacob turned out 9 times for the club including the Northern League, YDL and only missed one Mid Lancs League. In the Women’s U17/U20 Chloe Bleeks and Rebecca Orrell were the winners with both of them competing nine times in the YDL, Northern League, Mid Lancs League and County Championships.
The Junior Merit Award is presented to athletes new to the UKYDL who have impressed their respective team managers and coaches throughout the season in the U13, U15 and U17 Age Group Categories. George Whittaker, Eleesha Charnley, Izzy Thompson and Nikki Saunders won the U13 Awards, with Eloise Littlefair, Ethan Joyce and Cameron Harris taking the Awards in the U15’s and Lucas Davies, Tom Doherty and Sam Pearson-Moore in the U17’s.
Senior Team Contribution to Track & Field goes to the athlete that has competed in most Club fixtures through the 2016 Track and Field season with a combination of Northern Senior League, Mid Lancs and Lancs Champs used to decide. The Men’s Winner was Tony Balko and the Women’s Rebecca Orrell.
The Junior Contribution to Cross Country Award went to the Junior athlete that has competed in most club XC fixtures through the season. Red Rose and Mid Lancs Leagues, Lancs, Northern and National Champs are used to calculate and Championships to decide in the event of a tie. The three winners were Matt Ramsden, Jamie Teare and Daniel Brown who all completed a total of 8 Mid Lancs League XC and Red Rose XC as well as the Northern Championships. The Girls winner was Chloe Bleeks who completed five Mid Lancs League XC and three Red Rose XC plus the Lancs XC and Northern Championships.
The same criteria exists for the Senior Contribution to Cross Country where Red Rose and Mid Lancs Leagues, Lancs, Northern and National Champs are used to calculate and Championships to decide in the event of a tie.This was a family affair with Chris Davies competing in five Mid Lancs League XC and three Red Rose XC plus Lancs XC and Northern appearances winning the Men’s and Lindsay Davies the Women’s completing five Mid Lancs League XC and three Red Rose XC plus Lancs XC, Northern and National.
The Award for the Most Improved Athlete of the Year went to Matt Ramsden (U13/U15 Boys) – Christie Sturgess (U13/U15 Girls) – Joe Monk (U17/U20 Men) – Maddie Elliott (U17/U20 Women) all of whom have made significant progress and improvement throughout the year setting new personal bests in their events.
The Award for Outstanding Junior Commitment is given to athletes that have shown commitment and application beyond what would normally be expected in order to improve themselves or support their team mates and the winners were Jamie Teare in the U13/U15 Boys, Emily Warren in the U13/U15 Girls, John iLunga for the U17/U20 Men and Hannah Cookson in the U17/U20 Women.
The Club Cross Country Running Award was won by Amy Davies with an impressive season long performance winning the the Individual Titles in the Mid Lancs League, Red Rose League and Lancshire XC Championships as well as being runner up in the Lancs Schools XC Championships.
The Club Road Running Award is made to an athlete who has represented the club with great credit on the roads and conducts themselves in a manner that is a great example to the other members around them and the men’s winner was Ben Fish who won among other races, the Milton Keynes and Chester Marathons in 2016 as well as the Accrington 10k and Darwen Half-Marathon. Rachel Wood won the women’s award for her victory in the Knighton 20, 2nd place in the Four Villages Half-Marathon and for her London Marathon effort of 2hrs 59.15 only the second woman ever for the Harriers to go under three hours.
In the Fell Section, The Club Fell Running Award went to Jack Hindle for the Men and Helen Leigh for the Women. Jack qualified to run for England in the British and Irish Junior Mountain Running Championships finishing 5th whilst Helen competed in the European Police Championships.
(A proud Mum – Irene – picking up Jack’s Award)
The Best Veteran Athletes Award went to Andy Buttery for his 9.32.51 in the 3000m and to Rachel Jones for her wins in the 3000m and performances at 800m and 1500m for the Team in the Northern League. There were also Veteran Road Running Merit Awards for Men and Women which went to Matt Nuttall, Chris Davies and Conrad McKee whilst for the Women they went to Claire Bridge.
Once again the Triathlete of the Year was won by Brian Fogarty for his 7th place overall in the British Ironman Championships where he was only bettered by professional athletes. He also qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii for the fourth year in a row which is a very impressive performance.
The Best Junior All Round Track & Field Performance for the Boys went to Cameron Massey having competed in 100m, 200m, 400m, 100H, 400H, LJ, SP, DT, JT plus high jump and 1500m. He turned out three times in the YDL as well as the county championships and in the Combined Events Octathlon where he scored 3228 points. For the Girls it was a case of two Winners – Myah Booth who competed at SP, 70H, 100m, JT, and 200m which included 2 grade 1’s for the shot with 9.27m and 11.8 sec 70m hurdles. She also competed at HJ, LJ and 800m in the County Combined events Pentathlon with 1671 points. Myah has been ever present at the YDL, Mid Lancs League and County Champs; And Polly Pearse who turned out in three YDL fixtures, twice in the Northern League as well as the County Champs. Events covered were TJ, HJ, 200m, 100H, LJ, 800m, SP and JT and in the County Combined Events Heptathlon she scored 3322 points.
