It has been an amazing year for Army sporting achievements. With Rio and the USA-hosted Invictus games in Orlando still fresh in our minds, it was fitting to recognise our sporting success in appropriate style at a special awards ceremony at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. From the historic Indian Army Room reception to the transformed dining room in Old College, it was a glittering affair for the lucky 250 invited guests all dressed in military finery. Lieutenant Colonel Steve Davis provided the anchor and compered the evening and with the double act of Jon Knighton of BFBS interviewing the nominees it was a tremendous platform to celebrate the achievements of our best army sports men and women. General Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, sponsors, and a host of other senior military guests joined the many athletes from all ranks of the Army representing the wide diversity of sporting pursuits from athletics to football and from karate to wakeboarding!
The Army’s own superstar, double gold olympian, Major Heather Stanning was able to provide an inspiration to many in the room as she shared her recent success experience at the Rio games. She also used the occasion to announce her retirement from rowing, and a return to a full-time Army career. Receiving a special award to recognise her achievements, she went on to say “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had the rowing career I’ve had. I feel very lucky to have met with the people and worked with the coaches I have, and especially Helen and Robin and formed the partnership we’ve had for the last six years.”
Included amongst our many successful athletes were the paralympians and invictus stars. If any inspiration was needed it has to be just to hear and reflect on the fabulous success each has achieved following life-changing injury. Dave Henson and Nick Beighton, Olympic and Invictus medal winners were joined by Nerys Pearce who has become a force to be reckoned with as she starred in Orlando and crowned that with a Great Britain Gold in weightlifting. A champion in the pool and in a wheelchair on the track, this multi talented former corporal now has her sights set on skiing at Pyeong Chang in the 2018 paralympic winter games.
It was therefore an inspiring and uplifting evening for the athletes, officials and many unsung heroes that help deliver sport in the army. Finally, we should not forget the vital role played by generous sponsors from industry adding to the rich mix that enables our service men and women to enjoy such quality and diversity of activities.
Forces TV coverage – http://forces.tv/31355683
The 2016 Army Sports Awards winners:
RISING STAR – Lance Corporal Alhagie Drammeh – Athletics
The Army’s only international track athlete. LCpl Drammeh of 4 RIFLES became West German 400m champion, narrowly missing out on Olympic qualification for his native Gambia. He’s now targeting the 2017 World Championships in London.
SPORTS OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – WO2 Andy Halliday – Football (at right)
Andy is a Premier League official, and was appointed assistant referee at this year’s FA Cup final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley.
TEAM OF THE YEAR – Army Karate Team
ADAPTIVE SPORTS ATHLETE – Captain (Retd) Dave Henson MBE (at right)
Dave Henson joined the Army in 2008 and served in the Royal Engineers. He lost both legs in an IED strike in Afghanistan in February 2011. He has become a successful competitive swimmer, and at the 2016 Invictus Games Dave set a world best time of 25.04 and went on to win a bronze medal at the Rio Paralympics
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR – Corporal Stephanie Wroe – Boxing (at right)
Steph won the Southern Area welterweight belt before becoming Elite Welterweight champion of England then went on to claim the British Welterweight title. She’s now in pole position to follow in the footsteps of Nicola Adams to the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR -Sergeant Dale Crossley – Wakeboarding (at right)
Dale was the first serving soldier ever to win the national championship and is the current men’s masters world number one, while also continuing his role as a troop Reconnaissance Sgt with 22 Engineer Regiment. He arrived straight from the plane, having returned from Mexico where he won the 2016 World Championships in Wakeboarding!
MAJOR UNIT – 14 Regiment RA
MINOR UNIT – AFC Harrogate
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – Brian Mower (Hockey) (at right)