The rower, the rider, the climber and the driver.

All four of them tested themselves on the world stage in 2017-18, all four of them experienced success, and all four of them are home grown products who will be celebrated tonight at the 2018 Ray White Whanganui Sports Awards.

Organised by Sport Whanganui in the Wanganui Function Centre, the dinner event will recognise some 88 individual, club and teams who have been nominated in the nine categories for their achievements from the start of October of last year through to the same date 12 months later.

The nominations the judging panel had to scrutinise for the 55th annual awards was notably larger than last year, which had around 60 in the main categories.


As well as the nominees, with some of the larger categories also recognising finalists, there will be awards for Services to Sport and Disabled Sportspersons.

The Whanganui Roll of Honour for long serving volunteers and the latest inductions to the Whanganui Sports Hall of Fame will also be announced.

But the big ticket category will be the International Senior Sportsperson of the Year, with the winner of this award more often than not also carrying off the Ray White Supreme Award for the evening, which is chosen from all the category winners.

Last year, both the International Sportsperson and the Supreme awards were shared between world championship-winning rowers Kerri Gowler and Chris Harris.

Gowler, who also won the 2014 Supreme award, is nominated again this year after she and women's pairs partner Grace Prendergast took silver at World Championships in Bulgaria, beaten by the very talented Canadians Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssess.

However, the silver was still the highlight of the New Zealand team's efforts at Plovdiv in September, winning only two other bronze medals and no gold as the rest of the world steps up with the Olympics looming.

Earl Bamber
Earl Bamber

Having been around the world and back again over that time is expat Whanganui driver Earl Bamber.

In October and November last year, Bamber and his Porsche LMP Team finished runnerup in both the last races of the FIA World Endurance Championship season to comfortably win the world title.


Bamber spent 2018 racing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the United States, getting his first win and three other Top 3 placings, while local fans finally got to watch him in prime time when he joined Red Bull Holden's Shane van Gisbergen as co-driver to enter the three Pirtek Enduro Cup races that are part of the Virgin Australian V8 Supercars Championship.

In May he was inducted to the MotorSport New Zealand Wall of Fame.

Sam Blenkinsop
Sam Blenkinsop

Whanganui's mountain bike racer Sam Blenkinsop celebrated one of his best seasons yet with a world title at the Canadian Open Downhill track at Crankworx Whistler in August.

Sharing the overall season podium with elite female winner Australian Tracey Hannah, Blenkinsop, as well as becoming the Crankworx Downhill Champion, also earned the title of King of Crankworx 2018.

Rachel Māia
Rachel Māia

The audience tonight will get to see a lot of paraclimber Rachel Māia.

As well as being the guest speaker and among the recipients of the Disabled Sports Recognition awards, Māia is nominated in the main international category for her fourth placing against the best paraclimbers in the world at the IFSC championships in Austria.

Māia was the first New Zealander to attend the championships, and qualified for the final of the Women's RP2 division, for paraclimbers with "limited range, power, stability" up to Level 2.

As well as the headliners, as usual the junior categories are stacked with talent, especially the International Junior field this year as Whanganui teenagers have been competing all over the world in a multitude of sports.

The judging committee consisted of Jared Smith, Grant McKinnon, Philippa Baker-Hogan, Ian Glenny and Ron Cheatley.

The nominees are
David Jones Motors Masters Award
Allan Caird (Mountain Biking), Allan Pond (Cricket), Andrew Spence (Cricket), Aramoho Whanganui Masters Rowing Squad, Barb Carson (Triathlon), Martin Pennefather (Cricket), Rodney Bannister (Squash).

Stihl Shop Wanganui Club of the Year
Kaierau Netball Club, Rangitikei Area Distance Riders, Rivercity Boxing Club, Whanganui Squash Club.

Mars Petcare Coach of the Year
Andrew Spence (Hockey), Carey Alabaster (Rugby), Charlotte Nixon (Basketball), Daisha Cromarty (Netball), Gareth Wright (Triathlon, Multisport), Gary MacKenzie (Football), Jason Caskey & Jason Hamlin (Rugby), Kerah McLean-Duffy (Dance, Hip Hop), Kerwyn Morgan (Netball, Basketball, Waka Ama), Mikayla Heka (Netball), Pauline Hiroti (Dance, Hip Hop), Saskia Knight (Football).

