Two world titles in the space of just hours. It's easy to see why Olympian Sarah Walker is the Bay of Plenty Sports Award's supreme winner once again.
In the cut-throat cycling discipline of BMX, where one hundredth of a second makes a champion, the former Kawerau Kid is the world's undisputed Princess of Pedalling.
The 21-year-old received the Bay's biggest sporting accolade at Tauranga's Baypark last night with more than 450 athletes, administrators, coaches, parents and supporters on hand for the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic-sponsored awards.
It was Walker's second win of the supreme Bay title in three years and she becomes the first multiple winner in the 39 years since the award was first presented, in 1970, to the late Jack Foster.
Walker is just the 10th female winner of the overall award. Last night, she also picked up the Sportswoman of the Year award for the third consecutive time and became the first three-time winner in that category.
It was in Adelaide in late July that Walker created the highlight of her career "so far" by taking out the 20-inch and cruiser finals on successive days.
It was an unprecedented performance by a Kiwi BMX rider who had not been out of the top three ranked elite female riders since she entered the senior ranks in 2006.
Two years out, Walker is one of New Zealand's top hopes for a medal at the London Olympics.
She has always been somewhat of a rapid achiever. She started riding her bike in 1999, following in her brother Matt's tyremarks and won her first national title just two months later.
Walker's latest Bay crowning was an appropriate spike to a glittering night when all of the region's top sportsmen and sportswomen, teams, coaches and administrators of 2009 were celebrated.
The theme for the night was "Growing Champions, Taking on the World" and as the many award categories were worked through, that theme was reinforced.
It is incredible how many current Bay-based athletes continue to punch well above their weight on the world's sporting stages.
As a judge for some time, I find the level of achievement and the range of sports Bay in which people excel a constant eye-opener.
This year, the Bayleys open sportsman of the year went to world champion kayaker Michael Dawson while the Smiths Sports Shoes junior sportsman of the year went to world champion rugby player Luke Braid. The Tauranga Leisure junior sportswoman was Olympic kayaker Luuka Jones, who is among the world's best female paddlers.
The rise of the Bay of Plenty province to being the dominant region in New Zealand men's amateur golf during the past seven years with a fifth interprovincial title, earned them the Chiropractic and Sport Clinic team of the year gong.
Rotorua's John Lee picked up the BayTrust open coach of the year award with some of his riders earning stage wins in Europe and others becoming national champions. He follows in the footsteps of great Bay coaches like sevens guru Gordon Tietjens and netball's Noeline Taurua.
Rugby whistler Bryce Lawrence, who controlled a test between the Lions and South Africa this season, continued his top year by taking out the Lakes Tauranga official of the year award. Lawrence is at the top of his game as an IRB top seven referee.
The Delta Corporation club of the year went to the Bay Board Riders Club. Surfer Matt Hewitt won the junior sportsman title and rower Zoe Stevenson was named junior sportswoman of the year.
More from Rotorua & the Bay
- 3 minutes to read