Organisers of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards have announced Olympic rowing gold medallist Mahé Drysdale as guest speaker for the inaugural event that takes place at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on Friday 10th March 2017.
Launched to celebrate sporting excellence among New Zealand’s largely unsung rural athletes, the awards are presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust.
Tickets are now on sale for the awards dinner that takes place the night before the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing.
Fourtime Olympian and multiple world champion Mahé Drysdale is one of New Zealand’s most successful sportsman. He won gold in the single sculls at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, was the 2006 Supreme Halberg Award Winner and inducted as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009.
He said he was honoured to be guest speaker at the first ever New Zealand Rural Sports Awards.
“Being a member of the rural community myself, it is a great honour for me to attend the awards evening and celebrate with those that achieved so much over the past year. An active rural sporting community is so important to New Zealand and I am really looking forward to being involved,” he said.
Rural sports associations and other invited organisations have until 31 January to nominate individuals for four separate award categories: New Zealand Rural Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year and an award recognising Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry.
Nominees will be shortlisted by a judging panel chaired by former All Black captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore that also includes President of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic equestrian medallist Judy ‘Tinks’ Pottinger, MP for Taranaki King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander plus three respected agricultural journalists, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, Tony Leggett and Jamie Mackay who will also MC the event.