OVERALL ATHLETE OF THE YEAR Pamela Hughes of Westport AC was presented with the main award of the night by Mary O’Malley of the Mayo Athletics Board and Denise Horan, Editor of The Mayo News. Pics: Michael Donnelly
High jumpers dominate awards
WESTPORT high-jumper Pamela Hughes was crowned Mayo News Mayo overall athlete of the year for the second time last Friday night at Hotel Westport.
The local teenager was selected from a top class field of nominees after a string of impressive performances in 2006 despite missing the outdoor season due to injury.
Last year Pamela won gold in the All-Ireland girls U-18 Championships, gold in the Junior Championships of Ireland, and a silver medal in the Senior Indoor Championships in Belfast.
“I’m delighted to win back-to-back athlete of the year awards,” she said. “I would like to pay great credit to my coach, Ernie Deacy and my family for all their support. It was very frustrating last year to be injured and miss the outdoor season but finishing first in the All-Ireland U-18 competition was probably the highlight for me.”
Pamela actually left for home with two awards on the night as she was also selected as the junior athlete of the year.
Sharon Heveran was also among the big winners on the night. The high-jump champion from Tourmakeady was awarded the senior athlete of the year award after an incredible season which saw her win the Ladies Senior Indoor Championships of Ireland, the National U-23 Championships and the British Universities Championships to mention just a few.
Sharon was unavoidably absent from the ceremony at Hotel Westport due to a competition in Cardiff last weekend but her father, Tommy, accepted the award on her behalf.
A large crowd also travelled from Belmullet to see Sheila Mangan pick up the Hall of Fame award, a just reward for her sterling work with St Deirbhle’s over a ten year period.
The night began with the Juvenile Female Track and Field athlete of the year award being presented to joint winners, Jenny Hughes of Westport AC and Aisling Costello from Claremorris AC.
Both Jenny and Aisling had the distinction of winning gold medals in both the indoor and outdoor high jump at the All-Ireland Championships last season.
The Juvenile Male Track and Field athlete of the year award was also shared with Westport AC team-mates, Cian McManamon and Laimonas Ruibys sharing the honours.
Cian was the All-Ireland indoor and outdoor boys U-16 race-walk champion last year while Laimonas won a plethora of Connacht and All-Ireland medals for the shot-putt, javelin and hammer-throw.
The International Achievement award was presented to Gerard Kelly (16) of Castlebar AC in recognition of his outstanding displays in the hammer last year.
Gerard was selected to represent Ireland twice and also won three gold medals at prestigious national and inter-provincial competitions.
Meanwhile, the Juvenile Female Cross-Country athlete of the year award went to Aoife Mulroy from Swinford AC.
In only her second season with the club Aoife excelled in combined events last year but it was her seventh place finish in the All-Irelands that earned her this accolade.
Daniel Murray of Ballina AC was presented with the Juvenile Male Cross-Country athlete of the year award.
Last year he won both the Mayo and Connacht U-15 and U-16 competitions, and a fourth place finish in the All-Ireland U-15 final was the highlight of an incredible season.
Breege Blehein-McHale of Mayo AC left with the masters athlete of the year accolade after a year where she won a whole host of national medals in cross country, road racing and track and field.
A hat-trick of gold medals at the AAI National Masters Track and Field Championships in the V2 category in the 800m, 1500m and 300m were just some of the high points in her season.
The Juvenile Track and Field and overall club of the year awards were both won by Westport AC while Swinford AC topped the Juvenile Cross-Country category.
THE special guests on the night were a group of Special Olympic athletes from Mayo who have been selected for the national team to compete at the World Games in September.
Presentations were made to all seven athletes, Deirdre Garvin, Ian O’Donnell, Mary Henry, Patricia McNicholas, Edel Hannon, Edel Doyle and Gary Diamond.
A presentation was also made to Christopher Heverin who competed in the European Special Olympic Games last year and won a gold medal in the long jump.