Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Derval Finally Recognised!

Finally, sense has prevailed. After been snubbed at the RTE's 'prestigious' Sports Personality of the Year Awards, Derval O'Rourke received the recognition her achievements merited when she was announced the Irish Times Vhi Healthcare Sportswoman of the Year 2006.

What's more after reviewing the competition I have now come to the conclusion that 2006 was probably the greatest ever year for Irish women in sport. Not only did we have Derval's great achievements (listed below) but 2006 was also the year of Katie Taylors emergence as a World star, Briege Corkery's Cork teams did the DOUBLE DOUBLE in Football and camogie, Madeline Perry reached 6th in the World in squash and Joanne Cuddihy stock began to rise!

Derval won the Award for her outstanding achievements during 2006. The highpoints of a memorable twelve months included Derval winning the World Indoor Gold 60m hurdles in Moscow, breaking her own Irish indoor record in the process. A feat repeated six times during the season with her record now standing at 7.84 seconds.

She followed up her brilliant indoor season with more success outdoors during the summer as she won a silver medal in the 100m hurdles at the European Championships in Gothenburg. She also broke more personal records outdoors in the 100m hurdles and was part of the Irish women’s 100m relay team that set a new Irish women’s record in Gothenburg.

There is talk now that Derval wont compete indoors this season in anticipation ofthe main outdoor competitions ahead.

Congratulating Derval and each of the monthly nominees, Minister Hanafin said, "Today we honour Irish Sportswomen who are national and international heroes and who have represented us proudly in the international arena and will no doubt be an inspiration to young girls around the country. The Irish Times Vhi Healthcare Sportswoman of the Year Award highlights the calibre of Irish sportswomen and their success in a range of sporting activity from athletics to camogie from boxing to golf."

A native of Cork, now residing in Dublin, Derval was selected by the judging panel from a list of thirteen* monthly nominees, who were also honoured at the Awards ceremony today.

Commenting on the announcement, Greg Allen, Chairperson for the judging panel, said, "While Derval’s success was unquestionably the performance of the year in women’s sport, it was also, for many people, the greatest achievement through all Irish sport in 2006 in a period of conspicuously high performance levels in a wide variety of sports."

The Irish Times Vhi Healthcare Sportswoman of the Year Award is the first award of its kind in Ireland and is aimed specifically at women in sport, recognising their achievements and creating greater awareness of their sports.

Commenting on the Awards, Vincent Sheridan, Chief Executive, Vhi Healthcare said, "This year's award winners continue the trend of Irish women sports stars competing at the highest level on both the national and international stage. They are rightly being acknowledged for the huge contribution they make to Irish society and the vital function they serve as outstanding role models to younger generations of aspiring sportswomen."

The Award was launched in 2004, with each nominee a monthly winner selected by a panel of three independent judges.

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