Sports awards: Last-minute calls could give Jersey CI breakthrough

THE Island's sporting public have until 11 o'clock this evening to help provide Jersey with their first winner of the Cable and Wireless Channel Islands Sports Personality of the Year award.

THE Island's sporting public have until 11 o'clock this evening to help provide Jersey with their first winner of the Cable and Wireless Channel Islands Sports Personality of the Year award.

That's when the votelines over the islands close and the fifth winner is announced at the gala dinner at the Hotel de France.

Jersey have two extremely strong contenders in hockey international Beckie Herbert and trans-Atlantic winning sailor Phil Sharp - and either would be worthy winners.

But that will, undoubtedly, need voting patterns over the past five years to change, as the Guernsey public always tend to back their Baliwick nominations in a big way.

And this year they have three to vote for, including Alderney runner Nikki Neal, who is likely to feature prominently after her exploits in the London Marathon when she broke the CI ladies' record.

The other two are previous winner Dale Garland, a Commonwealth Games decathlete, and Samantha Herridge, a triathlete who also competed in Melbourne last March.

As of this morning voting is understood to be extremely close, so a late flurry of calls could easily tip the balance.

Sharp's achievement in winning the Route du Rhum solo yacht race, in the largest category, has gained him national recognition and should pave the way for further prestigious yachting challenges.

Herbert's progress on the hockey field was also outstanding; Commonwealth Games bronze and World Cup qualification and tournament play with England, European Cup Winners bronze and national title with club Leicester Fyffes - all leading to her first Great Britain cap in South Africa, although that did occur this month and not in the year in question.

Jersey will also feature prominently in the other sections with their case in the NatWest Rising Star being particularly strong - anyone of throws athlete Jamie Stevenson, England U17 netballer Serena Guthrie, national badminton doubles star Mariana Agathangelou or GB archery starlet Lucy O'Sullivan would be a worthy recipient of the £1,000 prize.

The strength of nominations for this category, particularly from Jersey, underlines just how well individuals are progressing in the islands.

Guernsey have two, extremely young, nominations in cricketer Tim Ravenscroft (14) and U14 national tennis champion Heather Watson.

Coach of the Year nominations feature John Grady (special gymnastics), Chris Minty (CI cricket) and Jayson Lee (ladies football) from Jersey as well as Guernsey Barracuda Swimming Club's Alison Frankland.

Team of the Year has regular nominees CI Athletics Club (British Jubilee Plate winners) and Jersey Rugby Club (highest position ever by a CI club in a UK league), joined this time by the CI Rifle team (European long range champions) and Jersey bowlers Gaynor Thomas and Suzie Dingle (British outdoor pairs champions and just pipped for a Commonwealth Games bronze).

As usual a special award for a sporting hero will also be presented at this evening's awards, televised by CTV, which features British athletics star and BBC sporting commentator Steve Cram as the guest speaker.

The past winners of the main award, all from Guernsey, have been Dale Garland (athletics), Ann Bowditch (cycling) and Andy Priaulx (motor sport, twice).