Athletes honoured

OUTSTANDING sportspeople from the region were recognised for their prolific past 12 months last Friday, as 46 young athletes received graduation certificates from the Gippsland Sports Academy at Morwell Bowls Club.

Among the major award winners was renowned Traralgon Tennis Association coach Graham Charlton, who received the Phil Shelley award for sport development within the Gippsland Sports Academy.

The David Drane Award for encouragement was won by Connor O’Neill, a rising swim star who won gold at the Victorian Long Course titles in the 200 metre backstroke, then repeated the feat at the country championships in the open division four weeks later.

There was more joy for swimmers as Traralgon Swim Club pair Emily Beecroft and Mikaela Cornelissen shared the Tim Forsyth Award for Sporting Excellence.

Multi-class wimmer Emily has her sights set on national Paralympic team selection, and is part of the 2016 Rio Development and 2020 Tokyo Development squads.

She is ranked in the top five in the world in the 50m butterfly, 50m and 100m freestyle and top 15 in her other events.

Mikaela broke 52 country and Gippsland records in another stellar season in the pool.

She is now the fastest girl in history from Gippsland over the 50m and 100m butterfly, backstroke and freestyle events.

The audience was also treated to an inspirational presentation by Leongatha football coach Beau Vernon.