Runners have taken out both the Junior and the Senior Sportspeople of the Year honours at the South Burnett Australia Day Awards.
A young Nanango woman who braved the sub-zero temperatures of a Tasmanian winter to win gold and silver in last year’s national cross country event is the winner of this year’s Junior Sportsperson Award.
Paige O’Connor has represented her school and the South Burnett at athletics, netball and softball.
She is in her third year of representing the South Burnett and Wide Bay at athletics, and during 2017 had her first year of representing Queensland in the national cross country.
The cross country event was held over three days in Tasmania, where Paige was battered by frigid winter winds.
But her commitment to her sport shone through, helping her team secure the gold in the team event, and bronze in the relay team where she ran the fastest leg.
Paige was later selected in the Queensland Athletics Cross Country team which travelled to Wollongong, where she competed against much older girls.
Her “coolest and most exciting” achievement so far is being selected to be a baton bearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay at the Commonwealth Games.
Paige capped off last year by winning Nanango State High School’s Junior Sports Woman of the Year award, along with several academic awards.
The Junior Sportsperson Award recognises a person in the community 17 years and under who has made a notable achievement in sporting endeavours.
The winner also receives the South Burnett Junior Sportsperson Bursary, sponsored by the South Burnett Regional Council.
This year’s other nominees were:
- Thomas Hardy (Kingaroy) – Thomas is a Year 9 student at Kingaroy State High school and has participated in Karate 4 Kids since he was 6 years old, and is currently rated as world champion in Sumo (13-14 years) and Continuous Sparring (13-14 years) by the International Sport Karate Association. Thomas also holds the current Queensland State titles for Sumo, Sword Combat, Point Sparring and Continuous Sparring, and he trains and coaches junior levels in the arts of self defence.
- Glen Fisher (Cherbourg/Murgon) – Glen is a member of the Under 14s Murgon Mustangs team and contributed his talent and personal leadership strengths to steering the team towards their grand final score. He has represented his school and the South Burnett in cross country, athletics, rugby league and touch football, reaching Wide Bay level in athletics. Glen was awarded the Age Champion for 14 year male at the South Burnett Secondary School Athletics, and last year won six South Burnett Rugby League awards including the prestigious South Burnett Junior Eagle award. He also played in the Wide Bay Bulls U14 side and was selected for the South West Mustangs Development Squad, the feeder system to the Gold Coast Titans. Glen
also won the inaugural Gavin Cooper Most Influential Mustang award, and Clontarf Senior Footballer of the Year at the South Queensland Rugby League School Boys Carnival. And in September, he was selected to attend the Broncos Elite Training Development Squad.
- Luke Beutel (Blackbutt) – Luke is an emerging all round sporting talent from Blackbutt, and last year he competed in school, regional and state level athletics, swimming, cross country, and soccer. He was St Mary’s age champion for swimming and athletics; South Burnett Athletics Age Champion; was selected in Wide Bay for cross country, athletics and U15 football; and competed in the Queensland State Athletics competition in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m, achieving a personal best in each. Luke was also a Wide Bay team member for School Boys Champion Football in Cairns and has been a member of the SW Queensland Thunder for past two years, with his team finishing second in the competition. He was also selected as a team member in the Queensland Country Team, which played at Coffs Harbour in September. Luke’s team came second, and he was voted man of the match.
- Deidre Murray (Tingoora/Wilkesdale) – Deidre plays netball, athletics and swimming, and in 2017 she was St Mary’s U16 swimming champion. She was selected for Wide Bay in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, high jump and long jump and played in State Titles for Queensland Independent School netball. Deidre also played in the Queensland Murri Team in the Australian Indigenous School Girls netball competition in Sydney, where she was selected for U19’s team and competed in Fiji in May; and was also selected for the Northern Territory Indigenous All Stars, played in Alice Springs in September.
- Richard Bridges (Cloyna) – Richard has represented Murgon High School and made Wide Bay teams for cross country and athletics. Richard competes as a para-athlete and his community is very proud of what the 17 year old is achieving in every competition that he enters. Last year he competed in the State trials for cross country in Tasmania, coming home with a gold in the time trial and bronze in the team relay. He also competed in Brisbane Athletics, winning bronze in relay and silver in the 100m, 200m and 400m; and was selected in the Queensland track and field team to compete in Adelaide last December.
