Rugby Sports Awards crown the cream of the borough's sporting talent

THE winners of the Rugby Sports Awards were revealed during a ceremony at the Benn Hall.
Rugby and Northampton Athletic Club's (left to right) Tim Hill, Lee Woodward, Janet Wright and Kay Shaw were presented with the Club of the Year Award by Cllr Adam Daly, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing.
16 April 2024

The awards celebrated sporting success during 2023 and rewarded the hard work and dedication of volunteers who support the borough's grassroot sports.

A remarkable year of track and field success saw Rugby and Northamptonshire Athletics Club presented with the Club of the Year Award.

Rugby and Northampton (R&N) sent a record number of young athletes to the England Athletics' national age group track and field championships, while a record number represented Warwickshire in the English Schools' Athletics Championships.

The club's 12 to 14-year-old and 15 to 19-year-old age groups both finished runners-up in the UK Youth Development League, while not to be outdone by R&N's crop of talented youngsters, the club's veterans lifted the trophy at the Midland Veterans Track and Field League's cup final.

Kimberley Woods was crowned Sportswoman of the Year after winning the Kayak Cross World Championships and ending 2023 ranked number one in the world.

Kimberley, an ambassador for Rugby Canoe Club, has been selected for Team GB at this summer's Olympic Games in Paris, where she plans to compete in both the women's kayak single (K1) and kayak cross classes.

The Sportsman of the Year Award went to gymnast Thomas Jones, who cemented a place in England's senior squad in 2023 and finished fifth overall in the English Championships, where he also took bronze in the vault.

Thomas also made the floor, vault and parallel bars finals at the Northern European Championships in Sweden, where he finished seventh overall in a field of more than 50 international gymnasts.

Old Laurentian RFC's under 18 colts were presented with the Simon Warwood Memorial Award for Young Team of the Year after doing the Warwickshire league and cup double, while Draycote Water Sailing Club's Jess Powell was crowned Young Sportsperson of the Year.

Rugby Boxing Academy's Byron Banton won the Mark Gallagher Memorial Award for Coach of the Year after guiding the academy to third place in the Midlands Championships, while Linsey Green's tireless work behind the scenes at Old Laurentian RFC secured her the Unsung Hero Volunteer Award.

The Get Active Award, sponsored by Evolution Orthotic Systems, was presented to Heli Laiho-Murdoch, who started exercising to prepare for a knee replacement operation and quickly caught the fitness bug, losing 40kg in a year and visiting the gym up to four times a week.

And Newbold-on-Avon Cricket Club secretary, Dave Cheney, was the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by O2 Hyper Health.

The Rugby Sports Awards took place last Wednesday (10 April) and welcomed former World Kickboxing Association champion Ruqsana Begum as special guest.

Tom Kittendorf, Rugby Borough Council chief officer for leisure and wellbeing, said: "From elite-level Olympic athletes to the volunteers whose passion and dedication keep Rugby's grassroots clubs thriving, the sports awards celebrate the borough's entire sporting community.

"We celebrated a number of wonderful achievements at Wednesday's award ceremony and also heard inspirational stories of how sport can transform people's lives, regardless of age and ability."