One of New Zealand's top beach volleyballers has won a prestigious police sports award, becoming the first from the Bay of Plenty to receive it.
Rotorua Constable Melissa-Mae Ruru was yesterday presented with the New Zealand Police Association Police Sportsperson of the Year award for 2012.
Miss Ruru's sporting goal is to represent New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in beach volleyball.
She said it had been hard work combining her sport with work, especially when she was working shifts, but she felt supported in her goal.
"It has been hard work but I'm now in the tactical crime unit and working day shifts so I can train around those hours," she said.
"In every section I have been with they have been so supportive of my sporting commitments - but I make them watch sometimes."
She said she was surprised when she read the letter informing her of the award but also nervous as she was about to sit her sergeant's exam.
"It was a day of mixed emotions," she said.
Last year her team was five places away from a spot in the 2012 Olympics.
She also won gold at the NZ Open Women's Beach Volleyball Championships and Karapiro NZ Open Championships and represented New Zealand at the Asian Beach Volleyball Championships.
Miss Ruru has also represented New Zealand in swimming and netball, having played for the Otago Rebels in the netball ANZ Championship.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor presented the award at the Rotorua Police Station. He said Miss Ruru should be extremely proud of her national and international sporting success, especially given she was in a team sport.
"Team sports are often the hardest to keep up due to shifts,' Mr O'Connor said.
"Individual sports you can train on your days off. It's amazing the range of sports we've presented this award to. We've had trans-Atlantic rowers, All Blacks and Black Caps."
Acting Area Commander Inspector Tim Anderson said Miss Ruru was the first from the Bay of Plenty to receive the award.