- Taylah Watt (Memerambi) – Taylah won Kingaroy State High School’s prestigious Bass Blue Memorial Sports Person of the Year award in 2017, and her dedication to soccer at local, regional and state levels is well known. Taylah is also heavily involved as a participant and coach in athletics at club and school level, competing at the State level in high jump and relay. Last year she was selected in the South Burnett School Teams U15 touch team; was runner-up 15 years school swimming champion; was selected in South Burnett and Wide Bay U15 soccer team, with Wide Bay team coming third in the State; listed for Possibles selection for the Qld U15 Junior Soccer; and selected in the Wide Bay Athletics team for high jump, achieving 13th in the State carnival. Taylah was also a member and captain of the 2017 Cadet competition with the Kingaroy Junior Redbacks; a member of the South Burnett U16 Mixed Soccer team competing in the U18 competition; and a member of the all girls South Burnett U16 team. She was named Football Qld South West U16 Player of the Series; Football South Burnett 2017 Rising Star; selected in the U17 National Premier League team for Western Pride; and is a member of the South West Qld U16 soccer team.
- Nicholas Reidy (Memerambi) – 13 year old Nicholas has been involved in karate since the age of 5 and reached second dan level by the age of 8, but 18 months ago he changed to kickboxing and boxing and has been traveling to Brisbane twice a week to train at Elite Martial Arts. Last year
he competed in the ISKA circuit in the kickboxing Kick Light Division, walking away with a state title; and in Golden Gloves boxing and became the U35kg Golden Gloves Champion. Nicholas also won Australian National Champion at WACO Australian Titles and first place for the second year in a row at the ISKA Queensland State Titles. He was selected to represent Australia in the WMO World Titles in Dublin, where he achieved first place and in October he represented Australia at the WMO World Championships in Spain, winning third place.
- Jordyn Douglass (Kingaroy) – Jordyn has been a member of Karate 4 Kids since she was 6 years old, achieving her junior level black belt and is now training with the teenage group as a 1st dan black belt. Jordyn, now 14, was placed first male and female combined self defence category for 12-13 year olds, and also achieved two third placings in sword combat and point sparring for Queensland. In 2017 she also achieved a first in self defence, a second in light kick and a fourth in board break at the World Titles in Sydney; and her state ranking is first in self defence, and third in sword combat, points sparring and showmanship. She also attained an assistant instructors badge and now helps train younger participants two days each week.
- Zak Hartman (Nanango) – Zak has had another very busy year competing in his chosen sport of karate, and is out of bed at 4:30am most mornings to train in kickboxing, karate and gym. In the past year he has competed in six ISKA tournaments where he achieved a total of 17 first places, seven second places and four thirds, including four firsts and a second at the state titles on the Gold Coast. He is also an assistant instructor and helps train kids and adults, and is currently the highest ranked student (3rd Dan Black Belt) in the South Burnett. Zak was selected during the year to represent Australia at the ISKA World Cup in Sydney, where he entered five events and placed in four of them, claiming victory in the continuous sparring classification where he was pitched against more experienced opponents. Zak is planning to expand his competition circuit overseas during 2018.
- Thomas Springate (Nanango) – Overcoming a knee operation in 2016, Thomas worked hard during his rehabilitation to prepare himself to do even better in all the sports he plays. During 2017 he was a member of the Central Crows Mal Meninga Cup squad; Wide Bay representative in the Open Boys School Volleyball; and Wide Bay representative in the Open Boys School Rugby League. He also won Nanango State High School’s Pierre Coubertin Award in 2017; won the school’s Senior Sportsman of the year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017; and was voted the high school’s best rugby league player and Open Boys most valuable player. Thomas represented Wide Bay in rugby league, touch football, volleyball, athletics and swimming and is a member of the training squad for the South West Mustangs, where he will be participating in the 2018 Mal Meninga competition. His determination to overcome setbacks also win the Caltex Best All Rounder Award for Nanango State High School last year.
* * *
Darryl Bridges, a para athlete who battles epilepsy, is this year’s South Burnett Senior Sportsperson.
The award recognises a person in the community who has made a notable achieve in sporting endeavours, aged over 18 as at 26 January 2018.
Darryl has represented Murgon State High School and participated in the Wide Bay teams for cross country and athletics, where he competes as a para athlete.
During 2017 Daryl was a member of the Queensland Cross Country Team, participating in the National Championships in Tasmania where he won a silver medal in the individual 3km event and a gold medal in the team relay.
He was also a member of 2017 Wide Bay Athletics and Cross-Country teams, and his aim is to compete in the Commonwealth Games and the Paralympics.