Worthing sports stars crowned winners at Sussex Sports Awards 2019

Ian Richards
Ian Richards

Winners of the Sussex Sports Awards 2019 have been revealed.

Four local stars teams have had their achievements and efforts recognised after being crowned winners at the Sussex Sports Awards 2019, after this year’s event received a record-breaking number of nominations from across the county.

At a glittering ceremony, at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, on Friday 22 November, the Worthing-based Ian Richards, 71, won the coveted Freedom Leisure Sports Personality of the Year.

Since September 2018, the Olympian and Steyning Athletics Club member, Ian has broken a World age-group Race Walking record, won four World, five European and two British Race Walking Masters titles.

Over the past 12 months his success has been across a range of distances from 300m to 20 miles. He was also selected by UK Athletics to represent Team GB in the M70 age-group in a UK v Celtic Nationals International Marathon in York in October.

Ian is ranked number-one on the British all-time race walking lists in his age group for 10k road, 3000, 5000 and 10,000 (all track) and is second for 20k road. He tops the rankings in the UK for 2019 in all of those events. Ian was recognised as an inspiration to young and older athletes across Sussex and the country.

“Over the last 11 years I have trained as hard as I did to get to the Olympics (1980, finished 11th in 50km race walk) and have gradually got better,” said Ian. “I am pleased with what I have achieved but I have analysed what I could have done better and am looking to improve this year. I believe if you want to be a world leader you can’t stand still.”

Marie Pickering, from The Rowans Gym, Worthing, won the prestigious Southern Combination Football League Coach of the Year.

Marie, works with people who have had brain injuries plus GP referrals to the gym and has transformed the gym to now be running a thriving programme of activities.

There is no criteria for referral and Marie some of the people have worked with include those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, cardiac rehabilitation, MS, ME, and an array of mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.

Membership has increased by over 200 people since she has worked there and there are now approximately 550 member.

The Worthing College under-19 Netball Team won the Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP Team of the Year.

The dedicated side have had a monumental year – winning the England Netball National Schools competition – the biggest schools championship in the netball calendar and the Association of Colleges National Champions, beating all the sixth form colleges in the South East of England.

The under-19 side went on to win the National Championships Finals, representing the South East, in April 2019, playing at Nottingham University – something that no other netball team in Sussex has ever achieved before.

In addition to these National titles the team won the Sussex Cup, defeating all schools in Sussex, plus the Hampshire and Sussex Sixth Form Leagues winning every match they played in.

Bryony Pitman, 22, from Worthing Archery Club, won the inspirational Platinum Publishing Group Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Bryony, ranked no.1 archer in the UK for the last four years and no.54 in the World, has had a remarkable year.

The captain of the Great Britain Women’s Archery Team, achievements over the past 12 months include being crowned National Indoor Champion for the second year in a row, and being the top finisher at the BUCs Indoor Championships. She also finished ninth in the World Cup series, second in the National Outdoor Championships, first in the National Tour, Stage 7 and National Tour Finalist for the fifth consecutive year.

Bryony is also only one of three British women currently qualified for the Olympic selection event next year.

And her team achievements include; fourth place at the World Cup (mixed team), bronze at the World Championships and Bryony is part of the team that won the full quota of 202 Olympic places at World Championships and Gold at the European Games.

The black-tie event, organised by Active Sussex was this year themed #SussexSuperheroes and the memorable evening was hosted by legendary GB athletics star Kriss Akabusi, who inspired and motivated the 350+ audience with tales of his glittering sports career and revered BBC radio presenter Danny Pike.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate success and recognise performance but also celebrate all those involved in sport, at all different levels,” enthused Akabusi.

The star runner will probably always be remembered for helping Britain clinch the gold from the mighty Americans at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.

“That was my career highlight… being part of the British team that beat the mighty Americans,” said Akabusi. “There was a huge sense of elation, happiness and extreme joy. We accomplished what we set out to do but it was not a surprise. It’s one of those rare moments where strategies and plans come into fruition and dreams do come true.”

Sadie Mason MBE, Active Sussex Chief Executive, added: “This year was the hardest round of nominations that we have ever had to judge, so to have come out on top of such a competitive and quality field of nominees speaks volumes about what these winners have achieved.”

“Winning a Sussex Sports Award is known to have helped propel teams and individuals onto to even bigger things, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for all the winners. I’d like to also congratulate all those nominated for an award and wish everyone luck in their future sporting and physical activity endeavours.”

The Sussex Sports Awards 2019 full list of winners is available to view by visiting the Active Sussex website at www.activesussex.org

If you would like to be involved with next year's event, including sponsorship, please contact Ed Bartram, Active Sussex's Event Officer: E: ebartram@activesussex.org / T: 01273 644103.