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You are in: Midlands Today > Features > BBC Midlands Sports Awards - the winners

Ellie Simmonds

BBC Midlands Sports Awards - the winners

Fourteen-year-old Eleanor Simmonds from Aldridge doesn’t believe in doing things by halves - she walked away with the Sports Personality of the Year award at the annual BBC Midlands Sports Awards.

Having captured the nation’s hearts by winning two Paralympic swimming gold medals in Beijing – and breaking two world records – last night (Sunday, Dec 7th) she carried off two awards at the Sixth BBC Midlands Sports Awards evening – including the overall Sports Personality of the Year.

Eleanor, who was born with achondroplasia, or dwarfism, was a popular winner of the main award among an audience of 400 people at the prestigious awards ceremony which celebrates the West Midland’s contribution to sport over the past year. Earlier in the night, Eleanor was also named ‘Young Disabled Sports Person of the Year’ for the second time in four years.

If all that was not enough, Eleanor is also due to attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show in Liverpool on Sunday (14th December), where she is one of three contenders nominated for the ‘BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year’ award.

Zac Purchase

Sportsman of the Year, Zac Purchase

Other accolades handed out at the glittering ceremony were ‘BBC Midlands Sportsman of the Year’ award which went to Tewksbury’s Olympic rowing gold medallist, Zac Purchase, while Shropshire’s World Downhill Mountain Bike champion, Rachel Atherton, picked up the ‘BBC Midlands Sportswoman of the Year’ award.

The Team of the Year Award was won by Stoke City in recognition of their success in gaining promotion to the Premiership after a gap of 23 years, and Birmingham City striker Kevin Phillips’ goalscoring achievements at St Andrews and last season with West Bromwich Albion, was recognised when he received the Footballer of the Year award.

Staffordshire’s Lee Pearson – winner of three Paralympic dressage gold medals this year,– was named as the Disabled Sports Person of the Year, while the Special Achievement Award went to Blind Dave Heeley and his guide runner Malcolm Carr in recognition of their triumph in running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents earlier this year, to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Kelly Sotherton and Gerry Thain

Kelly Sotherton and Gerry Thain

The oldest winner of the night was eighty-two year old Gerry Thain, who for over 50 years has been the coach and life-mentor to thousands of swimmers at Camp Hill Edwardians Swimming Club in Birmingham. He won the Sports Unsung Hero Award, supported by Robinsons.

Gerry will now represent BBC Midlands alongside 14 other regional finalists from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2008 in a glittering ceremony at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Sunday 14 December, where the overall ‘BBC Sport Unsung Hero’ UK winner will be announced.

Other Award winners on the night:

Young Sportswoman -  Jess Varnish
Young Sportsman – Rhys Melia
Junior Team  - Halesowen Cycling Club Juniors
Power of Sport Award – Active Meadowlands, Coventry
BBC Local Radio Breakthrough Award – Chris Woakes (Warwickshire CCC)
Hall of Fame Award - Hugh Porter

The BBC Midlands Sports Awards, staged at the National Motorcycle Museum near Solihull, were hosted by BBC Midlands Today’s Nick Owen and Suzanne Virdee.

Special guests on hand during the evening to present awards included: Graham Taylor; Kelly Sotherton; Ashia Hansen, Richie Woodhall, Katharine Merry and Tommy Godwin (1948 London Olympics – double-bronze medallist).

The BBC Midlands Sports Awards event was sponsored by Land Rover and the University of Birmingham.    

Full list of BBC Midlands Sports Awards winners:

  • Sports Personality of the Year
    Eleanor Simmonds
  • Sportsman of the Year
    Zac Purchase
  • Sportswoman of the Year
    Rachel Atherton
  • Disabled Sports Person of the Year
    Lee Pearson
  • Young Sportsman of the Year
    Rhys Melia
  • Young Sportswoman of the Year
    Jess Varnish
  • Young Disabled Sports Person of the Year
    Eleanor Simmonds
  • Team of the Year
    Stoke City Football Club
  • Junior Team of the Year
    Halesowen Cycling Club
  • Footballer of the Year
    Kevin Phillips
  • BBC Local Radio Breakthrough Award
    Chris Woakes
  • BBC Sport Unsung Hero
    Gerry Thain
  • Special Achievement Award
    Dave Heeley & Malcolm Carr
  • Hall of Fame
    Hugh Porter
  • Power of Sport
    Active Meadowlands

last updated: 11/12/2008 at 20:04
created: 08/12/2008

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