London stars take top honours

First published in Sport

TWO of the borough’s heroes of the summer scooped prizes at the Black Country Sport and Physical Activity Awards.

Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas and Paralympic wheelchair tennis star Jordanne Whiley both took trophies at the event, held at Dudley’s Copthorne Hotel earlier this month.

Thomas, who helped guide the British men’s team to an historic bronze in the team event at London 2012, was named sportsperson of the year.

Meanwhile Whiley, who teamed up with Lucy Shuker to win bronze in the women’s doubles, took the prize as disabled sportsperson of the year.

It was also a double celebration for Earls Gymnastics Club, where Thomas has trained since the age of five, as his coach Michelle Baker was named coach of the year.

Baker, who became the first female to coach a male gymnast at an Olympics, said: “It’s great to get the recognition after all these years.

“As a coach you are in it for the athletes and you do take a backseat.

“But it takes a lot of commitment, your own life is put on hold to make sure everything fits around their training programmes.

“It’s been a fantastic year for the club, which is producing world class athletes at all ages.”

There was also joy for Dudley student Ross Ensor, who scooped the sport-maker of the year prize.

Ensor was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch after stacking up 500 hours of volunteeting activities across a range of sports.

Oldswinford Cricket Club stalwart Michael Boddis was named unsung hero. A club member since 1966, he still plays on occasion for the third XI while serving on the general committee and working behind the bar.

Dudley College was also recognised for its volunteer and leadership academy, which was named sports programme of the year.

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