The Disability Sport Wales virtual awards celebrated the outstanding inspirational achievements of athletes, organisations, coaches and volunteers – made all the more remarkable in a year where Covid-19 restrictions has disproportionately affected the lives of all of us.
The awards ceremony was held online and aired on the Disability Sport Wales’ Facebook and YouTube channels on Friday (9 April) evening – meaning that it was viewed around the world and made available to an unlimited number of people. Presented by Sam Lloyd and Paralympian Aled Davies, it was broadcast in both English and Welsh, with subtitles and BSL.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions temporarily closing clubs and postponing tournaments, Disability Sport Wales has remained very much open for business – empowering technology and taking social interaction, training sessions and the fun of playing sport online, with coaches and volunteers continuing to share their passion and experience to a willing and enthusiastic audience.
The result has seen many remarkable sporting achievements made, as the physical activity, including sport, continues to inspire, influence and include, even during a global pandemic.
Fiona Reid, CEO Disability Sport Wales, said: “It’s been a tough year but I am so excited to still be able to celebrate all the amazing achievements within disability and inclusive sport in Wales at our awards.
“Congratulations to all our winners and to everyone who was shortlisted. It was a memorable evening full of inspiring stories and despite the challenges over the last twelve months we should be exceptionally proud as a nation.”
Here are the award winners, recognised by Disability Sport Wales for their outstanding contribution to sport – both at home and on the International stage:
Insport Organisation of the Year
Winner: Welsh Rugby Union.
Greg Woods (WRU Enterprise Manager): “Wow, thank you, it’s such an honour to win Organisation of the Year. It’s such an honour for us, especially with all the other organisations and governing bodies out there in Wales that are doing some great work in community sport, to make sure people of all abilities can play sport. For us in rugby we can’t do it alone, and I’d like to thank all our partners and organisation and all our community clubs and volunteers that give up hours and hours to make sure that people can play our great sport. Thank you again, we are really humbled.”
Emerging Athlete of the Year
Winner: Deryn Allen-Dyer (Judo).
Deryn Allen-Dyer: “It’s an honour and a privilege to receive this award, and hopefully I can inspire other people to get into sport. I’d like to thank my school for letting me have so much time off to go to competitions and training and I’d also like to thank my mum and my father for taking me into the sport at such a young age and introducing me to this amazing family.”
Inspiring My Journey
Winner: Will Bishop (Wheelchair basketball/Athlete)
Will Bishop: “Thank you very much to everyone who has helped me along my sporting path. And hopefully we can make it all the way to the Paralympic Games. Thank you!”
Athlete of the Year
Winner: Ben Pritchard (GB Para-Rower).
Ben Pritchard: “It’s just a huge honour to win this award and I’d like to say a massive thank you firstly the people who nominated me, and the panel who shortlisted it and to those who have helped me get to where I am – the City of Swansea Rowing Club, Welsh Rowing, Disability Sport Wales and British Rowing. It’s huge, and I just want to say a massive thank you. This is the first win for this year, and hopefully I can go on from here and win the Europeans and go on to the Paralympics in Tokyo and win there too.”
Jim Munkley Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: John Harris.
Five-time Paralympic athlete and Paralympic gold medal winner.
John has worked tireless all his life to inspire others, and his many astonishing pioneering fundraising achievements include hand-biking around Wales in 1997 to raise money to build Wales’ first sports centre designed exclusively for disabled users – and then he cycled around Wales again to raise money to keep it open.
John Harris: “Wow, I don’t get lost for words very often! This Lifetime Achievement Award this isn’t just for me, it’s for all those people that gave me the life that I’ve had and I think that I’m a really fortunate person for the people I have met. This is the icing on the cake and that is come from my peers is pretty special.
“Once I started training, I knew that sport was going to be my future. And when I look at the gold medal I won at the Olympics in 1984 I know that I was the best in the world. I wasn’t the best in Pontypool, Torfaen, Wales, Great Britain – Johnny Harris was the best in the world! That will do me.”