Leeds Sports Awards: A rundown of the contenders for the big awards

Yorkshire's Joe Root.
Yorkshire's Joe Root.
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The 13th annual Leeds Sports Awards take place on Thursday. Lee Sobot has a look at the contenders for the prestigious awards.

LIFE as an international diving star takes Jack Laugher to all corners of the globe.

Brazil provided the latest pit-stop for the Rio World Cup where a host of GB divers sealed spots for the Rio Olympics.

Laugher is among them with a host of exciting international assignments awaiting yet there’s no hiding the diver’s fondness for a special event closer to home ahead of next week’s Leeds Sports Awards.

Now in its 13th year, the annual celebration of the city’s proud sporting talent takes place at New Dock Hall on Clarence Dock next Thursday evening with Laugher nominated for the sportsman of the year award.

The 21-year-old will do battle with Ashes hero Joe Root plus multiple gymnastics medallist Nile Wilson for the award scooped by London 2012 tritahlete champion Alistair Brownlee last year.

And despite only returning from South America at the weekend, the 2015 dual world championships silver medallist will be part of a large contingent of Leeds divers present, with Becky Gallantree again nominated for the sportswoman of the year award that she scooped last year.

Gallantree will face competition from newly crowned cyclist world champion Lizzie Armitstead and kayaking star Claire O’Hara with the City Of Leeds Diving Club also short-listed for the young/club team of the year award.

Young divers Matty Lee and Lois Toulson are also finalists for the young sportsman and sportswoman awards respectively.

Toulson, Lee, Gallantree, Chris Mears and Katherine Torrance are among the Leeds diver’s heading to the event, along with, it is hoped, Yona Knight-Wisdom, who will become Jamaica’s first ever Olympic diver in the summer.

One for the 2017 Leeds Sports Awards perhaps?

But Laugher is among those leading the way for the City Of Leeds Diving Club for this year’s renewal and the young sportsman says the event is an event he holds in high esteem.

“I am very proud to be part of Leeds Diving and this city holds a special place in my heart,” said Laugher.

“Therefore I will always try to support the Leeds Sports Awards.

“I am lucky enough to have been nominated alongside some great athletes and I think it will once again be a brilliant evening.

“I look forward to being there with my fellow club members and all the other sporting greats representing Leeds.”

A total of 22 seats have been booked by the city’s divers and their families or friends, yet it is the City Of Leeds Swimming Club that is actually taking the most guests.

Fifty seats have been taken by the club that is going from strength to strength under coach Rich Denigan whose Layla Black and Georgia Coates will do battle with diving starlet Toulson for the young sportswoman of the year award.

Denigan will also be hoping to walk away with the young/club team of the year award, with opposition coming from the city’s diving club plus Leeds Schools FA Under-11s who are national champions.

World champion archer Joe Fairburn is another particularly notable finalist as he does battle with diver Lee for the young sportsman of the year award.

The professional club/team award is between Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with Leeds City Athletics Club, Leeds Gymnastics Club and Yorkshire Jets doing battle for the non-professional version.

Jason Gillespie, Brian McDermott and Dave Murray lock horns for the coach performance award while Hannah Cockroft, Sophie Carrigill and Kadeena Cpx clash in the disability sportswoman award. Jack Brown takes on James Simpson in the male version with young dressage star Izzy Palmer the only finalist for the young disability sportsperson accolade.

Another stellar evening is in prospect councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health well being and adults, and a member of the Sport Leeds Board, cannot wait.

“We have had another fantastic year of sporting achievement in our city, and we are very excited to celebrate this at the 2016 Leeds Sports Awards on Thursday evening next week,” said Mulherin.

“What is so powerful about these awards is that not only do we celebrate the accomplishments of our elite athletes and teams, we also congratulate many of our unsung heroes who are doing such a wonderful job teaching and inspiring people of all ages in an array of sporting fields.

“An amazing amount of hard work is undertaken day in, day out by so many people to help ensure Leeds continues to be a hub for sporting excellence and development. The dedication and commitment shown by so many across the city and especially our young people is certainly something to be celebrated and which we all should be very proud of. The Leeds Sports Awards are a great way therefore in which we can come together to recognise and applaud the success of our local athletes, and this year’s event promises to be one of the very best yet.”

*For more information about the 2016 Leeds Sports Awards visit http://leedssportsawards.co.uk/

2016 finalists: SENIOR ACHIEVERS (OVER-18), sponsored by Leeds Trinity University – SPORTSMAN: Jack Laugher, Joe Root, Nile Wilson; SPORTSWOMAN: Lizzie Armitstead, Rebecca Gallantree, Claire O’Hara; SPORTSMAN – DISABILITY: Jack Brown, James Simpson; SPORTSWOMAN – DISABILITY: Sophie Carrigill, Hannah Cockroft MBE, Kadeena Cox; CLUB/TEAM – PROFESSIONAL: Leeds Rhinos RLFC, Yorkshire County Cricket Club; CLUB/TEAM – NON–PROFESSIONAL: Leeds City Athletics Club, Leeds Gymnastics Club, Yorkshire Jets.

YOUNG ACHIEVERS (UNDER-18) – YOUNG SPORTSMAN: Joe Fairburn, Matty Lee; YOUNG SPORTSWOMAN: Layla Black, Georgia Coates, Lois Toulson; YOUNG DISABILITY SPORTSPERSON: Izzy Palmer. YOUNG CLUB/TEAM: City of Leeds Diving Club - European Games, City of Leeds Swimming Club, Leeds Schools FA Under-11s; JUNIOR SPORTSPERSON Under-14: Tommy Dawson, Jake Frood, Macy Wood.

SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION, sponsored by Leeds Bid - STUDENT SPORT: Leeds Beckett University Men’s Rugby Union, Matthew Dobson; COACH – PARTICIPATION: Paul Fletcher, Pam Hardaker, Dan May; COACH – PERFORMANCE: Jason Gillespie, Brian McDermott, Dave Murray; SPORTS VOLUNTEER: Jane Halkier; OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO SPORT: Dave Blong, Paul Cave, Sheila Gooch; SERVICE TO PE AND SCHOOL SPORT: Chris Ness, Harry Pieniazek.

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