Home > News > Archive > 23rd November 2006

Laura Waipa sports supremo

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

By Colin Thorsen and Cathy Asplin

Theme for the 2006 Waipa District Sports Awards was ‘celebration’ at the Trust Waikato Te Awamutu Events Centre on Tuesday night. It was appropriate for many reasons - Sport Waikato celebrating 20 years of existence and Waipa Networks supporters of the event for 10 years.

Few have enjoyed more celebration over the past 12 months than newly crowned Waipa District Sportsperson of the Year, Laura Langman (pictured right).

The 20-year-old Silver Ferns midcourt dynamo headed off a high class group of nominations for the major award. She was an integral part of the Silver Ferns gold medal winning team at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, the National Bank Cup champion Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic Team and the Scottwood Trust national championship winning Waikato team. After another wonderful campaign for Waikato, Laura was named ‘Player of the First Grade’ national championships.

Mayor Alan Livingston was blown away by the amazing depth of sporting talent presently in the Waipa District. He noted that there were 20 nominees, who had represented New Zealand, in the Sportsperson of the Year and Junior Sportsperson of the
Year categories alone.

“Most other districts throughout the country would be honoured to have one or two New Zealand representatives. We should be very proud of their efforts and achievements.”

Graham Oberlin-Brown and Danyon Loader
AWARD winner Graham Oberlin-Brown with guest speaker, double Olympic gold medallist Danyon Loader. 327069AD

In the Junior Sportsperson of the Year section, one needed a world title to be in the running this year. Te Awamutu rower Graham Oberlin-Brown’s stellar year was capped by taking out Junior (U19) Sportsperson of the Year. Highlight of his many memorable achievements in 2006 was winning gold in the lightweight double sculls at the under-23 World Championships in Belgium. Graham also won the lightweight men’s double sculls and lightweight men’s pair at the North Island championships. He followed that with gold in the lightweight pair and bronze in the lightweight double at the New Zealand Club Championships. At 18, Graham is the youngest member of the New Zealand under-23 rowing squad.

Cambridge squash player Joelle King picked up Junior Sportswoman of the Year after placing fifth as a member of the New Zealand open team competing at the world championships in Canada. The 17-year-old won two Australian junior opens, along with the North Island junior championship and national junior title. She also placed fourth at the national championships.

Such was the calibre of entries that three other nominees, cyclists Rushlee Buchanan and Shem Rodger, and basketballer Maioro Barton will also be representing Waipa at the Waikato Regional Sports Awards next month.

Our Cambridge visitors had a great start to the night taking out six of the first seven awards.

Cambridge BMX Club, who hosted the Southern Trust National Championships in 2006 with riders from Australia, Japan and China participating, won Club of the Year.

Andrew Matheson, high performance manager Rowing New Zealand was named Manager of the Year.

Kay Hogan, who assisted St Peter’s School to plan and develop their equestrian facilities used extensively for competitions, seminars and training days, and hosts three major inter-secondary school events each year, was recipient of Administrator of the Year.

The Cambridge sequence was briefly halted by Te Awamutu’s Phantom Kickboxing official Maurice O’Connor collecting Referee/Umpire of the Year. He officiated at national, Oceania and two world competitions.

Coach of the Year went to Megan Kelly, whose Cambridge High School A netball team placed fourth at the Upper North island Secondary Schools’ tournament, qualifying the team for the nationals. Her representative team won all five pool games finishing sixth in the first grade at the under-19 nationals.

Hautapu premier rugby team, winners of the Waikato Breweries Shield championship, took out Team of the Year. Further success went the Hautapu rugby team’s way with their star player Liam Messam receiving the FairPlay award. He pushed Laura Langman hard for the major award.


It was little ironic that New Zealand swimming icon Danyon Loader spoke about the pressures of top level sport on the very day that Australian swimming icon Ian Thorpe retired.

Loader talked about dealing with adverse conditions - from stress and nerves to dealing with physical distractions and facing the press. He impressed the need to deal with those adverse conditions - use them, minimise them or throw them away completely.

He is an advocate of trying something different to take you out of your comfort zone - hence his appearance on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and taking on public speaking.

While he was a little nervous in front of the large Waipa crowd, he pointed out that was nothing compared to lining up in front of the ‘world’ in a tiny pair of speedos!