Academy awards for rising stars

FIVE athletes from the local region were among the prizewinners when the North Coast Academy of Sport held their annual awards dinner at Grafton.

Heading the list were lawn bowler Matthew Miles and rower Ashleigh Peppernell who were both named 'Most Outstanding' in their chosen discipline.

Miles is the fast-rising star of bowls and is already a New South Wales junior representative with a string of titles under his belt and was named Junior Sports Star at the 2007 Coffs Harbour City Council Australia Day awards.

Over 200 athletes, family members, coaches, managers, committee members and sponsors attended the Awards dinner with the major trophy presented to joint winners.

Alstonville triathlete Clayton Fettell, part of the Academy since 2001, tied with Maclean-based laser sailor Gabrielle King, a member of the Coffs Ex-Services Club sailing program since 2003.

Academy director Tony Clarke said the achievement of the prize-winners should be an inspiration to other junior athletes and coaches on the North Coast.

"It's nice to know years of after-school and weekend training, thousands of laps of swimming and thousands of kilometres of cycling and running have been the foundation of their structured development and recent success," he said.

"It's proof world-class performances can be achieved from training in regional areas.

"Their successes also justify the existence of the Academy which supported them throughout the many emerging years, prior to them becoming high achievers."

Around 300 athletes are identified by NCAS each year for sport enhancement programs in basketball, canoe sprint, cycling, hockey, lawn bowling, netball, rugby, sailing, softball, surf life saving, swimming, tennis and triathlon.

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