Region's achievers recognised by South West Sport with record nominee list

A RECORD number of participants, coaches and volunteers are in line for recognition as part of South West Sport's awards night next week.

Organisers revealed yesterday they had received 109 nominations from the five municipalities which make up south-west Victoria.

The figure is up on the "70 or 80" received in previous years and reflects an increasing awareness of South West Sport and its work. "They're spread from around the region, which is good," club development and events officer Mark Taylor said.

"The sports star awards cover the five municipalities in the south-west and we endeavour to get nominations from across the region.

"This year we seem to have got that. I think awareness might be a part of (the record nominations).

"Certainly with our healthy sporting environments program, we're getting out and talking to the clubs individually. And as a result, some of those clubs are getting information directly about the awards when they're doing their programs."

Taylor said he expected about 350 people to attend the awards night at the Lighthouse Theatre in Warrnambool next Wednesday.

He said two-time Winter Paralympics medallist Cameron Rahles-Rahbula, formerly of Camperdown, would be the special guest.

Rahles-Rahbula called time on his skiing career midway through last year but came out of retirement to compete in Sochi in March.

His international swansong finished in agony after he suffered a high-speed crash in training and withdrew from his events.

Among honours up for grabs is the chairperson's award, presented to a south-west-raised athlete who has shifted away to pursue their sport.

The six individual categories are: open male, open female, junior male, junior female, masters and athlete with a disability.

"Certainly the south-west region has got a good number of internationally-recognised athletes," Taylor said.

"We've had a good range of nominations from state and national champions and international competitors."

There are three team awards, for achievements at junior (primary school), intermediate (secondary school) and open levels.

Grassroots and elite-level coaches, volunteers and inclusive clubs will also have their efforts acknowledged.

"The main message we want to give from here, particularly for the judged categories, is there are lots of outstanding achievements," Taylor said.

"Being nominated is recognition from the clubs. In most cases there is only one winner but everyone who gets up on that stage has achieved.

"There are a couple of sports this year we hadn't heard of and that just shows the variety of things we do down here."

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.a

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