Sam Cane's quick return to the field, particularly the world stage, after breaking his neck in a victory over the Springboks that had the potential to end his career, is what has made him stand out as the Bay of Plenty's top sportsperson.
The All Blacks loose forward, Bay of Plenty Steamer and Chiefs player was named the Sport Bay of Plenty Supreme Award winner at tonight's2019 Bay of Plenty Sports Awards at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre.
Cane also won the Bayleys Real Estate Sportsman of the Year award at the celebration, hosted by Sport Bay of Plenty to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements by Bay of Plenty athletes, coaches and officials over the past 12 months.
Sport Bay of Plenty sport manager Nick Chambers said Cane's return to the top level of competition impressed the judges.
It was his seemingly impossible comeback after the injury, recovering from surgery and going on to be part of the Bledisloe Cup-winning side, captain of the All Blacks in Argentina and his selected for the world cup squad in Japan that made him stand out.
"Sam faced some tough competition for the Sportsman of the Year and Supreme Award, but what made him stand out was the fact he managed to return to the field so quickly and post some impressive results after suffering an horrific injury," Chambers said.
"He's a hard-working athlete that's gone from Reporoa to the world stage and we're honoured to recognise his sporting achievements."
Black Sticks player Samantha Charlton was named Holland Beckett Law Sportswoman of the Year after clocking up 19 Tests in 12 months, being part of the 2019 Oceania Cup winning squad and captaining Midlands in the National Hockey League.
Luuka Jones from canoe slalom won the Donelley Sawmillers International Sportsperson of the Year award. Jones had a stellar year by winning bronze in the K1 at the Canoe Slalom World Championships and qualifying for her fourth Olympics.
Water sports featured heavily in other categories with water polo's Shinae Carrington winning the EVES Realty Junior Sportswoman of the Year and the Open Women's Whitewater Rafting Racing Team taking out the University of Waikato Adam's Centre for High Performance Team of the Year award after being crowned the 2019 World Rafting Champions.
Whakatāne triathlete Hayden Wilde was again named the Vodafone Junior Sportsman of the Year after winning the same award in 2017.
Numerous volunteers, coaches and officials were also honoured on the night, including hockey official Kelly Hudson who won the Advocate Print Official of the Year award and Chris Willett who won the Baytrust Coach of the Year award.
Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive Heidi Lichtwark said the calibre of finalists and winners was a real testament to the depth of talent and dedication in the Bay.
"The awards are a wonderful opportunity to honour the region's top athletes alongside the many community volunteers who help make our local sport system so strong."
2019 Bay of Plenty Sports Awards Winners:
Sport Bay of Plenty Supreme Award: Sam Cane (Rugby Union).
Bayleys Real Estate Sportsman of the Year: Sam Cane (Rugby Union).
Holland Beckett Law Sportswoman of the Year: Samantha Charlton (Hockey).
Donelley Sawmillers International Sportsperson of the Year: Luuka Jones (Canoe Slalom).
BayTrust Coach of the Year: Chris Willett (Triathlon).
Advocate Print Official of the Year: Kelly Hudson (Hockey).
University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance Team of the Year: Open Women's Whitewater Rafting Racing Team.
Eves Realty Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Shinae Carrington (Water Polo).
Vodafone Junior Sportsman of the Year: Hayden Wilde (Triathlon).
Ebbett Tauranga Club of the Year: Lake City Athletic Club (Athletics).
YMCA Open Service to Sport: Warren Belk (Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club); Ruth Tuiraviravi (Bellevue Athletic Club); Shirley Hooper Synchronised Swimming NZ and Netball NZ); Graeme Fair (Waikato Bays Judo); Jill Allely (Mid Island Gymsports); Barbara Jenks (Rotorua Mountain Bike Club); Ian Spraggon (Bay of Plenty Rugby); Yvonne Wicks (Waihi Beach Tennis Club).
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Secondary School Sportswoman of the Year: Olivia Cummings, Otumoetai College (Cross Country/Triathlon).
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Secondary School Sportsman of the Year: Jack Egan,
Aquinas College (Canoe Slalom).
NZCT Secondary School Coach of the Year: Ben Ormsby, Tauranga Boys' College (Volleyball).
Bay Cardiology Secondary School Girls' Team of the Year: Tauranga Girls' College Rowing.
Bay Office Products Depot Secondary School Boys' Team of the Year: Tauranga Boys' College Senior A Volleyball.
Aurecon Secondary School Student Contribution to Sport: Lucy Turner, Katikati College (Netball).
BOP Principals Association Secondary School Service to Sport: Maurice Stone, Rotorua Boys' High School (Rugby /Touch/Kī o rahi).