Minor sports enjoy their day in the sun
Two self-funded sports were the big winners at the Porirua Sports Awards last Thursday night.
World champion underwater hockey player Elle Hocking was a popular winner of the individual sportswoman and took home the Michael Campbell Trophy in claiming the premier award.
Emma Symonds won the young sportswoman gong for her efforts in the sport.
Hocking said it was an amazing night for her and underwater hockey, which she has devoted more than a decade to.
‘‘It was an incredible night and I think there were a lot of astonished people when I won.
‘‘It’s tremendous to get recognition for our sport – we’re selffunded so every little bit of publicity helps. It might make a few people want to give it a go.’’
The next world champs are in South Africa in 2016 and the build- up to New Zealand defending their world title begins in earnest early next year, she said.
‘‘We want more people playing and trialling, participating in interclub and nationals.
‘‘We went in as underdogs at the world champs [last year, in Hungary] but now there’s pressure to repeat, so we’ll be going hard to do that.’’
Hocking said she enjoyed rubbing shoulders with Porirua’s best sportspeople last Thursday and the evening was superbly organised.
Individual sportsman winner Bevan Kelly, a barefoot waterskier, said it was great to get the endorsement that all his hard work had paid off.
The Pauatahanui resident said he hoped his world champion status held him in good stead with the judges, ‘‘but you never really know with these things’’.
He can recall being nominated for the awards in 1991.
He was also world champion in 2010, but had a few years away from the sport after that. ‘‘It was a great honour,’’ he said. ‘‘I achieved a lot of personal goals in winning the world’s and something like this is nice for the sport.’’
Like Hocking, Kelly is eyeing a defence of his title in 2016, likely in the United States.
Though he learnt to waterski around Paremata, he does most of his barefoot training in Wairarapa.
Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu gave an inspiring speech at the awards.
She had words of advice for her 18-year-old self, on the brink of national netball selection.
Her messages: if you never start, you’ll never know how good you’ll be; hard work is hard; hard work is no guarantee of success; cherish the relationships of friends and family; and only you know how far you can go.
Taumaunu said she had faced tough times in her playing and coaching careers, and that it took courage to get up again when things had not gone well.
Big win: Elle Hocking was shocked to win the premier award at the Porirua Sports Awards. MC Stu Smith is on the right.