MORE than 200 guests attended the 27th Annual Gippsland Sports Academy Awards Night recently.

Held at the Morwell Bowling Club Convention Centre, the event recognised and celebrated the graduation and achievements of athletes in nine sports over the preceding 12 months.

A total of 181 young Gippsland athletes were in attendance and received graduation certificates on the night from their respective program’s coaches.

This year, Gippstar was delighted to welcome Race Walker and Olympian, Rhydian Cowley as guest speaker. Cowley has strong family ties with Gippsland, and is on the way to Paris for the Olympics.

There were five major awards presented this year:


THE winner of the Phil Shelley Award was Dan Auteri of Traralgon.

Over the past few years, Dan has volunteered his time with the Gippsland Sports Academy Swim Program.

Congratulations: Dan Auteri, pictured with award namesake, Phil Shelley. Photograph supplied

Since the opening of Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre, Dan is the person who arranges the timing devices, touch pads and sound system. He was instrumental in securing the extended scoreboard through council for the recent Country Championships held in Traralgon.


THE recipient of the Rising Star Award was Lucas Furlan of Traralgon.

Lucas will be provided with funding through the Gippsland Sports Academy to assist in his future preparations for his sport of Clay Target Shooting.

Up and comer: Traralgon shooter Lucas Furlan, pictured with Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron was the recipient of the Rising Star Award. Photograph supplied

The 17-year-old was selected on the Shooting Australia ISSF Junior World Championship Team that competed in South Korea in July last year.

He recently competed in the New Zealand Junior ISSF Trap World Championship, making an open final.

Lucas is currently in the Shooting Australia Pathway squad. At an international level, Lucas has won a Gold medal in the teams event (Australian Under 21 team) at the World Championships for Universal Trap in Spain; and a Bronze medal in individual section (Under 21s) at the World Championships for Universal Trap in Spain. At a national level, Lucas is the Australian Junior Champion (Under 21s).

He attended the World Universal Trap Championships in Spain as part of the Australian Under 21 Team. The team was successful in defending their World Championship Title from last year, winning the Gold medal.


THE Tim Forsyth Award was won by Ash Nicholes of Traralgon.

Ash swims for Traralgon Swimming Club.

The 17-year-old is having an amazing swim season, with so many achievements that it is hard to highlight just a few.

Great work: Traralgon swimmer Ash Nicholes, pictured with GSA Chair, Sandra Timmer-Arends, won the Tim Forsyth Award. Photograph supplied

With five solid years of training and preparation, Ash has achieved some amazing personal best times, and trained with some of the best programs in the state.

His desire to compete and willingness to better himself is a true testament to his passion and competitive nature, that has seen Ash achieve his goals this season.

The outside world will only see the final results, but what they don’t see is the preparation and work that goes into a high achieving athlete.


THE David Drane Award was won by Zakari Shieffelbein of Bairnsdale.

Zak plays for Swan Reach Hockey Club.

The 15-year-old has a can-do attitude, is attentive, and gives 110 per cent every session.


THE Darrell White Award was awarded to Leila Roberts of Maffra, who plays for Swan Reach Hockey Club.

Man himself: Leila Roberts pictured with the award’s namesake, Darrell White. Photograph supplied

Leila’s achievements include making the Hockey Victoria Under 18s academy program at the age of 15 (state), and selection in the Gippsland Bulls U16 Girls representative team in 2023 (regional).