Olympic star hails People’s Champion

MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Easgate Amateur Boxing Club coach Mick Bryant receives his People's Champion award from Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo and Abbeycroft Leisure trustee Sarah Howard at the St Edmundsbury Sports Awards on Friday night
MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Easgate Amateur Boxing Club coach Mick Bryant receives his People's Champion award from Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo and Abbeycroft Leisure trustee Sarah Howard at the St Edmundsbury Sports Awards on Friday night

OLYMPIC bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo hailed Eastgate Amateur Boxing Club’s Mick Bryant for ‘making sportsmen’ after Bryant won the People’s Champion accolade at the St Edmundsbury Sports Awards on Friday.

More than 1,000 votes were cast by the readers of the Free Press and sister paper Haverhill Echo, as well as visitors to Abbeycroft Leisure’s website, with boxing coach Bryant receiving more than any of the other 61 nominees to pick up the final award of the evening.

Ogogo presented the awards — including Sports Personality of the Year to swimmer Tom Cole and Elite Sports Personality of the Year to triathlete Adrian Barbrooke — but he admitted he was particularly proud to present Bryant with his trophy.

“People like Mick, who give up their time out of the goodness of their own heart because they love what they do, I can’t thank enough,” said Ogogo. “I have the utmost respect for them because they make sportsmen in my eyes.”

Bryant said: “I’m really honoured and very grateful that so many people voted for me.

“We’ve got some good youngsters coming through at Eastgate and I have got a good support team there of four or five really good coaches.

“It’s all down to the help I get from these fantastic coaches, they all give a lot of their time up — it’s not all down to me, it’s down to those boys who help me.”

Lowestoft boxer Ogogo also believes Harry Hughes could have an exciting future in javelin after hearing of the 14-year-old’s achievements that won him Young Sports Personality of the Year, sponsored by the Free Press and sister paper Haverhill Echo.

Olympic prospect Hughes, of Danecourt Avenue, Stowmarket, said: “It’s been an amazing year, so I’d like to say thanks to my coaches, my family and everyone who has helped me out and supported me.

“Winning awards like this builds your self-esteem and confidence a lot.

“Hopefully I can go international in the next couple of years and see what happens from there, but Team GB is the next thing for me.

“The Rio Olympics (2016) might come too soon for me, but I would love to make it to the 2020 Games.”

Ogogo was also delighted to present Brendan Clifford with the Triumph Over Adversity accolade.

Clifford, who has cerebral palsy, was chosen to receive the award for his determined attitude to take part in sport with able-bodied children at school, as well as his success in athletics that has made him a hope for the next Paralympics.

“I was quite touched when he won that because he was so happy,” said Ogogo. “Whether it’s an Olympic medal or local award, it’s brilliant — you can see the joy it brings people, and hear it from the cheers when people were winning.”

There were 500 guests present at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds for the awards evening, with the accolades handed out to men, women and clubs from a range of different sports.

West Suffolk Swimming Club were the first winners of the night, picking up the Club of the Year award, before Bury Spectrum Gymnastics Club’s Ken Neale was presented with the Unsung Hero accolade.

Snooker coach Tim Squires, from Haverhill, won the Contribution to Disability Sport award, before Sporting 87 Football Club’s Cameron Mellor picked up the trophy for Young Community Volunteer.

Bury St Edmunds’ King Edward VI School was named School of the Year and CFC Bury Under-10s football team were presented with the Junior Team of the Year award.

Haverhill Rugby Club’s Neal Denty won Coach of the Year, fending off the challenge of back-to-back winner Jill Anderson (Bury Bombers) and Bury Town boss Richard Wilkins, with Neville Pettitt’s role at the West Suffolk Wheelers recognised with the Lifetime Achievement award.

Bury Bombers wheelchair basketball team picked up their sixth accolade in three years at the event, winning the Senior Team of the Year award.

Ending the awards, Ogogo encouraged those with a sporting dream to make sure they follow it.

He said: “I can remember sitting at Lowestoft Town Hall for exactly the same sort of awards seven or eight years ago and I dreamed of going to an Olympic Games and winning a medal for my country.

“I was no different than to everyone nominated for these.

“People see me with my medal and think it is unobtainable, and I hate that attitude because anybody can achieve what they want if they work hard and put their mind to it.”