THE countdown is on to next Thursday’s Leeds Sports Awards which will have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ for 2014.
Triathlete Jonathan Brownlee will take on up-and-coming boxer Jack Bateson and rising star of British motorsport Daniel Cammish for the Sportsman of the Year award. And in the female category, kayak sensation Claire O’Hara will do battle with Aikido World Champion Laura Beardsmore and triathlete Non Stanford.
But cycling will also form a major part of the agenda and not just through David Stone, who has been nominated for the 2013 Disability Sportsperson of the Year award alongside powerlifter Ali Jawad and wheelchair racer Georgina Oliver. As well as featuring the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a major highlight for Yorkshire in 2014 will be the Tour De France Grand Départ which will start outside Leeds Town Hall. The Leeds Sports Awards will play host to an exclusive preview of the event, with representatives of Welcome to Yorkshire and Leeds City Council taking to the stage to give their thoughts ahead of the summer spectacular. And this year’s Sports Awards will also be the biggest yet; moving to a new venue at New Dock Hall and attracting a record number of attendees, with over 530 guests confirmed so far. One of them will be triathlon sensation Jonny Brownlee, who even in his busy schedule says he will always attempt to find time for the Leeds Sports Awards which get bigger and better every year.
“I’m very proud of coming from Leeds and will always try and support the Leeds Sports Awards,” said Brownlee.
“I’m lucky enough to have been nominated alongside some great athletes and I think it will be a great evening.”
The Awards have also announced that Asda and The Light will be joining Leeds City College, Leeds Trinity University and Est Display as sponsors, finalising the sponsorship line-up. Asda are sponsoring the Special Contribution category, which recognises the outstanding achievements of Leeds’ students, coaches and volunteers. The retailer has recently announced they are the official partner of the Tour Makers for Yorkshire’s Grand Départ. In a first for the famous cycle race, Asda will help recruit, train and provide uniforms for the Tour Makers, which will be made up of up to 10,000 volunteers across the country. Thursday’s awards will also celebrate those who do such a fantastic job behind the scenes, with a range of Special Contribution finalists including elite coaches, sports volunteers and those who encourage grassroots participation.
The evening will again be presented by BBC Sport, Look North and The Super League Show presenter Tanya Arnold, who is delighted to be fulfilling the role for a third year.
Arnold said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be presenting the Leeds Sports Awards for the third time. The event has gone from strength to strength, and to hear this year’s event will again attract a record attendance is no surprise given how proud Leeds is of its sporting community.”
There will also be representation from Leeds City Council with Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure and skills, beaming with pride at the city’s sporting scene.
“We’re immensely proud of all those who contribute to making Leeds the great sporting city it is,” said Yeadon.
“This has been yet another outstanding year for sporting excellence in our city.”
Stewart Ross, chairman of Sport Leeds, added: “This year’s event has seen a record number of nominations, and there will be no fewer than 25 different sports being represented by our 40 finalists on the night. We look forward to celebrating the inspirational achievements our sporting stars have accomplished over the past 12 months, at what will once again be a very special occasion.”
For ticket info visit www.leedssportsawards.co.uk. A full report of the awards will appear in next Saturday’s YEP.