Alice is in wonderland after scooping award

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BURY St Edmunds’ Alice Maguire was left shocked after picking up the Young Sports Personality of the Year Award at the St Edmundsbury Sports Awards on Sunday.

The youngster, a pupil at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, was nominated and presented with the award, sponsored by the Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo, for her dedication and success this year while competing in triathlon.

As one of very few young people in Suffolk to compete in the event and with no dedicated triathlon coach in the area, Maguire has worked hard to develop her own training regime, which has seen her claim considerable success.

She is currently lying in second place in the East of England Youth Triathlon League and also claimed a silver medal at the East of England championships in July.

After the ceremony, the 15-year-old spoke of her surprise at claiming the award.

“I didn’t get told I was going to be nominated and I didn’t think I was going to get it,” she said. “But I am really happy to have won, it is very exciting.”

Other success on the night saw the Bury Bombers and coach Jill Anderson both claim awards in the Junior Team of the Year and Coach of the Year categories, for the second year running.

Anderson and the Bombers continue to offer young people with disabilities the opportunity to get into sport in an enjoyable atmosphere through their wheelchair basketball sessions. The club enjoyed success on many levels this year with the junior team managing to win all six games in the Southern League and ended up as runners up in the nationwide finals.

Despite the success, coach Anderson was still left surprised and flattered to accept the individual and club award for the second consecutive year.

“I just can’t believe I won the individual award again,” she said.

“I am just so surprised, flattered and excited for the club to win again because we are still going onwards and upwards. It is just wonderful for the club to know the county are behind us.”

The main award of the night, the Sports Personality of the Year, again went to Haverhill’s Paralympian wheelchair basketball player Caroline Maclean as she picked up the award for the second consecutive year.

A deserved winner, the-35-year-old is one of the most experienced female basketball players in Great Britain and has represented the nation in three previous Paralympics in Sydney, Athens and Beijing and now has her sights firmly on a fourth Games next year in London.

Unfortunately Maclean was unable to attend the awards as she was helping Great Britain to a bronze medal at the European Championships in Nazareth, Israel. It was then left to Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, to some up the success of the evening.

“I think it has been an unbelievable success,” he said. “The stories we all heard are really inspiring and if those don’t inspire people to get active and involved in sport then I don’t know what will.

“I think that is the main aim of the awards, but it also to recognise achievement, even at a very local level, from the local volunteers to an elite athlete, and I think these awards have had that representation from across the board.”