(Proud Dad Gary picking up Joe’s Award)
The Best Junior Field Performance was split into Age Groups – U13/15 – U17/20 with Rory Teare winning the Boys Award for U13/15; Charlotte Williams the Girls and in the U17/20 category it was Rebecca Orrell for the Women and Jacob Roberts for the Men.
In the Senior Best Field Performance category, Sophie Hitchon won the Women’s Award with her magnificent British Record throw of 74.54m to win an Olympic Bronze Medal with Joe Pearse being the Men’s winner with a Grade 1 High Jump clearance of 2.02m which won him the Welsh Championships and had five Jumps of 2.0m and over during the season.
Four age group categories were involved with the Award for the Best Junior Track Performance which saw Leon Thomas win the U13/U15 Award for his 2.19.4 800m in the Mid Lancs League. Myah Booth won the Girls Award for her Grade 1 70m Hurdles time of 11.8sec in the YDL League. In the U17/U20 Category Nick Massey won the Boys for his 14.4sec 100m Hurdles in the YDL and Maddie Elliott won the Girls for her 10.31.4 time in the 3000m at the Lancashire Schools Championships.
Two very good Grade 1 performances By Zac Howe and Alison Leonard saw them take the Award for the Best Senior Track Performance with Zac running 1.51.07 for the 800m and Alison also in the 800m with a time of 2.00.52 in the Olympic Stadium. Alison went on to win the Arthur Almond Memorial Trophy which is given to the best Track performance of the year for her performance in the Olympic Stadium in July.
Hammer Throwers – Jacob Roberts and Charlotte Williams – won the Award for the Best Schools Championship Performances of the year, with Jacob throwing 65.34m and Charlotte 51.97m in the Final of the English Schools Championships held at Gateshead. Both these young athletes finished the season in second place in the National Rankings and in a year where they each took Silver Medals at English Schools and Gold Medals at the Northern Championships.
Liz Greenwood won a Bronze Medal in the Northern Cross Country Championships with a great run and backed that up by winning the Mid Lancs League, Lancashire Schools Championships and Lancashire County Championships, all of which, earned her the Award for Excellence in Cross Country. The Excellence in Track & Field Award went to Zac Howe for his Grade 1 time of 1.51.07 at Oxford and his 1.52.47 at the British Championships.
For Outstanding Achievement in Track & Field the Award went to Sophie Hitchon for her Olympic Bronze Medal, her British Record and her 4th place in the European Championships. In winning the Olympic Bronze, Sophie became the first ever British Woman to win an Olympic Medal in the Hammer. There were a number of outstanding achievements during the course of the year and non more so that in the Pole Vault and Modern Pentathlon. Holly Bradshaw won the British Championships and the Diamond League in Zurich and topped it off with qualifying for the Olympic Final in Rio, clearing 4.70m to finish 5th. Samantha Murray was also competing in her second Olympics having won the Silver Medal in 2012 and the World Championships in 2014 and finished 9th in the Rio Olympic Final after having been in 30th spot at one stage, showcasing her utter determination to succeed.
This Years Club Championships for the Men was won by Chris Davies with John Cookson winning the Men’s Handicap. In the Women’s Club Championships Carly Edwards in her first season with the Club came out on top in the Club Championship with Lindsay Davies taking the Women’s Handicap.
This years Members Award, which is presented by the Club Committee, goes deservedly to Lee Thompson. Lee has been an integral part of the Ribble Valley 10k for years now, a leading official in T & F and now in Endurance, an area which he is now going onto to higher level competition and responsibility, reflected recently in his appointment to Assistant Referee at the English Cross Country Championships in Mansfield. He has always supported and worked very hard on all of the Clubs events including Championship Events held at Witton Park, Annual Awards, Centenary Dinner etc. His children are no longer involved in the Club, but that hasn’t made any difference to his commitment for the Harriers and he takes great pride in what the Harriers have achieved and its reputation. A very worthy winner.
Ross Liddle was the winner of the Bob Groves Trophy which is presented each year by Bob Groves to one of the Club’s Hurdlers.
International Awards presented to Alison Leonard, Sophie Hitchon and Holly Bradshaw.
The Young Male Athlete of the Year Award deservedly went to Jacob Roberts who won twenty out of his twenty five competitions and for the Women by Charlotte Williams for winning fifteen out of 20 competitions, with four 2nd places and a third.
The Male Athlete of the Year was won by Zac Howe and for the Women it was Sophie Hitchon. This Award is give to the athlete who has competed to the highest standards throughout the year.
Sophie Hitchon won four Awards – the Female Athlete of the Year; the International Award; Outstanding Achievement in Track & Field and Best Senior Field Performance. Unfortunately, Sophie wasn’t able to be with us for the Presentation as she was away training in America, but she did take time to send the Club a videoed message, thanking the Club for the Awards, the support she has been given and wished everyone at the Club all success. Sophie’s parents – Mick and Wendy – came up to receive her Awards from Alison Leonard, receiving a great reception from everyone.
With performances including seven Grade 1 best performances from Sophie Hitchon (Hammer SW), Charlotte Williams (Hammer U15G), Jacob Roberts (Hammer U17M), Eloise Littlefair (Shot U15G), Myah Booth (Shot U13G), Izzy Thompson (Discus U13G), and Anthony Kent (Discus U17M) the Throws Squad with their Coaches – Mick Hitchon, Jim Kerrigan and Neil Roberts were deserving Winners of the Round Chase Trophy.