Dame Kelly the star of awards night

Today we can announce the finalists in the first-ever Eastern Daily Press, Active Norfolk and Norwich Union Norfolk Sports Awards.Judges reached their decisions after a day of deliberations and now all eyes turn to the big night of the prize-giving ceremony on Friday, October 19 at Dunston Hall.

Today we can announce the finalists in the first-ever Eastern Daily Press, Active Norfolk and Norwich Union Norfolk Sports Awards.

Judges reached their decisions after a day of deliberations and now all eyes turn to the big night of the prize-giving ceremony on Friday, October 19 at Dunston Hall.

And finalists are in for a treat as Olympic double gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes will be on hand to present the awards.

Kelly won the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens summer games and was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in the December.

She has also won two golds in the Commonwealth Games 1500m - in Victoria in 1994 and Manchester in 2002 - as well as a host of medals in the World and European Championships.

Since her Olympic success, the Army sergeant has been made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and appeared in ITV's Dancing On Ice programme. She is also still actively involved in athletics, running the 'On Camp with Kelly' scheme for aspiring track stars.

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Head of sport for the Eastern Daily Press, Richard Willner, said: “It's a real coup to get Dame Kelly Holmes for our inaugural awards and I'm sure her presence will add to what is already set to become a glorious evening.

“The judging for the awards was tough and there were many people who came within a whisker of getting on to our shortlists. The standard of entries was extremely high and the variety of sports impressive.

“This is a fine beginning to what we hope will become a regular, popular event in the county.”

There are three finalists for each category, listed in alphabetical order, except for the Services to Sport (Keith Peel Award) section which has eight finalists.

That award will go to a public vote, details of which will follow shortly so keep an eye out in the EDP.

The Active Norfolk Winner of Winners will be chosen from the list of finalists - they do not necessarily have to win their category.

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AWARDS FINALISTS

t Sports Personality of the Year: Jamie Chestney (bowls), Mick Gault (shooting), Jon Thaxton (boxing).

t Team/Club of the Year: King's Lynn Stars speedway team, King's Lynn Warriors Swimming Club, Weston Park Tennis Club.

t Coach of the Year: Colin Picton (hockey), Leigh Sitch (hockey), Ali Wardale (hockey).

t Young Sports Person of the Year: Mitch Goose (athletics), Hadley Jones (powerlifting), Rachel Stringer (athletics).

t The Norwich Union Sports School of the Year: Catton Grove Middle School, Cliff Park High School, Firside Middle School.

t Inspirational Sports Person of the Year: Connie Adam (fencing), Bryan Preece (weightlifting), Lindsey Tyas (horse carriage driving).

t Services to Sport (The Keith Peel Award): Tim Aldous (Broadland Hockey Club), Neil Cobb (Diss Greyhound Football Club), Phyllis Ecclestone (Great Yarmouth Sports Council), Sharon Lincoln (netball), Ben Lovesey (Dereham Hockey Club), Hazel Medler (Norfolk hockey), Gillian Skipper (Norwich Swan Swimming Club), Alistair Wardale (Norwich City Hockey Club).

t Active Norfolk Winner of Winners will be decided from the finalists