With nominations now open for this year’s St Edmundsbury Sports Awards, sports reporters SAM MURLEY and RUSSELL CLAYDON take a look back at three of last year’s winners and asks the question: where are they now?
Gaining recognition for your endeavours will always bring a welcome boost and for a trio of the region’s sportsmen and women, that has certainly proved the case.
The St Edmundsbury Sports Awards, sponsored by Abbeycroft Leisure, the Free Press and sister paper Haverhill Echo returns this summer for its eighth year with the aim of once again highlighting and recognising the outstanding achievements made by men, women and juniors as well as showcasing the sporting efforts made in the borough of St Edmundsbury.
Awards on the night will once again include: Sports Personality, Young Sports Personality, Young Community Volunteer, Junior and Senior Team, Unsung Hero, Lifetime Achievement, Triumph Over Adversity and the People’s Champion, as well as the newly-created Most Active Workplace award.
For previous winner Brian Alldis, who received the Lifetime Achievement award last year, the past 12 months have certainly heralded promising signs for future success.
Since picking up his award, the 27-year-old Bury St Edmunds-based handcyclist has seen his hard work reap rewards on the international stage claiming seventh, fourth and 12th place finishes at recent championships, as well as clinching his first points for Paralympics GB with a ninth place finish at his first World Cup event in March,
And Alldis, who is now preparing for the World Cup in Spain later this month, hailed the impact of his award as he set his sights on World Cup and Paralympic Games glory.
“Receiving the lifetime achievement award was an amazing honour,” he said. “I had done a lot of hard work in the last few yards and it was great to be recognised for that.
“It gave me a massive boost going into my winter training and it was lovely to see my work pay off, it gave me that drive to go again.
“However, hopefully it won’t be the last award I win and although it was a lifetime achievement one I’m hopeful of still achieving a lot more in sport.
“It is going to be a massive couple of years coming up for me with my aim of reaching the Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in two years time.
“It would be great to win the sports personality award this time round but there are so many talented sports people within the region, just being nominated is an honour.”
Another athlete who will also be hoping to be in the running for that award last year’s winner Alan Macpherson.
Since picking up the accolade, the 41-year-old, who lives in Great Wheltenham, near Bury, has continued to conquer daunting long distance challenges including his recent completion of the Double Enduroman UK event in the New Forest consisting of 4.8 mile swim, 232-mile cycle and a double marathon.
And for ‘Mr Mad’, who has also competed at the Ultraman World Championships in the event’s spiritual home of Hawaii, echoed the sentiments of Alldis as he praised the effect of the impact of gaining recognition.
“To be recognised with the award was very surprising, I was gobsmacked” he said. “It gave me the feeling that I was doing something right and that was a massive boost going into the training for the Double Enduroman.”
“It was a great feeling just to be nominated but to win was truly amazing.
“It is brilliant to realise a minority sport like mine can be recognised and hopefully that will be an inspiration to others.”
* King Edward VI Upper School pupil Georgia Allen’s blossoming football career continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Since winning the St Edmundsbury Young Sports Personality of the Year award last September, the Arsenal Ladies Under-17s midfielder has gone on to firmly establish herself in the England Under-17s squad.
The Bury St Edmunds-based player took part in a UEFA Development Tournament at St George’s Park in April, impressing her coaches enough across three matches to remain in a cut-down 18-player squad selected to compete in the Nordic Competition in Sweden from Tuesday this week until next Thursday.
“It is absolutely brilliant and this is the most excited I have ever been for a competition,” she said ahead of group games against the Netherlands (today), Iceland (tomorrow) and Sweden (Monday) in Uddevalla, where she is targeting her next milestone — her first competitive goal.
Allen, a vice-captain at Arsenal, started her career in the Ipswich Town Under-10s Centre of Excellence squad after being spotted by a scout at the tender age of six.
And she is already looking further ahead with her goals, looking eventually break into the Arsenal Ladies’ senior squad and then the senior England team.