Blair Tuke named 2012 Northland Sportsperson of Year

By Cameron Leslie

Kerikeri's Blair Tuke was emotional as he reminisced on his achievements after being named Northland Sportsperson of the Year, an accolade which sees the sailor cemented in Northland sporting history.

Tuke's silver medal, alongside Tauranga's Peter Burling, at the Olympics has seen his name placed alongside Northland sporting legends such as Blyth Tait, Justin Collins and Sam Warriner.

"It's been a lot of hard work for me, but Northland sportspeople are awesome and I'm a proud Northlander so to have my name alongside theirs is pretty special. I'll be the 2012 Sportsperson of the Year forever, so that's pretty awesome," said Tuke.

"We hadn't really looked past August 8 for the past four years and everything we did was towards winning that medal, and to dedicate your life to something like that it's a great reward and to be able to share that with your friends and family is pretty cool."

The 23-year-old's performance in London not only etches his name into Northland's sporting history but also New Zealand's - after winning New Zealand's first yachting medal since 1992 and was also New Zealand's 100th Olympic medal ever.

Since returning to New Zealand, Tuke has been in hot demand, appearing and speaking at numerous award ceremonies around the region - with the Kerikeri parade his most memorable moment since the Olympics.

Tuke said his appearance at Friday's awards was enjoyable because in the past he had been overseas sailing, working towards his goal of winning a medal at the Olympics.

"Really happy to be here tonight, I've missed out normally at this time of the year after usually being in Sydney or Melbourne racing, so it's the first time I've been here for three or four years now," Tuke said.

"It's been an amazing ride and this is just the start really, so watch out there'll be more happening. But for now I'll just enjoy this."

Tuke had earlier in the evening won the Steinlager Edge Northland Sportsman of the Year with the Sportswoman of the Year being awarded to Fiona Southorn, who brought home bronze in the 3000m Pursuit from the London Paralympics.

Tuke's celebrations were short-lived as he headed to Auckland for the weekend to compete in the Sir Peter Blake Regatta where he and Burling took their medal-winning 49er skiff to Waiake Beach for visitors to see. The pair also took one lucky young Optimist Green Fleet sailor out for a blast in their high performance skiff.

- Northern Advocate

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