Paralympian honours Priestley’s sports stars

Dame Sarah Storey with Matt Wilkinson, Courtney Dean and Priestley's international sports stars
Dame Sarah Storey with Matt Wilkinson, Courtney Dean and Priestley’s international sports stars

SOME of Warrington’s finest young sports stars have been honoured for their achievements by one of the UK’s most successful Paralympians.

Dame Sarah Storey – 11-time gold medallist in swimming and cycling – presented the honours at Priestley College’s annual sports awards.

She received a standing ovation from the teen stars, some of whom are already representing their country in a variety of sports.

Priestley’s Head of Sport Nigel Howells told the audience the college was determined to build on Britain’s sporting success of 2012 after receiving a £50,000 grant to promote enrichment from Sport England.

“We are going to build on the Olympic legacy of 2012 with improved facilities and equipment,” he said.

However, the focus of Tuesday’s ceremony was the achievements of students who have impressed tutors, coaches and spectators over the past year.

Fellow students voted rugby star Matt Wilkinson and international water polo player Courtney Dean their sports personalities of the year.

Priestley's sports personalities of the year - Matt and Courtney - were presented with their awards by Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey
Priestley’s sports personalities of the year – Matt and Courtney – were presented with their awards by Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey

Matt, who is studying BTEC Level 3 Sport, Fitness and Coaching, coaches young rugby players as part of his work with the Warrington Wolves Foundation.

In 2012 the former Bridgewater High School pupil carried the Olympic torch as it made its way to London.

“It’s been an incredible 12 months for me and to be chosen by the other students at Priestley as their sportsman of the year is a great feeling,” said Matt, from Latchford.

Courtney, who is also from Latchford and studies A2 PE, trains before college most days and is hoping to play in the next water polo World Championships.

The former St Nicholas High School pupil has already competed in World and European championships across Europe.

“There are so many really talented sports students at Priestley that it means a lot to be chosen by them for this award,” she said.

Priestley’s winning rugby team was awarded for its victory in the North West Conference and the college’s hockey team also received a trophy for winning the British College Sport NW hockey league.

The basketball team’s win in the North West League Division 2 was also recognised as were those students who have earned impressive academic achievements.

Dame Sarah also presented prizes to Priestley students who have competed for their country in sports as varied as swimming, handball, cricket, rugby and karate.

She told the students: “If you work hard and follow your dream you can achieve it.”

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