37th Sportsperson of the Year | Photos, video

Speedway racer Matthew Gilmore has become just the third person to win back-to-back Sportsperson of the Year (SOTY) titles in the awards 37-year history.

Gilmore joins Karen Lunn (80/81-81/82) and Janelle Lynch (97/98-98/99) as Cowra’s only athletes to secure the top prize in a row, having been recognised at the Cowra Services Club on Saturday night.

Gilmore’s major achievement during the 12 months to June was defending his title as world youth 250cc speedway champion at the FIM Speedway World Championships in Germany.

Matthew Gilmore with Vi and David Tidswell of the Cowra Health Club.

Matthew Gilmore with Vi and David Tidswell of the Cowra Health Club.

Unable to collect his prize last year because of commitments to racing in Europe, Gilmore was in attendance on Saturday night and was presented his prize by three time Olympic swimmer Lisa Curry.

Matt thanked the SOTY committee, Lisa Curry, Cowra Motorcycle Club for their help and support, Cowra Health Club, his family and sponsors and congratulated all the monthly award winners.

Curry’s hour long presentation was the highlight of the night and will go down as one of the most memorable in recent years, inspiring and motivating not only the monthly winners but the entire audience, drawing on experiences during her career and personal life.

She spoke about the time she trained on Christmas Day while knowing her opponents wouldn’t be, and her return to the Olympics at the age of 30 with two kids and after coming 63rd in the 50 metre freestyle in her comeback at nationals.

Curry told the audience “do what you have to do to get what you want” and “train like you’re number two”.

She congratulated each of the 2016-2017 SOTY monthly award recipients and took time to mingle afterwards, and attended the Cowra Health Club gym for a workout early on Sunday morning.

“These small country towns you have to stick together and help each other out. Interconnect with all the different sports,” Curry said during the closing minutes of her speech.

“And remember, when times get tough – suck it up, buttercup, no more excuses.”

Dual athlete Jade Te Weehi picked up this year’s Cowra Services Club sports scholarship to help her pursue both hockey and swimming.

Cowra Services Club sports scholarship winner Jade Te Weehi with special guest Lisa Curry.

Cowra Services Club sports scholarship winner Jade Te Weehi with special guest Lisa Curry.

Jade has recently been selected in a NSW Invitational hockey side to tour New Zealand, represented Western at the NSW Combined High Schools carnival, and was a part of the Barry Doyle Trophy SOTY Team of the Year –  4 x 50m freestyle girls relay team that won the gold medal at the NSW Combined High Schools carnival.

Swimming alongside Jade Browne and Lewis sisters Abbie and Georgia, the girls accepted their prize from Carole Doyle.

Doug Wright was recognised for his services to cricket being presented the the Bob Barr Memorial Award by Beth Bryant, and promising rugby league gun Leroy Murray was awarded a certificate for captaining the NSW under 13s side to national champions.

Nominations are now being taken for the 38th Sportsperson of the Year.