Treadwell Gordon Junior Team of the Year
2017 U15 Wanganui Hockey Representative Boys Team, Whanganui City College Aotea Empire (Dance Hip Hop), Wanganui Collegiate School Boys U18 Double Sculls, Wanganui Collegiate School Sprint Relay Squad, Wanganui Collegiate School Boys U16 Double Sculls, Wanganui Collegiate School Girls U18 Coxed Four, Wanganui Collegiate School Cross Country Team, Whanganui High School Boys 1st XI Hockey Team, Whanganui High School Junior A1 Netball Team, Whanganui High School U15 Boys Rugby Team.

Ali Arc Senior Team of the Year
2017 Steelform Wanganui Heartland Rugby Team, Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club Senior Quadruple Sculls, Hunterville Rugby Football Club, Kaiwhaiki Premier 1 Netball Team, Wanganui Athletic Women's Football Team, Wanganui Bowling Club Open Triples Team.

Stirling Sports National Junior Sportsperson of the Year
Amishel Kumar (Football), Claudia McLean (Figure Skating), Emma Fawthorpe (Figure Skating), Hunter Gibson (Triathlon), Jack Overweel (Cycling), Jamie-Lee Robertson (Rugby, Touch Rugby), Jesse Malcolm (Boxing), Jonathan Maples (Athletics), Jonte Wright (Rowing), Jordan Cohen (Hockey), Jorja Plane (Equestrian), Kaleb Ngatoa (Motorsport), Levi Carroll (Rowing), Nat Kirk (Athletics, Cross Country), Niamh Monk (Rowing), Paris Munro (Basketball, Athletics); Rangi Kui (Touch Rugby, Rugby, Basketball), Rebecca Baker (Hockey), Tui Wikohika (Snowboarding).

NZCT National Senior Sportsperson of the Year
Ben Smith (Cricket), Egelani Taito (Boxing), Glenn Haden (Cycling), Luke Watts (Rowing).

Velo Ronny's Bicycle Store International Junior Sportsperson of the Year
Amorangi Rayner (Weightlifting), Anastasia Seator-Braun (Alpine Ski Racing), Bradley McDowell (Cowboy Action Shooting); Emma Osborne (Athletics), Genna Maples (Athletics), Georgina Bryant (Triathlon), Jack Clifton (Sprint Kayak), Jamie Harris (Rowing), Jessica Watkin (Cricket), Jimi Blinkhorne (Roller Hockey), Keightley Watson (Judo), Kelly Houltham (Touch Rugby), Kyle Hoskin (Cycling), Liam Back (Cross Country), Liam Lace (Sprint Kayak), Lucas Thompson (Sprint Kayak), Nathan Luff (Rowing), Rebecca Baker (Cross Country), Rebecca Benge (Equestrian), Renee Teers (Speed Skating), Sophie Brooke (Sprint Kayak), Tayla Brunger (Athletics), Tyrone Houltham (Touch Rugby), Zach Bellamy (Cross Country).

Mitre 10 Mega International Senior Sportsperson of the Year
Earl Bamber (Motorsport), Kerri Gowler (Rowing), Rachel Māia (Rock Climbing, Paraclimbing), Sam Blenkinsop (Downhill Mountain Biking).

Recognition Awards
NZME Services to Sport Recognition
Amanda Cornforth (Special Olympics); Andrew Murray (Football); Charlie Brown (Football, Futsal); Eddie Tofa (Boxing); Ethan Gillespie (Hockey); Jason King (Football); Lance Brown (Softball); Linda Cornforth (Special Olympics).

Rivercity Gas Disabled Sportsperson Recognition
Erin Gale (Equestrian); Judith Bradley (Indoor Bowls, Bocce); Rachel Māia (Rock Climbing, Paraclimbing); Renee Onishenko (Equestrian).