Blake Blackburn stepped out of the considerable shadow of Cessnock and Australian pistol shooting teammate Daniel Repacholi at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in doing so has claimed the 2016 Cessnock Sportsperson of the Year Award.
The awards were presented at Cessnock Leagues Club on Friday night.
Choosing a winner between two Olympians literally came down to a shoot out and Blackburn had the winning score – finishing eight places ahead of the three-time sportsperson of the year winner Repacholi in the men’s 10m air pistol in Rio.
It was Blackburn’s first Olympics and he overcame a nervous start to finish in the top 40.
He is now aiming to step up to Repacholi’s lofty heights of achievement by medalling at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018. Repacholi won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Blackburn was in Canada and unable to attend the awards night, but sent the video below.
Cessnock Goannas junior Brodie Jones and Kurri Kurri shot putter Aiden Harvey both reached the tops of their sports in 2016 and couldn’t be separated by the judges for the Cessnock City Junior Sportsperson of the Year Award.
Harvey put the athletics world on notice by claiming the Australian under-18 shot put title in March and went on to break the NSW Combined High Schools under-17s shot put record by more than a metre in September.
Jones continued to excel in rugby league earning a coveted Australian Schoolboys jersey in July. A member of the Newcastle Knights juniors, Jones played for the NSW Blues under-18s side that defeated Queensland in a curtain-raiser to Origin II.
Athletes with a disability
Cessnock’s Mary Marks just loves competing in her chosen sport of tenpin bowling and when you are as good as Marks that means winning titles. She won gold and silver at National Disabilities Tenpin Bowling Championships in June.
Weston’s Tyson O’Neil in many ways epitomises the best in sport. At just 13 he was a member of the NSW junior goalball team (a sport for vision-impaired athletes), winning a silver medal at the national championships. He also set a record in the T13 under-15 boys’ 100-metre race at the NSW Combined High Schools athletics championships.
Teams of the year
Achievements across a calendar year finally swayed the judges in choosing the Kurri Kurri Cannons winning performance in the prestigious Big Bowls Challenge ahead of the Cessnock District Cricket Association representative team. The Cessnock cricketers laid the platform in 2016 for their best results ever, but the crowning moments came in 2017.
The junior team categories again produced some fantastic nominees but the Cessnock PCYC trampolining squad’s effort of bringing home six gold medals from the Australian Gymnastics Championships couldn’t be topped in 2016.
Administrator/official of the year
Dzmitry Shostau, the Cessnock PCYC trampolining coach earned his award for the countless hours he spent in preparing his squad for their outstanding success at state and national level in 2016, which included six gold medals at the Australian Gymnastics Championships in June.
Senior Achievement Award
The judges presented a special award to Mark Hale, who took out the Branxton Golf Club A-grade club championship for the 18th time in October.
Want to know more? See the full list of finalists here.