DAN BIGGAR AND WALES FOOTBALL SHINE AT THE WALES SPORT AWARDS

Wales rugby and Ospreys star Dan Biggar was named the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year for 2015 at the Wales Sport Awards this evening. Biggar, who had a stand-out Rugby World Cup and Six Nations season for Wales and another impressive season for the Ospreys was presented with the award by Nigel Owens at the Wales Sport Awards ceremony in Cardiff this evening (Monday, December 7).

And after a record-breaking year for Welsh football, the Wales Senior Mens Football Team took the Team of the Year accolade after qualifying for the finals of the UEFA European Championships in France next summer, and national coach Chris Coleman won the Coach of the Year Award.

In the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award Dan Biggar beat off the challenge of runner-up Geraint Thomas and third-placed Lee Selby.

Sport Wales and BBC Wales joined forces again to hold the country’s biggest annual sporting celebration at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff.

Other outstanding achievements in Welsh sport were honoured at the event:

The winners were:

  • Team of the Year – Wales Senior Men’s Football Team
  • Lifetime Achievement (Elite) Award – Sir Gareth Edwards (Rugby Union)
  • Lifetime Achievement (Community) Award – Dorothy Neyland (Gymnastics, Swansea)
  • Volunteer of the Year – Wendy Pressdee (Netball, Swansea)
  • Young Volunteer of the Year – Elan Mon Gilford (Multi-Sport, Anglesey)
  • Young Coach of the Year – Lowri Haf Barker (Netball, Flintshire)
  • Carwyn James Junior Sportsman of the Year – Matt Story (Tennis, Cardiff)
  • Carwyn James Junior Sportswoman of the Year – Hannah Brier (Athletics, Swansea)
  • Coach to Disabled People – John Wilson (Visually Impaired Bowls, Swansea)
  • Unsung Hero – Jane Roberts and Nerys Ellis (Llanrwst Swimming Club, Conwy)
  • Community Coach of the Year – Angeline Tshiyane (Multi-Sport, Newport)

Referee Nigel Owens achievements were also marked with a special recognition celebrating his appointment to referee the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final.

Rugby Union legend Sir Gareth Edwards was given the Lifetime Achievement (Elite) award. Arguably the greatest ever rugby union player he was capped 53 times for Wales and won 10 British Lions caps.

The Lifetime Achievement (Community) honour was given to Swansea gymnastics stalwart Dorothy Neyland. She started a small gymnastics group in 1972 so her children could take part, and now, 40 years later, it is a thriving club where hundreds of youngsters train every week.

Netball administrator Wendy Pressdee picked up the Volunteer of the Year for work that includes giving over 30 hours a week to run leagues in Swansea, while the Young Volunteer of the Year went to Anglesey’s Elan Mon Gilford.

Mold Netball Club coach Lowri Haf Barker took the Young Coach of the Year prize after taking on the coaching role aged just 16 after her club coach was diagnosed with cancer.

The Carwyn James Sportsman of the Year prize was given to up-and-coming tennis player Matt Story from Cardiff while sprinter Hannah Brier from Swansea won the Carwyn James Sportswoman of the Year.

John Wilson, who has set up new clubs to cater for visually impaired bowlers, earned the crown of Coach to Disabled People.

Farmers Jane Roberts and Nerys Ellis of Llanrwst Swimming Club in Conwy have been volunteer coaching at the club for over 30 years, an achievement that earned them the BBC Wales Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award. They will now go on to represent Wales in the UK final, which will be announced during BBC Sports Personality of the Year on BBC One Wales on Sunday, December 20.

To complete the list of winners, Angeline Tshiyane, driving sport amongst Newport’s BAME communities, won the Community Coach of the Year.

Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister said:

It’s been another year of high profile success for Welsh sport and the Wales Sport Awards has once again captured the inspiration and everyday sacrifices that makes sport in Wales so compelling.

At an elite and grassroots level sport is a shining light for Wales with our sport stars putting us on the world map and increases in participation in our communities that are the highest in a generation.

The achievements of sport in Wales are something that our nation holds with great pride. We must harness this feel-good factor so that generations of people in Wales are able to enjoy the same success in the future.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales said:

“2015 has been another outstanding year in Welsh sport, and it’s a real thrill to showcase the enormous talent and quality across Welsh sport. These are extraordinary human stories, not just among our world class sportsmen and women but also across the network of inspirational people who make sport happen from administrators and officials to coaches and volunteers. This is a night to say thank you and to celebrate them all.”

The ceremony will be replayed in full on the BBC Red Button at 4.30pm and 11.20pm on Tuesday, December 8. BBC iPlayer viewing will be available for 30 days.

For more information visit: www.walessportawards.org.uk

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SWANSEA GYMNASTICS STALWART DOROTHY NEYLAND PICKS UP COMMUNITY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT ACCOLADE

DOTAfter more than 40 years of providing gymnastics opportunities for young people in Swansea, Dorothy Neyland MBE has been honoured with a commmuity lifetime achievement award at the Wales Sport Awards this evening (Monday, December 7).

Having seen Olga Korbut’s Olympic triumphs in 1972, Dorothy’s children wanted to take up gymnastics, so she started a small after school group called Gowerton Gymnastics Club all the time juggling this with looking after her six children and the running of a playgroup from her home.

Little did she know back then that her services to gymnastics and the community of Swansea would be so great that she would be awarded an MBE and a diploma from the International Olympic Committee.

The club, now called West Street Gymnastics – is still flourishing and due to celebrate its 40th anniversary in January. It soon outgrew Gowerton School in the mid-1980s and set up shop in a former bus garage. It boasts a large catchment area and its members compete at international level.

“I haven’t got a gymnastics background,” explains Dorothy, who lives in Gowerton. “But I’ve always been a sports fanatic. I was never interested in coaching or judging but I have always loved the administration and the running of a club. I do a bit of scoring too, mind you, it used to be different then. It was always with pen and paper and now it’s all on computers.”

At 81 years of age, Dorothy’s commitment to the club remains as unwavering as ever as she devotes 10 to 12 hours a week to the organisation of classes and competitions. She is also Secretary of the West area and organises national and regional competitions. She has only very recently stepped down as Membership Director of Welsh Gymnastics.

“I’m retired but volunteering really keeps me going. It keeps my mind active. I love the camaraderie and I’ve even been to America with the West Wales Academy. I love everything about it. If gymnastics disappeared from my life, it would leave such a massive hole.”

“It’s so rewarding to see the children rushing in and enjoying the sport. They won’t all become a high level gymnast, and we’ve had quite a few, but what matters is that they come in happy and they go home happy.”

Dorothy’s countless hours of volunteering, commitment and passion has provided thousands of children across Wales with the opportunity to participate in gymnastics.

She credits the support of her wonderful husband, Terry who passed away seven years ago:

“He let me do what I wanted. Plus I can’t stand housework! That’s got a lot to do with it! I decided very quickly that if I could get someone in to clean, I could run the playgroup and the gymnastics club so I was happy!”