BBC South Sports Awards took place this Sunday 5th December

The 8th Annual BBC South Sports Awards took place this Sunday at the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton.

The top names in UK sailing went home with no less than 5 awards including: Young Sportsperson of the Year, Female Team of the Year, Sportswoman of the Year and Manager of the Year.

The award for Female Team of the Year, went to Yngling gold medallists Shirley Robertson, Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton in recognition of their fantastic achievements in Athens. Ayton and Webb collected the award and Webb commented that “it was the perfect round up to an incredible year”.

Nick Thompson was voted Young Sportsperson of the Year for his achievements in Poland this summer. Thompson put in a fantastic performance at the 2004 ISAF Youth World Championships to take gold in the Laser class and contribute to the biggest medal haul for Great Britain at a Youth World Championships.

Ben Ainslie took the Yachtsperson of the Year Award for the third successive year. This was presented to him in recognition of his outstanding achievement at the Athens Olympics where he fought back after being disqualified from the first race of the event, to take the gold medal and win his third Olympic medal. As Ainslie is currently in New Zealand training with an America’s Cup team, RYA Chief Executive Rod Carr collected the award on his behalf.

Shirley Robertson walked away with Sportswoman of the Year. Also a double Olympic gold medallist, Shirley managed the incredible feat of winning two successive Olympic gold medals in two different classes.

The RYA’s Olympic Manager Stephen Park was also recognised at the awards and picked up the Manager of the Year Award for 2004. Park has been involved in coaching at National and International level within the RYA Programmes since 1985 and from there went on to coach the Olympic silver medal winning 49er pairing of Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games before becoming the RYA’s Olympic Manager in 2001. Park’s hard work paid off and the team once again won five medals, matching the medal haul from Sydney and crowning Great Britain as the most successful Olympic sailing nation for the second Olympics in a row.

Commenting on the overall sports performance, he said, “It is a great tribute to our sport, and to see so many of our sailors win awards is fantastic. We will now need to make sure we work hard over the next four years to make sure we are in a similar position for the 2008 Olympic Games.”