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Friday, 18 April 2014

Life gets better for triathlon club

WITH nearly 50 new members in the past 12 months, Hexham-based One Life Racing triathlon club continue to catch the eye.

In their strongest position since starting out in 2004 as they now boast 98 adult and a whopping 108 junior members, the club have come on leaps and bounds and are one of the most active sports clubs in the district.

To cater for extra demand, and spread their appeal even further, they introduced the very popular Hexham Junior Triathlon to go with their well established event in Haltwhistle.

And to top off the unprecedented success throughout 2013, the club were presented the top prize at this year’s annual Sport Tynedale Awards.

Having been declared the club of the year amidst tough competition, the club was then awarded the Tynedale Trophy – the prize given to the most outstanding winner from the 15 categories.

In what was another great year for grassroots sports in Tynedale, the awards committee was given a collective headache in choosing the winners on the night.

More than four hours was needed to separate the nominations on the shortlist, with very little to choose between the exceptional candidates.

Durham County Cricket Club head coach Geoff Cook was on hand to present the winners with their awards, his appearance somewhat fitting given his side had claimed an excellent third county championship title in six years with mostly home-grown players.

It was a welcome return for Cook after he spoke highly of the awards ceremony when he was last invited along as special guest two years ago.

The champion of champions crown belonged to One Life as they were put forward for the Tynedale Trophy having overcome the challenge of both Corbridge Cricket Club and Hexham Golf Club to be named the district’s top club.

There was further success for the club when former chairman Alan Copland clinched the coveted sports personality of the year.

An inspiration to fellow members, Copland has long been a guiding light at the triathlon club by pouring countless hours into coaching while also acting as an inspiration through fantastic performances of his own.

Meanwhile, well-known One Life member Barry Jameson, of Bardon Mill, earned the sportsman of the year trophy after bringing home four gold medals from the European and national triathlon and duathlon championships.

His goal of achieving the clean sweep of six major championship golds was wiped out late on due to a frustrating injury, but four out of six is still not bad going!

Someone just as committed to his sport but more under the radar is Tynedale Harriers coach Peter Venus, who makes the regular trip to Hexham from his home in Nenthead to coach.

His system is highly analytical and scientific with many hours poured into it, but the intense planning has more than paid off with improved performances by his pupils. For his pivotal contribution, he was named coach of the year.

Following on from their success enjoyed at last year’s ceremony, Hexham Golf Club again featured heavily in the list of winners this year by producing three outright winners.

They completed the double when they came away with both the adult and youth team awards, while exciting prospect Matty Lamb retained the young sportsman of the year trophy.

The adult team enjoyed their most successful year with wins in the inter-counties foursomes and Northumberland teams championships and a record-breaking Hadrian League triumph.

Meanwhile, their talented juniors kept the youth team of the year award after another impressive year which saw them finish third in the illustrious Nations Cup, in Spain, while representing England.

A star for both the junior and senior teams was Queen Elizabeth High School pupil Matty, who won the Tynedale Trophy last year after a similarly impressive campaign.

This year, he has excelled when making the step-up to adult golf competition, becoming the county’s youngest winner of the men’s 72 hole strokeplay championships while also winning the international U19 Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, among other achievements.

Meanwhile, a member of Hexham’s junior team which came within whiskers of a place in the Nations Cup final picked up another trophy, although under a different guise.

James Dunn, who recently spent time teaching sport to young people in Kenya, won the young sports leader award for his commitment to coaching football and many other sports.

It was a huge year for local rowing in 2012 with the retirement of Hexham-born Matt Wells’ retirement, and subsequent international regatta in the town, following his appearance at his fourth Olympics in London.

And the trend has carried over into 2013 with two winners this year from the rowing world.

Continuing their dominance on a national level, Queen Elizabeth U15 Women’s Rowing Team scooped the high school team of the year award for the second time in a row after a phenomenal season ended with three national gold medals, and a silver and bronze to boot.

Meanwhile, Wall resident Nicole Lamb is tipped to become the next Tynedale born rowing hero, and she more than justified her prize for being the district’s best sportswoman.

Qualifying for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival is an achievement in itself, but the former QE member made it a birthday to remember as she won gold, silver and bronze a day before she turned 20 years of age.

The first winner of the newly created services to sport award, introduced by new sponsor SCA Hygiene, was long serving member of Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club, Barbara Darling.

The Ponteland resident has devoted countless hours into promoting the sport, and she will be a huge miss at the club following the recent announcement she is to step aside.

Hexham Middle School has been a factory for producing great athletes for the Tynedale team this year, and their stand-out displays helped their athletics team to the David Thompson Trophy for top middle school.

Another young athlete making waves has been Ponteland’s Lauren Beales, the incredibly gifted youngster named young sportswoman of the year in a closely fought category. The award follows the setting of a new national record in the U13 70m hurdles as well as dominating the regional athletics meeting with three gold medals.

The young people in the district led the way in the disabled categories too, Edward Common, a winner of many awards in the past, collecting the disabled sports personality of the year.

The Whitley Chapel lad’s list of achievements was already long, but this year he added the player of the tournament at the prestigious European Powerchair Champions Cup, which was held in France.

Three determined youngsters battled it out in the disabled sports person category, with the trophy ending up with Haydon Bridge’s Callum Gilholm who just had the edge with a gold medal in the shot putt in the UK Disability Sports England finals.

Rounding off another fantastic night of celebrating sport on our doorsteps, the insanely enthusiastic all-rounder Rhianna Stoves was handed the £500 prize for the Stan Calvert Scholarship awarded to a promising junior from the district.