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Star athletes celebrated at 2023 Murray Bridge Sports Awards
Netballer Nicky Smith, shooter Andrew Heard, weightlifter Janet Smith and bodybuilder Megan Knight are among seven locals who have been recognised this year.
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Seven local stars have been celebrated at the night of nights for athletes of all stripes: the Murray Bridge Sports Awards.
Netballers, a basketballer, a shooter, a bodybuilder, a weightlifter and a tennis player were recognised as being among the best of the best from around the district during a stylish ceremony at the Bridges Event Centre on Wednesday night.
Among them was Nicky Smith, the 500-game River Murray netball veteran who was named sports volunteer of the year for her tireless work off the court.
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As well as being a mentor for up-and-coming coaches, as junior coach development officer at the Jervois Netball Club, she coordinates sponsors for the association, leads its junior development academy, organises its senior presentation night, sits on grading panels and coaches its under-15 representative side.
“I love the game of netball and love the friendships (you make),” she said.
“Community sport … is all about nurturing each other and finding a place.”
Shooter Andrew Heard was named male sportsperson of the year for his successes at the World Police and Fire Games and at Murray Bridge Rifle Club.
The female sportsperson award had joint winners: weightlifter Janet Smith and bodybuilder Megan Knight.
Smith holds national and world records in her powerlifting class; in March she deadlifted 230 kilograms and bench pressed 122.5 at an invitation-only competition in Victoria; and she hoped to attend a world championship in Brisbane next year at the age of 55.
Knight has competed internationally, too, having been named Miss Universe and winner in the extreme body category at a World Fitness Federation event in Mexico City in July, among other feats.
Also celebrated on the night were:
Netballer Leah Anderson-Morris, a silver medallist for South Australia, grand final winner with Contax in Adelaide and A reserve player for Ramblers at the age of 15
Tennis player Enqi Luo, winner of the Lutheran Tennis Club’s May Schubert Perpetual Trophy and a participant in tournaments around the state
Finalists for various awards included Amelia Farmer, Jemma and Deb Leonard and Ella Davey.
Awards give an opportunity to celebrate local sport
Event MC Katrina Webb, a Paralympic gold medallist who grew up in Murray Bridge, said the awards offered an important chance to pause and celebrate community sport.
“Sport, for me, was a vehicle that helped me not only find my personal best, but it helped me find me,” she said.
“Sport enabled me to have great people in my team.”
That was what the awards were all about, Deputy Mayor Andrew Baltensperger said.
“This evening is a celebration of not just athletic achievements, but also dedication, determination and unity,” he said.
“Sport is such a significant part of life here in Murray Bridge.”
Disclosure: As well as reporting on the awards, the author was paid by the Rural City of Murray Bridge to play music at the event.