Cyclists reel in honours
A golden year for the local cycling fraternity was reflected in honours at Waipa Networks District Sports Awards on Tuesday night.
To no-one’s surprise, Sarah Ulmer was named Waipa’s Sportsperson of the Year.
The Olympic gold medallist and world women’s individual pursuit record holder must be a strong candidate for top honours in the Halberg Awards. She also collected Waipa District’s Fair Play Award - which once again, given the demeanour of the young woman, was hardly surprising.
Ulmer’s partner and coach, Brendon Cameron, claimed the Coach of the Year Award.
After accepting her award, Sarah Ulmer dedicated it to Cameron. She said if it were not for him she simply would not have made it to the Olympics.
“In November last year I pretty well gave up cycling. I was sick of training and sick of using other people’s money.
“Brendon ‘face-smacked’ me and said we’ve got eight months to get up for the Olympics. Brendon quit his job and we devised a detailed plan covering everything.”
Ulmer said she was inspired by previous Waipa Olympic gold medallist, Rob Waddell who achieved rowing greatness “from his own backyard” and she was determined to have a totally Kiwi campaign too.
Ironically she was stunned after her gold medal ride, when Rob Waddell approached her and said if he made a comeback for the Beijing Olympics, whether she would mind if he borrowed some of her campaign strategy.
She said the fact Brendon came from Te Awamutu area brought her to Waipa, but she could not have picked a better place to train.
“Council should be commended on the Velodrome, which gave me the coolest training facility possible.“
Ulmer said winning Olympic Gold was beyond her wildest dreams.
“When (Waipa sports co-ordinator) Janis Jeffers asked me to be guest speaker for this function in February, I was worried that I might come back from Athens having to speak as a loser.”
Ulmer said she appreciated the “wicked” support she received from back home. She received a mountain of faxes wishing her luck.
“Among the more humorous were one from a little girl who said her Dad didn’t give me a show, but she thought I would win. Another wished me good luck in her swimming race.”
Ulmer’s fellow Olympic cyclists Peter Latham and Michelle Hyland headed off some hot opponents to take out the Junior Sportsman and Junior Sportswoman of the Year Awards (under 23 years).
The Junior Sportsperson Award was split in two due to the high calibre of entrants. Latham was a member of the pursuit team in Athens and on his return home won both the under 23 time trial championship and national road championship. Hyland, after less than six months in the sport, was selected for the individual road race in Athens.
Team of the Year went to none other than Cambridge’s golden girls, the Evers-Swindell twins.
2004 was an exceptional year for Caroline and Georgina, winning the World Cup regatta in Munich and culminating in a well deserved gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
It was a big night for equestrian too. Kihikihi Waikato Eventing, after its FEI Eventing World Cup Qualifier coup, took out Club of the Year and John Nicholson was named Administrator of the Year for his dedication to the sport of equestrian.
Scott Nelson, a BMX race commissaire at international level, was recipient of the Referee/ Umpire of the Year Award.
All of these winners are nominated for awards in the Perry Foundation Waikato Regional Sports Awards on December 16. However, due to the high standard of sporting nominees from the Waipa District, judges recommended a number of additional nominees also represent Waipa at the Regional Awards. These nominees include Grant Metcalfe (Coach of the Year), Tim Gudsell and Nic Jordan (Junior Sportsperson of the Year) and Amigene Metcalfe, Sonia Waddell and Jono Gibbes Sportsperson of the Year).
Mayor Alan Livingston said any city would be proud of the standard of nominees for the Waipa awards. He asked for those in the crowd who had represented New Zealand to stand and over 50 people got to their feet.
“Now I know why Hamilton wants to tap into Waipa’s water,” he quipped.