Elite ahtletes make up panel

Mark Westley Photography'The start of the Womens Tour beings in Bury St Edmunds at Abbeygate Angel Hill.'Crowds gather to watch the start of the race.'Pre race ride out Ann Williamson, 2 Amelia Richardson, 3 Lesley Linden. ANL-150617-142959001
Mark Westley Photography'The start of the Womens Tour beings in Bury St Edmunds at Abbeygate Angel Hill.'Crowds gather to watch the start of the race.'Pre race ride out Ann Williamson, 2 Amelia Richardson, 3 Lesley Linden. ANL-150617-142959001

Competitors who represent their country across sports ranging from boccia and basketball to triathlon and race walking are set to give an insight into their worlds as part of Friday’s St Edmundsbury Sports Awards.

A panel of seven elite athletes, all part of awards organisers Abbeycroft Leisure’s Sporting Ambassadors programme — meaning they get free use of training facilities at the leisure centres in Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds — will take to the stage at the Apex in Bury for a question and answer session as part of the night’s interval entertainment.

Among the line-up to be quizzed on stage by Haverhill Echo and Bury Free Press sports editor Russell Claydon will be Team GB Boccia Rio hopeful Will Hipwell and GB dualathlete athlete Lesley Linden (pictured above right).

Haverhill’s triathloan GB age group competitor Mandy Bunn, GB boccia player Evie Edwards, England Under-16 basketball squad members Esther Little and Maya Price — both up for the Young Sports Personality of the Year — and race walking GB record holder Callum Wilkinson — up for the Sports Personality of the Year award — make up the panel.

Friday’s glittering awards event, being sponsored this year by Greene King, is set to be held in front of around 200 people after 67 nominations were received for sports including football, rugby, gymnastics, cycling, cricket, table tennis, sailing, basketball, swimming and athletics. There were also more than 2,400 votes cast in the public voting for the People’s Champion and the People’s Youth Champion awards, making it the most successful over the nine years it has been held.

The winners of 12 awards will be announced either side of the Q&A panel session, which will take place during the buffet and drinks interval, featuring the following:

the Greene King Sports Personality of the Year, the Suffolk Sport Young Sports Personality of the Year, the Sodexo Community Volunteer of the Year, the Revel Outdoors Individual Performance/Achievement of the Year, the Unison Unsung Hero of the Year, the Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District Lifetime Achievement award, the Newmarket Motor Company Coach of the Year, the Music Sales Ltd Club of the Year, the Greene King Triumph Over Adversity award, and the Bury Town Football Club Most Active Workplace Award.

The winner of the Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo People’s Champion and the Newmarket Racecourses People’s Youth Champion, which were voted on by the public, will also be announced.

Matt Hickey, Abbeycroft’s health, fitness and physical activity development manager, said: “Nominations for our awards grow year on year and the sheer variety of sports recognised each year is phenomenal. We are gearing up for one of our most successful sports awards to date and we can’t wait to announce the winners. But whether they win or lose every individual, team, club, unsung hero and volunteer nominated are hugely deserving of recognition for their commitment and dedicated to local sport.”

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n If you can’t make Friday’s awards, you can see if someone from your club takes a prize by follow the winners as they happen in our live coverage of the event at the following address:

www.haverhillecho.co.uk/sport/live-sport