University of Queensland students Dane Bird-Smith and Gabrielle Simpson have been named Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the UQ Sport 2016 Club and Sports Awards.
The awards recognise excellence in sport and contribution to university life.
Olympian Dane Bird-Smith (athletics – race walking) claimed the title ahead of two-time Paralympic gold medallist Brenden Hall (swimming).
The 23-year-old, who will compete at his first Olympics Games in Rio, won gold medals at the 2015 World University Games (20km walk) and the Australian Athletics Championships (10km walk).
The accolade coincides with Bird-Smith winning the 2015 Australian University Sport Male Athlete of the Year Award.
Sportswoman of the Year – Australian Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds player Gabrielle Simpson (netball) – became Australia’s 164th Test player when she debuted against New Zealand in last year’s Constellation Cup.
She received the Sportswoman of the Year award ahead of Rio-hopeful and rhythmic gymnast Danielle Prince.
“Thank you to UQ Sport for this award. It’s been a huge year for netball in Queensland and Australia, so it’s really humbling to be recognised for the small role I was able to play,” Simpson said.
“This year we won the ANZ Championship with the Firebirds and I got to pull on the green and gold dress for the first time. It’s a year that I’ll never forget.”
The UQ Hockey Club won the prestigious $5000 Hulbert Bursary – awarded for outstanding achievement, innovation and best practice in club management.
UQ Hockey Club president Richard James said the award was a major highlight for the century-old club.
“Being named as the winner of the Hulbert Bursary is a tremendous honour and is received on behalf of the many volunteers that have made our club special over many years,” Mr James said.
“In recent times, we have become a truly inclusive club of women and men, girls and boys, being made up of past and current students, as well prospective students.
“With this support shown to us by UQ and UQ Sport we can plan for higher participation, and ensure our financial stability.”
The UQ Rugby Union Club was awarded the President’s Cup for exceptional competition performance, while the UQ Boat Club received three awards – including Coach and Administrator of the Year awards.
UQ Sport chief executive Bryan Pryde said the winners and nominees had made valuable contributions to sport at UQ.
“Across our 38 affiliated clubs, we received more than 75 nominations, which is the highest number of nominees we have seen in a number of years,” Mr Pryde said.
Held at the Regatta Hotel’s Boatshed Restaurant, the event was hosted by Channel 7’s Pat Welsh, and attended by five-time Olympian and beach volleyball gold medallist Natalie Cook, who served as guest speaker.
UQ Sport club and sports awards winners
Sportsman of the Year: Winner – Dane Bird-Smith (athletics); runner-up – Brenden Hall (swimming).
Sportswoman of the Year: Winner – Gabrielle Simpson (netball); runner-up – Danielle Prince (gymnastics)
Hulbert Bursary Award: Winner – UQ Hockey Club; runner-up – UQ Boat Club
President’s Cup: Winner – UQ Rugby Union Club; runner-up – UQ Hockey Club
Coach of the Year: Winner – Zoltan Shepherd (UQ Boat Club); runner-up – Elton Barrange (UQ Rugby Union Club)
Club All-Rounder of the Year: Winner – Kieran Powyer (UQ Hockey Club); runner-up – Alana Hewish (UQ Boat Club)
Club Administrator of the Year: Winner – Margaret Bridgeford (UQ Boat Club); runner-up – Richard James (UQ Rugby Club)
Club Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Benjamin Lewis (UQ Tennis Club); runner-up – Alice Lane (UQ Hockey Club)
Club Service Award recipients: Bill Hind (UQ Boat Club); Daniel Hodge (UQ Rugby Union Club), Hank Szeto (UQ Tennis Club), Kenneth Wong (UQ Table Tennis Club), Martin Wynne (UQ Canoe Club), Steve How Lum (UQ Powerlifting Club)