Duncan awarded top prize for second year running

Courtney Duncan. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Courtney Duncan. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Motocross rider Courtney Duncan has won the supreme award at the Otago Sports awards, taking the big prize for the second year in a row.

Duncan (25) was awarded senior sportswoman of the year and then won the supreme award at a ceremony at the Edgar Centre last night.

She was awarded it last year for winning the world’s women’s motocross championships in 2019. She backed that up by winning the 2020 world championship.

In what was a stop-start championship, the Palmerston rider was clutch when it mattered, winning the title on a wins countback in the final round in October.

Duncan is set to go for a hat trick of titles this year, with the first race of the five meeting championship set to be raced in the Czech Republic at the end of July.

She has kept busy over the summer back home in New Zealand, racing in a couple of events and keeping injury free.

It was a popular win for one of the region’s hardest working athletes.

Duncan also had a hand in the awarding of the sportsman of the year category. It was won by Highlanders and All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.

Smith is into his 11th season with the Highlanders and is about to bring up 100 test caps for the All Blacks, but had never been nominated for an Otago award. He has always had links to his home province, Manawatu, and had not ben regarded as eligible for the Otago awards.

But Duncan got in touch with award organisers and questioned how Smith could not be considered as he had done much for the Otago province and lived in Dunedin.

After some debate by the judges, it was decided the halfback should be a candidate for an award. And he duly won the senior sportsman award.

Smith (32) was playing for the Highlanders last night in Perth.

The success of the Otago Nuggets in winning the NBL showdown last year was recognised in three categories.

Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere was awarded coach of the year, while the side won the team of the year award.

Angela Ruske, who had been one of the main drivers in getting the Nuggets back up and running after dropping out of the league in 2014, was named official of the year.

Snowboarder Nico Porteous (19) was awarded the junior sportsman of the year after an impressive season in the northern hemisphere.

The Wanaka athlete became the first New Zealander to win a FreeSki title at the snowboard championships with victory in the men’s Freeski Halfpipe title. He also won gold at the X games.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (20), also from Wanaka, won the junior sportswoman award. She won the gold medal at the slopestyle at the snowboard world championships and also claimed the silver medal in the slopestyle event, and the bronze in the big air, at the Winter X Games in Aspen.

The services to sport award was given to Geoff Simons, who has worked tirelessly for many organisations, including the Masters Games. He is also a historian of rugby and other sports.

He has supported many different sports, compiled draws for secondary school rugby and other sports and helped manage teams.

The innovation in sport award was given to Bridget Meyer. She developed a website which offered advice on what tracks were accessible to those with disability or mobility issues.

The awards were judged by athletics coach Megan Gibbons, former Black Cap Craig Cumming, athletics coach Raylene Bates, Sport Otago chief executive John Brimble and Otago Daily Times sports editor Steve Hepburn.

The awards cover from April 1, 2020 to March 31 this year.

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