Karamu High School teacher Greg Ross knew world champion kayaker Aimee Fisher was going to be an Olympian two years before she left school.
"It was when Aimee was in year 11. That was the year she decided to put kayaking ahead of her canoe polo pursuits," Ross said on Saturday night.
Ross represented Fisher at the Hawke's Bay Sports Awards function which attracted a record crowd of 580 to Taradale's Pettigrew Green Arena as Fisher, a 2016 Rio Olympian, was competing at a World Cup regatta in Germany. World under-23 K1 200m and K1 500m champion Fisher won the supreme award for the second time in three years after earlier winning the senior award.
"A lot of people try and win to win gold medals. Aimee strives to win because she doesn't want to let all of her supporters down," Ross said.
"Aimee has always said her strength comes from those who support her. She is so proud of her Hawke's Bay singlet and those in the Bay who support her. It was the Hawke's Bay supporters who gave Aimee positive thoughts as she sat on the Kiwi team's bus during long bus rides to the kayaking venue in Rio. She was fighting for home and Aimee has always said a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter."
"Aimee is hard on herself because she doesn't want to let her supporters down," Ross said.
"Just like when Aimee won the supreme award in 2016 she wouldn't want to accept this one without thanking coaches Pip Pearse and Ben Bennett who has such a huge influence on her during her early kayaking years here in the Bay."
When canoe polo was her main sport Fisher was involved in Karamu High School teams which won three gold medals and two silvers at national level.
Fisher, who was nicknamed "Fish" her teachers, beat masters award winner, New Zealand senior golf champion Stu Duff, disabled award winner, world ranked para athlete Guy Harrison, junior team award winner, national secondary schools rugby champions Hastings Boys' High School, senior team award winner, national cricket club champions Napier Technical, and junior award winner, Commonwealth Games cyclist Regan Gough, in the tussle for the supreme award.
Olympian Gough, who won the supreme award in 2015, collected the junior award for the fourth time in five years.
"Hawke's Bay is a very rich sporting region and I'm very fortunate to be brought up in this region," Gough said.
Hawke's Bay Netball won the Sports Organisation award for the fifth consecutive year.
This recognised the fact it is the largest participation sport among Hawke's Bay secondary schools and the organisation's ability to upskill 259 coaches and 433 officials.
Cycling dynamo Ivan Aplin won the administrator award for the fourth time in the wake of his role as chief organiser and race director for the national elite and under-23 men's and women's national championships in the Bay in January.
Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy and New Zealand softball legend Thomas Makea jnr were both inducted into the Hawke's Bay Hall of Fame. Earlier in the evening Makea's father and long-time softball coach Thomas Makea snr and a Bay netball umpire for the past 60 years, Judy Sutherland, received lifetime contribution awards.
Alpine skier Piera Hudson won the People's Choice award. Despite making nomination criteria and being New Zealand's best world ranked slalom racer, Hudson, 22, wasn't nominated by Snow Sport New Zealand for this year's Winter Olympics.
Despite this snub she went on to peak and achieve two first place podiums in Austria and two personal bests on the same day of the Giant Slalom event in PyeongChang and lowered her world ranking by 102 positions.
"I worked so hard for so long and the amount of support I received after missing out was overwhelming. The Olympics are only once every four years and this award makes all the work I have done worth it. It makes me want to keep going and give it another shot.
"I will make sure I am the first Winter Olympics athlete from Hawke's Bay," Hudson said to a huge ovation.
Hawke's Bay's Tall Blacks basketball coach Paul Henare won the coach award after guiding the national team to a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. Waka Ama's Julie Tangaere took home the impact on Maori Sport award following another massive year which included an event manager role for the successful Napier-hosted long distance nationals.
Napier Old Boys Marist rugby won the grassroots club award for the second consecutive year after being judged Hawke's Bay's top rugby club for the third consecutive year, the club's premier team retaining the Maddison Trophy, Nash Cup and Challenge Shield in the Bay and the New Zealand Marist Spillane Cup.
The same side also won the Bali 10s title.
Central Football took home the Innovation in Sport and Recreation award after embarking on several new initiatives including Tiny Tots which have been adopted nationally.