GYMNAST Sam Dronsfield has won the fourth Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award.
The 15-year-old tumbler, who won three national medals in 2010, including his first national gold medal, topped a massive public vote to lift the prize.
In what was a closely-fought battle, he edged past runners Laura Weightman and Jim Manford, footballers Lucy Bronze and Lucy Staniforth, angler Lucy Bowden, equestrian ace Gemma Gibson, golfer Jake Storey, surf kayak champion Tamsin Green and Alnwick Cricket Club stalwart Bobby Dodds to win the coveted Gazette gong.
He follows in the footsteps of previous Sports Personality of the Year award winners Keith MacDonald, Michael Henderson and Laura Weightman.
A proud Sam beamed: “It is the best you can win. Thank you to everyone who voted for me.”
Gazette glory was testament to Sam’s stunning 2010.
The Glanton lad grabbed a hat-trick of national medals, first grabbing silver at the British NDP Championships before scooping bronze for his overall performance in the British Tournament, where he also won gold in the individual tumble – an achievement he described as the highlight of 2010.
On top of this, the youngster achieved a regional gold medal and two silver medals.
Sam, who told the Gazette that he has always had a lot of support from family and friends, is dedicated to his sport and is targeting more national medals in 2011.
He trains intensively at his club which is based in Ushaw Moor, Durham, at least three times a week and his journey involves taking a bus from Alnwick to Alnmouth, the train from Alnmouth to Durham and a bus from Durham to Ushaw Moor – which takes him three hours, including an hour’s wait at the railway station.
In a year of success, Sam was also the proud winner of the Sporting Achievement award at the 2010 Pride of Northumberland ceremony, organised by North East Press.
Sam was presented with the Gazette prize at the prestigious Alnwick and District Sports Council annual awards night on Saturday at Alnwick Playhouse, where he was also named joint winner of the Junior Achievement award.
Retired Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning gymnast and former Olympian Craig Heap was the event’s guest of honour and compere, and he was delighted that a fellow gymnast took the Gazette prize.
“I am so chuffed for him and gymnastics,” he said.
The Sports Awards honours and recognises sporting stars and stalwarts from Alnwick and district.
Craig was amazed at the array of talent and the amount of dedicated people that the area has to offer.
He added: “It is nice to see these people being rewarded, from the young stars to the senior winners, as well as the volunteers, because sport wouldn’t take place without volunteers.”