The BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) 2014 had a special interest to TTARC this year. Graeme Mark, having won the Northern region Unsung Hero award, was a guest of the BBC at SPOTY and, along with 15 other regional winners, was a candidate in the national Unsung Hero category also awarded at SPOTY. And so a convoy of cars with 14 supporters of Graeme left Cumbria to attend the SPOTY broadcast in Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Sunday.
Before the announcement of the winner of the Unsung Hero award the audience was introduced to all 10 candidates for the Sports Personality of the Year award. There were short films introducing them and a live interview on the stage. All were so passionate about their sport, totally dedicated to their training and often worked with schools to pass on interest in sport.
There were other awards made. The greatest applause and standing ovation was for the winners of the Helen Rollason award for inspirational achievement in the face of adversity. This was awarded to all who took part in the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. What these competitors had achieved was totally humbling.
The winner of the Unsung Hero was awarded to Jill Stidever for helping children with special needs learn to swim. Although not a winner on this night Graeme’s achievement in getting to the final of this award that recognises people who have made an extraordinary difference in their community was fantastic and a great recognition of the commitment and dedication he has shown in his 23 years as Captain and 40+ years association with TTARC.
I walked away from the event with the realisation that there are no short-cuts to being a sportsperson; it takes hard work and graft. But also success in sport relies on all those people who support the athletes. We should recognise that without these people our own sporting achievements would not be possible.