Pride of Norfolk to be revealed

The best of Norfolk sport will be unveiled at the end of the month at the annual Eastern Daily Press Active Norfolk Sports Awards.

The nominations have been examined by a judging panel and today we can reveal the three finalists from each category.

Nominations covered a wide range of sports and age groups, but the one thing that stood out was the exceptional quality of those involved in sport across the county – not just the competitors, but the coaches, the helpers, the schools and the clubs.

The cream of Norfolk sport will be revealed at a special awards evening to be held at The Curve and Fusion facilities at the Forum in Norwich on Wednesday, November 30.

Hosting the event will be BBC journalist Shaun Peel, while Paralympic champion Danny Nobbs will present the awards.


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• SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR

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Amy Conroy: Wheelchair basketball player Amy, 18, is in the select 12 of Team GB and hoping to compete in next year's Paralympic Games. Helped GB win gold in the 2011 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester and bronze in the U25 World Championships in Canada.

Chrissie Wellington: Ironman world champion for the fourth time in five years. She holds all three world and championship records relating to Ironman-distance triathlon races – the overall world record; the Ironman World Championship course record, and the official world record for all Ironman-branded triathlon races over the full Ironman distance.

Ben Youngs: Played for Holt before joining Leicester Tigers where he became their youngest Premiership player before establishing himself in the England team as one of the most exciting scrum-halves in the sport, recovering from a lengthy injury just in time to make his World Cup debut in September, scoring against Argentina and Romania. Regularly returns 'home' to inspire hundreds of young Norfolk players.

• COACH OF THE YEAR

Dyson Pendle: Head coach at Norwich Canoe Club, who have just had their most successful season ever, winning the national Marathon Team Championship and producing a host of international athletes who have had great success racing for Great Britain.

Mark Spooner: Mark is teaching professional at Bawburgh Golf Club and the Norwich Family Golf Centre. He has been at Bawburgh for around 10 years. Mark regularly teaches the Norfolk Blind Group.

Alexis Thurston: Head coach at North Walsham Sports Centre Gymnastics Club, which has about 80 girls from the ages of five to 15 training in artistic gymnastics – with another 200 girls on her waiting list. Some of the girls travel more than 20 miles to attend Alexis' classes.

• KEITH PEEL SERVICES TO SPORT

Bruce Bushell: Involved in squash at Fakenham Sports Centre Association for almost 30 years. He has run the men's league teams for 28 years and been in charge of coaching and encouraging young players to take up the sport for 26 years.

Carol Delf: A stalwart within women's and girls' golf in Norfolk. She has been involved with Norfolk Ladies County Golf Association for many years, holding several roles including vice-captain followed by county captain and then immediate past captain.

Coral Warren: Having had breast cancer herself, Coral set up the Post Surgery Support Group in May 1995, originally to provide support and rehabilitation through sport and exercise for ladies with breast cancer. A Badminton Association of England Advanced Coach and Tutor Assessor.

• SERVICES TO DISABILITY SPORT

John Croxon: Started fencing in 1959 whilst in the Army and has had considerable individual success, including winning the veterans' Commonwealth individual sabre in both 1997 and 2000. He makes regular trips to Stoke Mandeville, France and several other places to support disability fencing.

Iain Dawson: Has organised all-year-round training schedules, planned competitions and supported learning disabled athletes, some with complex needs, to take part, compete, and achieve at cycle racing, locally, regionally and nationally, over the last 11 years.

Tyree Robinson: Qualified British gymnastics coach who has coached in mainstream clubs for a number of years. She developed a special interest in working with children with disabilities and convinced the trustees of Long Stratton Gymnastics Club to open a section of the club for children with learning and physical disabilities.

• SPORTING VILLAGE OF THE YEAR

Great Moulton & Aslacton: Having entered every sport apart from one in the Village Games district finals at Framingham Earl, Team AM stormed the small village section, claiming victory with the loudest cheer of the day.

Hethersett: Hethersett's ultimate aim is, by working together as a community, to provide as many sports and past-times as possible so that people can improve their fitness by taking part in regular exercise.

Terrington St Clement: Re-entered the West Norfolk Village Games after a break of more than 10 years, entering a team in every event. The village came third in the medium section.

• SPORTS SCHOOL OF THE YEAR

John Grant School: After achieving Specialist Sports College status, the only special school in the county to have this, they have gone from strength to strength over the last year. For the last two years they have hosted one of Active Norfolk's two county 'Playground to Podium' events.

Norwich School: Last year all pupils were engaged across a range of 20 sports. With the traditional sports, there is a full set of fixtures most weekends from U9 to U18. Highlights include: Rugby – first XV Daily Mail Vase U18 National Rugby Final at Twickenham 2010 (runners-up); cricket – County Champions (Cup) for Norwich School U12s, U14s and U15s.

Taverham High School: Offers more than 40 clubs and activities per year for students. This allows students to access opportunities relevant to them regardless of age/sex/ability and ensures they have one of the best participation rates the school has ever seen for PE and school sport.

• TEAM OF THE YEAR

Norfolk County FA U18s: Last season was a very special one for the Norfolk U18s – and by extension, for grassroots football in Norfolk in general. They became national champions in the FA County Youth Cup – the first time in Norfolk's history, dating back to 1881, that this has been achieved. At the same time the youngsters created a rare bond, among themselves and with their management team and the travelling Norfolk FA Representative Cup Committee.

Norwich Canoe Club: Had its most successful season ever, winning the National Marathon Team Championship against 65 other clubs, producing a host of international paddlers who have had huge success for GB and widening its links with the local community. Membership is growing at 25pc a year and the club has more than half a dozen families who all come down and paddle together.

Thoroughbreds Netball Club: Had much to celebrate – the first team are competing in Premier League One this season for the first time in the club's history. This means they are now ranked among the top 10 teams in England. This is the first time a team from Norfolk has competed at this level and they are the only team from the East Region in Premier League One this season.

• YOUNG SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Albert Hicks: The 17-year-old from Attleborugh is the current Junior Men's Marathon Kayaking National Champion and a member of Team GB. Albert followed up a successful 2010 Marathon Kayaking campaign in which he became the British Men's Junior National Champion, by winning gold for Team GB at the World Cup in Turin in June. In doing this Albert qualified Team GB for a place at the European Championships in France where he finished fifth out of a field of 50.

Sophie McKinna: Competes in the shot-put and had an incredible season last year and this season has gone on to create history. The 17-year-old competes in the UK in the U20 age group, she is currently first in the UK in her age group, and fifth overall in all age groups, and second in the world. Sophie won the silver medal at the World Youth Championships, becoming the first ever British female to win a medal in a global shot put competition.

Will Smith: The 16-year-old Dereham-based wheelchair racer went to the World Championships in April in Dubai – competing against athletes much older than him he still managed to come away with three gold medals and one silver. Will has also been very pro-active nearer home, spending a week on work experience with Active Norfolk, spending time visiting schools, motivating and inspiring the next generation of Norfolk talent.

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