Sun, Nov 19, 2023 12:12 AM

Dressage star goes back-to-back at sports awards


Peter Jones

Marlborough’s dressage ace Melissa Galloway claimed back-to-back Marlborough Sportsperson of the Year titles tonight.

During a glittering evening at the Marlborough Events Centre, Melissa initially won the Churchill Hospital Sportswoman of the Year category, then was awarded the annual Marlborough Sports Awards’ supreme prize for the second consecutive year.

Her recent rise in the international rankings of her demanding and exacting sport has been spectacular. Melissa and Windermere J’Obei have now moved up to 33 in the world rankings, the highest position ever achieved by a New Zealand combination.

Squash player Chris Hebberd was named junior sportsman of the year. With him is Ed Shuttleworth from Sport Tasman.

After returning home from a campaign in Europe, Melissa continued to reap the rewards of her international training and experience. She and her mount have proved supreme in Australasia, picking up 11 straight victories at International Grand Prix Level. After dominating the New Zealand National Championships, the duo took on the Australians in Sydney. Once again, they remained unbeaten and took out all three competitions to become Sydney CDI Grand Prix Champions. After a winter of training the pair headed back across the ditch for the Australian National Championships in Melbourne where they once again took out both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle - this time setting a new Personal Best and New Zealand record score of 79.865 percent.

Skater Erin Green, with category sponsor Glenn Kirby from Bayleys, was voted Junior Sportswoman of the Year.

Melissa said the award capped off a wonderful year.

“I certainly didn’t expect to win for the second year in a row,” she said. “Especially hearing about the amazing things the other nominees had been doing with their sport.

“I have to thanks my husband, my parents, God, who is massive for me, plus my very loyal personal sponsors.

“I feel like I have huge support behind me at the moment … it is as if the whole of the equestrian community is behind me as I try to get to Paris.

“It is so special to feel that support from everybody, and Marlborough in particular.”

Dave Murray picked up the Sportsman of the Year trophy on behalf of his son, international rower Tom Murray. With him is category sponsor Kimberley Judd from Greywacke. 

Next up for the two-time winner is a trip next week to the next Olympic qualifier in Cambridge, which counts as a selection event for the World Cup final in Saudi Arabia in April. Early next year she plans to head back to Europe to train at the Van Olst Stables in the Netherlands, then will attend a string of competitions leading up to the Paris Olympics.

She was one of five category winners on the night who went on to contest the main award.

The Glenn Kirby, Bayleys Marlborough, Junior Sportswoman of the Year was speed skater Erin Green, who claimed 13 NZ titles and set four national records. She represented her country on several occasions then capped off a stellar season with a trip to the world championships in Italy.

Melissa Galloway was presented with the Sportswoman of the Year award by Churchill Trust representative Andy Meighan. 

Winner of the Redwood Trust Junior Sportsman of the Year award was squash player Chris Hebberd, who attended the world junior squash champs in Melbourne, one of three trips he made across the ditch wearing the silver fern. He also guided the MBC squash team to third place nationally.

The Greywacke Sportsman of the Year was rower Tom Murray, who made a remarkable recovery from a debilitating bout of long COVID to earn a place in the NZ elite four. The new-look crew picked up a bronze medal at the third World Cup in Lucerne, then repeated the effort at the world champs, qualifying the Kiwi boat for next year’s Olympics.

The MBC squash team claimed the Team of the Year award. Presenting their award is Neil Sinclair from category sponsors WK Advisors and Accountants.

The fifth category, the WK Advisors and Accountants Team of the Year was taken out by the Marlborough Boys’ College squash team of Chris Hebberd, Jack Frisken, Reuben Henry, Max Benge and Ben Pottinger, who performed outstandingly well in 2023 at both regional and national competitions. They won the Tasman Secondary Schools tournament and secured second place at the South Island Secondary School champs. Then they went on to complete an outstanding season with a third place at the National Secondary Schools championships, the team finishing among the top three teams in the country for the third consecutive year.

The popular Marlborough Medal category, where someone who has given sterling service to their particular sport is recognised, was one of the evening’s most well-received segments. The recipient of the 2023 Marlborough Medal was long-standing rugby referee Malcolm Taylor, a man who has put countless hours into his chosen sport over many decades and is still refereeing on the local scene. He received a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage.

Long-serving rugby referee Malcolm Taylor was awarded the Marlborough Medal. Holding the plaque is Floorpride representative Kerry Fyfe. 

Major awards:

Fairweathers Marlborough Medal: Malcolm Taylor - rugby

Glenn Kirby, Bayleys Marlborough Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Erin Green – speed skating

Redwood Trust Junior Sportsman of the Year: Chris Hebberd – squash

Churchill Hospital Sportswoman of the Year: Melissa Galloway – dressage

Greywacke Sportsman of the Year: Tom Murray - rowing

WK Advisors and Accountants Team of the Year: MBC senior squash team

Marlborough Weekly, Blenheim Round Table, Sport Tasman Sportsperson of the Year: Melissa Galloway – dressage

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