Yarham named top gun
CROSS country running star Glen Yarham topped off a year of incredible performances by winning the 2011 NuGrow Senior Sports Award at Friday night's Ipswich Sports Awards dinner.
It has been a breakout year for the 19-year-old, who finished a creditable 41st during March's World Junior Cross Country Championships in Spain.
Yarham followed his international success by finishing second in the Queensland open cross country titles in June before going one better by winning the Australian under-20 cross country title in August.
Despite his stellar year, the university student said he was surprised to secure the award.
"This sports star of the year award has probably just capped off the year really," he said.
"It was a bit of a surprise because last year's winner (Sunil Seth) is about to be selected in the Olympic badminton team.
"With athletes of his calibre in the field, I really didn't expect too much."
The Collingwood Park runner said after a year of highlights, one experience stood above the rest.
"Worlds was definitely the highlight of my year," he said
"Getting to travel with some of our top athletes, talk to them, have dinner with them.
"Having them know who I am and take an interest in how I'm going was great.
"The Australian title was also great, I really wanted to win that race."
Another first for Yarham was his victory in this year's Ipswich One Mile Gift.
It was the first time the 19-year-old had competed in a handicap race, but even starting as the race back-marker wasn't enough to stop him crossing the line first.
Ipswich swimming sensation Leah Neale added another gong to her expanding list of achievements when she was named junior sports star of the year.
In March, Neale broke Susie O'Neill's' 27-year-old 100m freestyle record while competing at the Catholic Girls Swimming Carnival.
At the Australian Age Championships, she won three medals and broke the Australian record for the 15-years 200m freestyle event.
The record earned Neale the title of the youngest person in Australia to go under two minutes for the 200m race.
The 16-year old said she was honoured to receive the award and was now setting herself for a heavy training period.
"School finishes next week and my training load will start to pick up then," she said.
"I have a couple of training camps for the rest of the year to help prepare me for Olympic Games selections in March."
Other award winners on the glittering night were The Redbank Plains Bears Rugby League Football Club, which received the Club-of-the-Year award.
Team-of-the-year was taken out by the all-conquering Ipswich Flyers.
The Flyers won the Schweppes Challenge Open Division One crown and the Ipswich representative carnival open division during their stellar season.
Ipswich netball stalwart Tricia McInally was named volunteer of the year for her 30-year commitment to the sport.
Senior Sports Star of Year: Glen Yarham
Junior Sport Star of Year: Leah Neale
Team of the Year: Ipswich Flyers netball
Club of the Year: Redbank Plains Bears Rugby League Club
Volunteer of Year: Tricia McInally (30 years service to Ipswich netball)