North crew steals thunder at awards

Kaitaia's Shelley Kitchen with father Colin 'Toss' Kitchen at the Northland Sports Awards in Whangarei on Friday shortly before being named as one of two new inductees to the Northland Legends of Sport.
Kaitaia's Shelley Kitchen with father Colin 'Toss' Kitchen at the Northland Sports Awards in Whangarei on Friday shortly before being named as one of two new inductees to the Northland Legends of Sport.

Far North athletes ended up stealing the limelight from their Whangarei counterparts at the 2017 Conbrio Northland Sports Awards which were held in front of an audience of more than 400 in Whangarei on Friday night.

Blair Tuke took out the Supreme Award for a fifth time at the 30th annual holding of the awards, along with the Sportsman of the Year award and the code award for yachting.

While the sportswoman of the year award went to hockey great Stacey Michelsen from Whangarei, Teauarangi Tana of Paihia was was presented with the Garry Frew Memorial as junior sportsperson of the year for her outstanding achievements in karate, and she also received a Kauri Club Scholarship grant of $1000 to help continue her sporting career.

Other highlights saw the Fat Oysters named junior team of the year, while Kaikohe AFC claimed the Northland Community Impact award (up for grabs by the regional winners of the same category at the Kaipara, Far North and Northland awards).

There was more local celebration after the announcement was made that the newest two inductees into the Northland Legends of Sport both hailed from the Far North — Shelley Kitchen of Kaitaia, and the late Robert Thomas from Kawakawa.

It was noted that Kitchen, born in 1979, competed in squash successfully for nearly two decades both at home and abroad and won 12 national titles and 16 international titles.

She reached a career high of No1 and No6 on the world U23 and open rankings respectively, represented New Zealand at three Commonwealth Games, her best result coming in 2006 when she won bronze in the women's singles and silver in the doubles (with Tamsyn Leevey).

Kitchen and Leevey also claimed the women's title at the 2006 World Doubles Championships to add to her runner-up placing with Glen Wilson in mixed doubles at the 2004 event.

Retiring from the game in 2010, Kitchen was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit on the 2011 New Year honours list for services to sport.

The other person inducted into legend status was the late Robert 'Bob' Thomas from Kawakawa for creating a long jump record in 1968 with a leap of 8.05m, which stands to this day. The jump was made at a twilight meet at Okara Park on his fourth attempt.

It saw Thomas referred to as 'The Flying Kiwi from Kawakawa', and he went to the top.

The record remains the second-longest standing New Zealand athletics record next to Peter Snell's 800m time in February 1962. Thomas was posthumously inducted and the Northland Legends of Sport award was accepted on his behalf by cousin Maureen Armstrong.

- Northland Age

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