Aaron bowls a winner

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 06-Mar-2017


LAWN bowler Aaron Wilson wants to represent Australia at next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as the next milestone in his already illustrious career.

The 25-year-old was a popular winner of the 52nd Cloud Copy Click Bendigo Sports Star of the Year Award announced last Friday, following a breakout year in 2016.

A dual world champion last year, Wilson was awarded the prestigious title at a sold out gala dinner at All Seasons Resort.

He topped a star-studded field of monthly nominees that included basketballer Matthew Dellavedova, AFL players Joel Selwood and Jake Stringer, shooter Laura Woolley and Melbourne Stars cricketer Liam Bowe.

Wilson won the singles title at the Under-25 World Championship on the Gold Coast in April, before backing it up with pairs’ gold at December’s world titles in Christchurch.

He also added a silver medal in the men’s fours in Christchurch to cap a standout year. Wilson flew to New Zealand just hours after accepting the award on Friday to compete in the Bowls Premier League in Auckland with the Melbourne Roys.

In his acceptance speech, an emotional Wilson said he had set his sights on the Commonwealth Games as his next major focus.

Wilson was one of a number of winners in a jam-packed night, where the remarkable achievements of local athletes were celebrated, as well as the commitment and dedication they have displayed throughout the careers.

Pre-season commitments meant AFL stars Joel Selwood and Jake Stringer were unable to attend but both sent video messages of appreciation and support, as did cycling ace Robbie Hucker, who was in Malaysia racing, and Milwaukee Bucks basketballer Matthew Dellavedova.

One of the features of the night saw the inaugural team of Sports Star Scholarship recipients introduced.

Drawn from a diverse and extremely talented field of nominees, cyclists Braeden Dean and Tasman Nankervis, race walker Zahra Hayes, ice hockey star Emily Davis-Tope, clay target shooter Laura Woolley and cricketer Zane Keighran were awarded scholarships to help them reach their potential as promising athletes.

The scholarships were supported by locally-based businesses Peak Sport Australia, Fire Alarm Essentials and a host of individuals and businesses that signed up as “500 Club” members.

Teenage batting prodigy Zane Keighran has already tasted national selection as a cricket star for the future, while Emily Davis-Tope is a national ice hockey representative, and Laura Woolley’s exploits as a world and national clay target shooting champion have her marked as a star of her sport for many years to come.

Cycling ace Braeden Dean represented his country in the opening two rounds of the 2016-17 UCI Track World Cup in November, gaining valuable international experience in events held in Scotland and the Netherlands.

While fellow cyclist Tasman Nankervis was an apology for the night, the decision to contest the gruelling Otway Odyssey held the day after the Sports Star awards paid huge dividends, as the Bendigo star won the elite event in a dominant display.

Diver Abby Rowley and race walker Zahra Hayes were also absent due to competition demands.

Other major awards on the night included diver Abby Rowley earning the Maxine Crouch Trust Fund award and wheelchair basketballer Jontee Brown being named the Cyril Michelsen Trust Fund recipient for 2017.

Bendigo Umpires Association director of coaching and longtime umpire Dean Goodridge won the Faith Leech Inspiration Award, after chalking up his 1000th game during season 2016.

The latest Sports Star Hall of Fame inductee was also announced, with longtime cricket and badminton administrator, the late Neil Pollock, named a hall of fame member.

In the Bendigo Health-backed Healthy Schools award, Specimen Hill Primary School took out top prize. Strathfieldsaye Primary School also collected an award as runner-up.

Former committee member and 2012 Greater Bendigo Citizen of the Year, Robert Cook, was also acknowledged for his almost 40 years involvement in the Sports Star awards.

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