At the Commonwealth Games Dinner in Glasgow tonight, there was recognition for a number of the country’s top sportsmen and womenafter an exciting and action packed year for Scottish sport. The dinner, organised in partnership with Glasgow 2014 looked back on the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, as well as celebrating 1000 days to go until the 2014 Games comes to Glasgow.
Badminton player Imogen Bankier was the recipient of the top award of the evening, fighting off some tough opposition to be named the Scottish Sportsperson of 2011 and be awarded the ‘Lonsdale Trophy’. Along with the prestigious title, Imogen will receive a cheque for £1000. She is the first badminton player to win the trophy, and the third woman to win the trophy, following in the footsteps of Katherine Grainger (rowing) and Hannah Miley (swimming). The award is for performances between 17 October 2010 and 16 September 2011.
Imogen became the first player representing Scotland to make it to a World Badminton Championships final, where she won silver in the mixed-doubles with partner Chris Adcock (England). The pair beat the 15th, 8th, 4th and 2nd seeds to reach the final, where they lost out to the world number one ranked top seeds. Their success is all the more impressive, as they only started playing together in September 2010.
Imogen has shown incredible determination to bounce back from a career-threatening knee injury which kept her out of action between June 2009 and January 2010. Together with Chris, she has had a fantastic 12 months, which includes wins at the Scottish, Irish and Italian internationals.
Imogen unfortunately had to miss the dinner because she was competing in the Yonex French Open in Paris, but her mother Elaine collected the trophy on her behalf.
Speaking later, Imogen said: “It’s a great honour to win this prestigious award and I would like to thank everyone who has helped me with the success that has come my way in the last year. Hopefully there is still more to come from me and Chris.”
The badminton star was up against some strong competition for the award, with swimmer Hannah Miley and junior cyclist John Paul completing the shortlist. The two runners-up will both receive £500 in prize money.
2010 Lonsdale Trophy winner Hannah Miley continues to excel at the very top of world swimming, having won the silver medal in the 400m individual medley at the World Championships in July. She has been a permanent fixture in the top four of the world rankings for the past three years, and acts as the perfect role model for the younger athletes.
John Paul, a rising star in the world of track cycling, has delivered some superb performances over the past 12 months, which have led to him taking the British, European and World Junior Sprint titles. John has shown his considerable talent on the track, which has led to comparisons with fellow Scot, and five time Lonsdale Trophy winner Sir Chris Hoy.
Announcing the award, Commonwealth Games Scotland Chairman Michael Cavanagh said: “2011 has been another hugely successful year for Scotland’s top sportspeople, which has made it tougher than ever to select one winner for this award. Imogen, Hannah and John are all deserving of their place on the shortlist, having delivered some incredible performances over the past 12 months.”
“Imogen however, has had a wonderful year, which of course includes her fantastic silver medal at the world championships. She has shown great strength and determination to get to where she is just now, and her mindset will no doubt see her success continue. Imogen is a worthy Lonsdale Trophy winner, and I would like to wish her all the best as she looks towards London 2012, and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.”
The Athlete of the Commonwealth Youth Games Award was also handed out, along with the Scottish Sports Aid Merit Awards and Junior Sportsperson of the Year.
Swimmer Craig Benson (17) was named Athlete of the Games, having collected three gold and one silver medal in the Isle of Man. Craig was on superb form in September, blowing the competition out of the water in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke. He was also part of the men’s silver medal winning 4x100m medley relay team. The Commonwealth Games Scotland Athlete of the Month for July showed great character during the Games, and was on the shortlist for the team flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony.
Craig was also one of five Scottish Sports Aid Merit Awards Winners recognised on the night. He was joined by hammer thrower and fellow Youth Games athlete Kimberley Reed (16) as well as sprint kayaker Sean Redmond (16), triathlon’s Grant Sheldon (17) and weightlifter Colette Will (19).
Duncan Hamilton, the executive director of Scottish Sports Aid went on to present the Scottish Sports Aid Junior Sportsperson of the Year 2010/11 to Sean Redmond.
Sean has had an incredible year, with his most notable achievement coming at the 2011 British Sprint Kayak Championships where he won five gold and one silver medal. He dominated his under-16 age group with some breathtaking performances in both the individual and team competitions. In becoming the under-16 British Champion, Sean was the only Scot to win individual gold medals, winning both the 500m and 1000m races.
Commenting, Duncan said: “We are delighted that this year, due to the generosity of our sponsors, we have been able to provide financial assistance to an unprecedented 290 up and coming Scottish sporting stars, which we believe represents a resounding success, given the current difficult financial climate. We are a charity, and receive no financial sponsorship from government sources, so the continuing support of our existing sponsors is vital for us to be able to provide meaningful grants to the Scottish sporting stars of the future, especially in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in 2014, when the eyes of the sporting world will be firmly focused on Glasgow”.
Around 300 people from Scottish sport attended the event at Glasgow’s Radisson Blu hotel to join in the celebrations. Having looked back on a successful Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man, we will all now look forward to when Scotland becomes host of the next Games in Glasgow in 2014.