AN explosion of cheers marked the moment when Gympie endurance mountain biking athlete Sean Bekkers was crowned 2009 Sports Star of the Year at the weekend.
A visibly stunned Bekkers accepted the honour at the Gympie Civic Centre Saturday evening during the Gympie and District Sportsmen’s Association 2009 Sports Star of the Year Awards.
“It’s a massive surprise,” Bekkers told the 170 guests present for the ceremony as he attempted to compose himself.
“I just want to thank the Gympie and District Sportsmen’s Association for the recognition.”
The 2009 Sports Star of the Year managed to edge out 11 other nominees for the award, decided by the barest of margins during the voting process.
Gympie Apex president Glen Smith opened the golden envelope to deliver the eagerly anticipated announcement.
Bekkers’ family was on hand to witness the memorable moment and the athlete paid tribute to their support.
“A massive thanks to my family for all of their support and making all this possible,” he said.
“My partner Kiri has been source of strength for me and her help makes the difference.
“I also have to say a huge thanks to Kiri’s mother who has been the ideal babysitter for us during competition.”
Bekkers’ victory in lifting the title of 2009 Sports Star of the Year marks a new brave new era in Gympie sport.
It’s the first time endurance mountain biking has been recognised at the awards, demonstrating just how diverse Gympie sport has become in recent years.
“That was my main goal,” Bekkers said.
“If I could come away and have a handful of people know more about endurance mountain biking, then that was enough for me.”
Winning the top award on the night, however, has ultimately given far more exposure for the sport than Bekkers could have possibly imagined.
Bekkers’ claim to fame came on the back of an incredibly impressive 2009 and the audience marvelled as his list of achievements were canvassed.
Numerous wins at state and national endurance mountain biking events filled his sporting resume to the brim.
But it was his success overseas in Canada that gilded his shot at the prestigious award.
Bekkers competed in the 24 Hour World Endurance Mountain Bike Championships in Canada last year, finishing first in his age group and 18th overall against the very best in the sport the world had to offer.
The dedicated athlete touched on his training regime during his acceptance speech, raising a few eyebrows when detailing the nature of his training rides between Gympie and Brisbane.
“I think this weekend when I go back to Brisbane my wife may let me use the car,” he quipped.
With the title of 2009 Sports Star of the Year safely in his possession, Bekkers now says he is motivated more than ever to continue achieving.
“It’s just a great feeling to be acknowledged for my efforts and I have lots of motivation to keep doing well,” he said.
Meanwhile, 2009 Sports Star of the Year Awards organizer Jackie Curran was overjoyed with the success of the night.
“It’s gone really well,” she said.
“The entire night flowed really well and I think everyone has enjoyed themselves.”
Curran thanked the members of the Gympie and District Sportsmen’s Association that were on the awards’ committee.
“A lot of effort went in from every one on the committee behind the scenes, so a big thank you to everybody,” she said.
“I’m just happy and proud at what we have achieved and it was great to see all the sport stars gathered here tonight.”
Curran joined Bekkers in celebrating the diversity of Gympie sport.
“We had so many different sports on show tonight, so Gympie has to be very proud of that,” she said.
I am super stoked to have won this award and to get some more recognition for the sport of 24hr mountain biking.
Thanks heaps to the Sportmen's Association you guys do a great job.