Top Award goes to Paul Drinkhall, who beat 400 contenders to win the title OCS Young Sports Person 2006
At a prestigious awards ceremony held today, 23 November, in the OCS stand at the Brit Oval London, 16-year-old Paul Drinkhall from Loftus, Cleveland, beat off competition from almost 400 contenders to be crowned the national OCS Young Sports Person 2006. He received his award, along with sponsorship worth £12,500 from Rory Underwood.
Paul’s table tennis achievements include establishing himself as the number one in the Under 18’s and more recently as the number one in the Seniors’, being the youngest person to do so in over 20 years. He won his first Boys’ Singles title on the ITTF World Junior Circuit at the Funchal Junior Open and in September at the Panasonic China Open Men’s Singles opening round he only narrowly missed victory over the reigning Olympic Champion.
Hosted by top television presenter Clare Balding, the awards ceremony was supported by many of the top names in British sport including Alec Stewart, David Moorcroft, Michaela Breeze, Christian Malcolm and Iwan Thomas. Also attending the event were the nine other regional/category winners who each won sponsorship worth £2,500 and a ‘young star’ who took away £500.
Paul said: “I am delighted to have won this sponsorship and would like to thank OCS for their support which will be enormously helpful in working towards my goal of a medal in 2012.”
Commenting on the awards, OCS chief executive, Chris Cracknell said, “The awards are the culmination of many months of assessment and interviews involving hundreds of young people, each of whom deserves help and support as they set out in their sporting careers. I would like to congratulate all the finalists for their achievements over the past year.
“Supporting youngsters at an age when funding isn’t readily available can really make a difference, enabling them to continue to develop within their sport and realise their full potential. We believe passionately in the importance of nurturing young sporting talent, especially as we look forward to the 2012 Olympics.”
The OCS Young Sports Person Awards have been supporting young sports stars of the future for nine years and among the talented youngsters identified who subsequently joined the ranks of Britain’s sporting greats are squash player James Wilstropp, swimmer Rebecca Cooke and gymnast Beth Tweddle. Last year’s overall National Winner Nathan Stephens has already been singled out as a likely medal winner at the 2012 Paralympics.
This year the finalists were:
• Jean-Rene (JR) Badrick, 17, London - London Region OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Judo
• Victoria Bell, 16, Carlisle – North West OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Squash
• Tannika Burgess, 12, West Bromwich – OCS Young Sports Person 2006 Young Star - Athletics
• Paul Drinkhall, 16, Loftus – North East OCS Young Sports Person 2006 – Table Tennis
• Kate Grey, 17, Bristol – Disabled OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Swimming
• Joanne Harten, 17, Harlow – South East OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Netball
• Gemma Howell, 16, Telford – Midlands OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Judo
• Helen Jewell, 17, Ivybridge – South West OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Weightlifting
• Colette McSorley, 17, Benburb, Co.Armagh – Northern Ireland OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Camogie
• Robert Parry, 14, Conwy – Welsh OCS Young Sports Person 2006 – Swimming
• Caitlin Steel, 16, Glasgow – Scottish OCS Young Sports Person 2006 - Tennis