Young Paralympian, Paige Leonhardt, has been named the 2016 Coast 2 Coast Sportsperson of the Year.
The Rotary Club of Port Macquarie Sunrise, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Sporting Fund, has delivered the largest regional sports awards presentation for the second year running with 90 nominations.
Paige showed the world what she was made of when she represented Australia at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September. She competed in six events and came sixth in the finals of both the S10 100m breaststroke and butterfly events.
Sustaining a brain injury after a car accident when she was five, Paige is a leading example of how hard she has worked to overcome the challenges of the residual effects of the injury.
Part of her therapy involved swimming from the age of 12 and by the age of 13, Paige was competing at the Australian Championships.
Previously recognised with a joint award in 2014 for the Junior Port Macquarie-Hastings Sportsperson of the Year, Paige earned her place at the Paralympics after competing at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships. She won a bronze medal in the women's 100m breaststroke multi-class in a personal best time of 1.21.31 at this event. This was the fourth fastest time clocked in the world this year.
I know I’m different, but I’m unique. I will treasure the abilities I have and work with them. I don’t need easy, I just need possible.Paige Leonhardt
She also earned a first place in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, 200m individual medley and third in the 100m butterfly at the Australian Age Championships.
“The judges could not go past selecting Paige with her dedication to her sport at the international level as the winner for the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year Award,” Trish Affleck-Mooney, president of the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie Sunrise, said.
Sixteen-year-old Paige, currently at a training camp in Queensland, acknowledged her win in a special message.
“While my dream was to make Rio, I had many milestones ahead of me. I woke every morning at 4am trained at Taree for 14 months twice a day, six days a week. My dream came true,” she said.
“I’m a big believer in integrity and respect, goodness and excellence and I am willing to serve as a praiseworthy example for others.
“I know I’m different, but I’m unique. I will treasure the abilities I have and work with them. I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”
Cyclist Liam Magennis, currently competing in New Zealand, was awarded the 2016 Wayne Richards Sporting Scholarship on behalf of the Mayor’s Sporting Fund.
Launched in 2004, the Wayne Richards Sporting Scholarship was established as a tribute to the late former mayor, Wayne Richards who was instrumental in the formation of the Mayor's Sporting Fund in 1999 and a passionate supporter of youth and sport in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region.
Mayor Peter Besseling, in presenting the award, said the annual $4,000 scholarship is designed to provide substantial financial assistance to a Port Macquarie-Hastings based athlete to pursue their sporting goals.
Liam’s father Mark accepted the award saying Liam’s achievements are made possible by ongoing community support.
Last year Liam, now under the wing of the Institute of Sport, won the NSW titles and two national medals. He also took out the NSW Hill Climb setting the second fastest time in the event’s 20-year history for all age groups.
This year he won the NSW individual time trials by over two minutes and spent three months racing in Canada and the US.
”It takes a community to raise champion sportspeople, not just the parents,” Mark said.
He acknowledged the long-term support of both cycling and triathlon clubs in the Hastings.
The Patterson Real Estate Junior Team of the Year was awarded to Tacking Point Public School Boys Soccer Team 2015 who were the first ever Port Macquarie team to win the State PSSA Knockout.
The Donovan Oates Hannaford Senior Team of the Year was won by the Port City Breakers Ladies League Tag who were undefeated in the Group 3 division winning twenty games in a row and winners of the Country Rugby League Championships.
The Hastings Physiotherapy Sporting Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Adrian Ryan who has grown the local Auskick involvement from 19 to 96 in just over a year.
The Laing & Simmons Port Macquarie Sportsperson with a Disability was awarded to swimmer Sarah McIntosh who is an Australian record holder having won both gold and bronze medals at the Australian Championships and gold at NSW Championships in the 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke, 50m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 200m Individual Medley.
The John Patrick Land Rover Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Primary School is Jack Page who is a representative football player at regional, country and state level, winning the National Title with the NSW team. In September 2016 Jack was selected for the Northern NSW Football Country squad and he has also represented his school in athletics at regional and state level.
The Donovan Oates Hannaford Junior Sportsperson of the Year – High School is Josh Dowrick who represented Australia in the U17 All Schools Hockey team that toured South Africa and represented NSW in the U16 All Schools Hockey team which placed second in the national titles.
Excellence Awards were presented to Bennett Powell, Julia Williams, Port Macquarie U15 Hockey Representative team and Port Macquarie Swimming Club.