Rural New Zealanders have always been competitive, and they've turned everyday farm jobs like shearing and fencing into highly competitive sports, as well as providing some of the country's top athletes in more traditional sports.
The Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards honour the best of our rural athletes, and now is the time for rural sports organisations to get their nominations in for the 2020 awards.
The awards honour both athletes and the volunteers and administrators who make their sports possible, from fields as varied as shearing, horse-riding, tree-climbing and fencing, and the Sir Brian Lochore Memorial Award for Outstanding Sportsperson from a Rural Background will honour an outstanding Kiwi athlete from any sports code who comes from a rural background.
This award, named for the late Sir Brian Lochore, celebrates the impact that being from a rural community benefited some of our greatest athletes as well as recognising the extra challenges, including lack of facilities, lack of coaching, and the immense distances travelled to train and compete.
It was introduced in 2019, and the first winner was Sarah Hirini, an outstanding women's rugby player, captain of the Black Ferns and past Golden Shears finalist.
The other 2019 award winners were young cowboy shooter Bradley McDowell, champion fencer Tony Bouskill, master woolhandler Pagan Karauria, tree climbing administrator and judge David James and veteran shearer Hugh McCarroll.
Convenor of judges and Olympic medallist rower Nathan Twaddle is excited about next year's awards.
"Every rural sport nomination we receive shows a clear passion for their sport and as our past winners have shown, they bring a level of dedication and skill that rivals that of any professional athlete. My fellow judges and I know we will have a challenge to determine a winner but we are looking forward to opportunity to continue to acknowledge the achievements of our rural sporting elite."
Norwood Chief Executive Tim Myers is again delighted that his company is supporting the Rural Sports Awards.
"We had a fantastic array of nominees and winners of the 2019 Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards. They are outstanding Kiwi shearers, tree climbers, fencers, riders, wood choppers and administrators, and I am sure 2020 will be no different. We are a rural company, our heart is in the country, and it is a privilege to be able to champion our rural athletes and sports codes."
Nominations are now open for:
The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year
The Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year
The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year
The Levno Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry.
The Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award
The Allflex Sir Brian Lochore Memorial Award for Outstanding Sportsperson from a Rural Background
Nominations for the 2020 awards close 4pm Friday 17 January 2020 and finalists will be announced in February 2020.
The Awards will be presented at a gala function on Friday 13 March 2020 prior to the New Zealand Rural Games celebration in Palmerston North.