Jo and Chris scoop top sports awards

OLYMPIC hockey player Jo Ellis was named Sports Personality of the Year at the first ever Team Ipswich Sports Awards last night.

Stuart Watson

OLYMPIC hockey player Jo Ellis was named Sports Personality of the Year at the first ever Team Ipswich Sports Awards last night.

The Ipswich Hockey Club player - who helped Great Britain to sixth place in the women's hockey table in Beijing - received the award in front of a large crowd at the John Grose showroom on Ransomes Europark.

Meanwhile, the Evening Star sponsored Young Sports Personality of the Year Award went to 18-year-old swimmer Chris Walker-Hebborn.

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The Team Ipswich Swimming Club backstroke specialist is currently based in Australia as part of the British Offshore Swimming Programme and has ambitions to compete at the London 2012 Olympics.

The highlight of the teenager's year came in August when he claimed four gold medals at the European Junior Championships in Serbia's Belgrade.

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It proved a highly successful night for Team Ipswich Swimming Club who were runners-up in three other categories.

In addition to Walker-Hebborn's success, the Crown Pools-based outfit were second in Club of the Year for the sheer depth of their programme. Not only does the club continue to excel at an elite level, but the past year has also seen the club expand its coaching for learner, recreational and disabled swimmers, as well as water polo.

Team Ipswich Swimming Club's head coach Dave Champion, who has also been coaching Great Britain's junior teams this year, was runner-up in Coach of the Year, while the club's Speedo League team were rewarded for their highest ever national finish of third with a runners-up spot.

The ever-expanding Ipswich Basketball Club were big winners on the night. Not only were they named Club of the Year, but hard-working women's and junior basketball coach Kathryn James, who is also Suffolk Sport's Basketball Development Officer, pipped Champion to the Coach of the Year trophy.

Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club won two awards and were runners-up in two others.

Young gymnast Lilly Black, 14, won the Triumph Over Adversity Award after her gutsy return to the Junior British Championships just two years after breaking her back in a freak fall.

Her club-mate George Chanarin, also 14, was named runner-up after his brave win at the National Development Plan Finals in April just two weeks after his father had died of cancer.

The club's inexperienced and young junior girls' team were also named Junior Team of the Year following their two victories at the Alpha Factor Invitational National Club Championships and Bill Slater National Club Team Championships.

Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club were the other big winners of the evening. Club founder Claire O'Brien-Ellington, who herself is wheelchair bound, won the Contribution to Disability Sport Award, while her husband Simon was runner-up in the Unsung Hero category. The relatively new club also came runners-up in the Innovative Project of the Year category.

Councillor Judy Terry, Portfolio Holder for Sport and Culture, said: “This is a landmark event for Team Ipswich at a time when interest in sport is being revitalised following British success in the Beijing Olympics.

“These awards are another opportunity to encourage and support our local sporting talent.”

Karen Pickering MBE, Sports Ambassador for Team Ipswich, added: “It never ceases to amaze me that there is so much sporting talent in Ipswich.

“The Team Ipswich awards were superbly put together and I was thrilled to see swimming included amongst the range of sports recognised.”

Ian Twinley, Chairman of John Grose and Team Ipswich, said: “We are only too pleased that our showroom facilities can be used to host community events and we are never short of employees keen to be involved and lend their support as it is helping the very community that the majority of them live in.”

Full list of award winners

Sports Personality of the Year: Winner: Jo Ellis (hockey). Runner-up: Tracey Davidson (wheelchair football)

Young Sports Personality of the Year: Winner: Chris Walker-Hebborn (swimming). Runner-up: Matti Mortimore (javelin)

Unsung Hero: Winner: Chris Hatch (hockey). Runner-up: Simon O'Brien-Ellington (wheelchair football)

Triumph Over Adversity: Winner: Lilly Black (gymnastics). Runner-up: George Chanarin (gymnastics)

Coach of the Year: Winner: Kathryn James (basketball). Runner-up: Dave Champion (swimming)

Contribution to Disability Sport: Winner: Claire O'Brien-Ellington (wheelchair football). Runner-up: Mike Oakley (Athletics)

Junior Team of the Year: Winners: Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club's girls' team. Runners-up: Team Ipswich Swimming Club's Speedo League team

Club of the Year: Winners: Ipswich Basketball Club. Runners-up: Team Ipswich Swimming Club

Innovative Project: Winner: Ipswich Borough Council's 'Jumpers for Goalposts' and 'Game On'. Runners-up: Ipswich Charioteers Wheelchair Football Club

Spirit of the Games: Winners: Team Ipswich girls' hockey team. Runner-up: Alan Finlay

Senior Team of the Year: Winners: Ipswich Wolves futsal team. Runners-up: Ipswich Hockey Club's women's indoor team

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