HELENSBURGH’S top young athletes looked back on a year completely unlike any other at their recent annual awards ceremony.

Held, like almost everything else in the past 12 months, as a virtual event, coaches and young members at Helensburgh Amateur Athletics Club (HAAC) used the event as a chance to look back to the 2019-20 indoor competitions and to reward the commitment and effort shown at training sessions as they presented a restricted number of awards.

The prize for the best performance in a throwing event went to Robert Court, who capped a series of excellent performances during the indoor league season with a big personal best and a seventh-place finish in the Scottish Schools Indoor Championship.

Holly Kenhard won the ‘best performance in a jumping event’ prize for a series of consistent finishes in the indoor season which won her a ‘Power of 10’ Scottish ranking of 11th place in her age group and eighth place finishes in the indoor ‘Scottish Schools’ and the national age group championships.

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Matthew Gall was crowned the HAAC cross country champion following a series of fine performances which saw him qualify for the west of Scotland team in the Inter District Championship thanks to a 15th place finish at the West District championships in Balloch last December.

Scarlett Jones and Harris McLean both won prizes for the most promising athlete, while there were also joint winners of the ‘merit award’ accolade in the shape of Isla McKinnon and Cameron McDaid.

William Scott won the first of the event’s two ‘most improved athlete’ awards after demonstrating significant improvement in his times and performances throughout the year, while Amirah Hassan took the second such award after showing the benefits of regular training and a greater focus on endurance running.

The Club Ambassador award, meanwhile, went to the three athletes who reached the final of the 2019-20 Scottish Athletics Indoor League at under-20 level – Amy Court, Katie Flett and Sophie Michie, who have been team-mates since they were nine years old and have all been competing for the club regularly since 2012.

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Club president Laura Johnstone, in her speech introducing the President’s Award, remembered HAAC president Chris Moses, who sadly passed away in January 2020, and his considerable contribution to the club.

Presenting the award, virtually, to Amy Court, Laura said she had demonstrated one of the key attributes Chris brought to the club – the notion of “grit” within the ethos of the club, demonstrating the “passion and perseverance towards long-term goals”.

In addition to competing regularly, Amy has regularly been involved in HAAC’s athletics camps, and has completed a coaching assistant’s qualification alongside her own training, competition and schoolwork.

Laura concluded: “I would also like to take time to thank all the coaching team and parent helpers who work tirelessly to provide such a high standard of training for our junior members. This year, more than ever, their unfaltering dedication has been hugely appreciated.

“They have faced many challenges but each one has been met with level headed professionalism and a relentless drive to ensure our junior members continue to enjoy, thrive and develop their athletic skills in a safe environment.

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“I’m sure Chris would agree that 2020 required coaches to show as much ‘grit’ as athletes! I know I speak for all junior members and their caregivers when I say that ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough.”

The final award, voted for by the athletes themselves, produced a top three for the ‘athletes’ athlete of the year’ – Matthew Cameron, Katie Flett and Scarlett Jones – with Katie emerging the winner after a final round of voting.

In addition to the regular awards, the night also saw the winner of the club’s junior Lockdown Challenges announced – with Matthew Cameron pipping younger brother Lewis to the prize after 12 weekly challenges and three Captain’s Challenges, ranging from physical to artistic to delicious, from a field of 35 competitors.

Meanwhile, following Monday’s announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon placing the whole of mainland Scotland back into a full lockdown, HAAC’s training sessions have been put on hold until Covid-19 case numbers fall to a position where restrictions can be relaxed once more.

The individual challenges set to members when the country was first locked down back in the spring will return to give runners something to aim for while they are unable to train as a group.

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