Sevens player Miller sportsperson of year

South Canterbury sportsperson of the year Jorja Miller on the field at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens....
South Canterbury sportsperson of the year Jorja Miller on the field at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Rugby Sevens player Jorja Miller has been named this year’s South Canterbury sportsperson of the year.

At the annual South Canterbury Sport and Recreation Awards held in Timaru on Friday night, Miller took out the title, heading off stiff competition from rugby players Siu Kakala and Vina Tuilau, shot putter Tom Walsh and tennis player James Watt.

Miller’s rugby journey from grassroots to the Black Ferns Sevens has been inspirational.

Her recent success in Hong Kong, securing a spot at the Paris Olympics, and signing a four-year contract with the Black Ferns highlights her exceptional performance on the global stage.

Her 2023 tournament performances have included both player of the final and player of the tournament awards.

Timaru Boys’ High School First XI hockey captain Ryan Caldwell received the outstanding youth in sport award, after having led the team in becoming national secondary schoolboys champions and winning the Rankin Cup.

The team itself won sports team of the year for the win, the first time that Timaru Boys’ High School had won the cup.

Wheelchair rugby player Ian Simpson took the title of para-athlete of the year, and decathlete Wayne Doyle was named masters athlete of the year.

Softball South Canterbury’s Keri Murphy won the volunteer of the year award, official of the year award went to Nyssa Willcocks, for her involvement in gymnastics, and coach of the year to speed skating’s Keaton Swindells.

The community sport and recreation impact award went to the Whitehorse Big Easy multisport event.

Outstanding lifetime achievement awards went to Betty McIver (gymnastics), Colin Cooper (indoor bowls), Ferg Hazlett (tennis), Ian Baird (athletics), Phillipa Bedford (basketball) and Wayne Williams (indoor bowls).

Rugby referee Colin Hawke was inducted as the seventh South Canterbury Sporting Legend, and the first official to receive the accolade. He refereed 175 first-class matches over a decorated 19-year career, including 24 tests and 16 Ranfurly Shield challenges, before hanging up the whistle in 2002.