Olympians Jessica Smith and Mike Mason were named the Valley Royals’ outstanding athletes at the local track and field club’s annual awards banquet on Wednesday.
Smith, a semifinalist in the 800 metres at the 2012 London Games, was the keynote speaker at the event.
She outlined her athletic progress from her youth in North Vancouver through her illustrious career at Simon Fraser University to last year when she realized a dream by becoming an Olympian. Smith emphasized that the process is not always smooth and requires a strong support group, a strong self-image and a firm belief in what is possible.
Mason placed eighth in the final of the men’s Olympic high jump competition, narrowly missing out on a medal.
Manpreet Grewal, the hammer throw silver medalist at the Canadian Midget Championships, was named the athlete of the year in the youth division. All-around athlete Hannah Konrad won those honors in the midget category, and Vikramjit Gondara, a triple medal winner in the throws at the B.C. championships, was selected as the winner in the junior development division.
Trevor Wight, the track coach at Yale Secondary, won the Jane Swan award for service to the community, and Doug Heldman, the hard-working vice president of the club, received the Valley Royals award for service.
Other award winners were as follows.
Inspirational athlete (Matt Peters award): Chantel Desch (junior), Hailey Gibson (youth), Mehroop Takhar (junior development).
Most improved (Greg Duhaime award): Travis Vugteveen (senior), Aisha Klippenstein (junior), Oliver Jorgensen (youth), Spencer Spenst (midget), Parker Janzen (JD).
Rookie of the year (Colleen Gibson award): Connor Harrison (youth), Callum Pilgrim (midget), Mackenzie Roy (JD).
All-around athlete (Toni Goode award): Maguire Wakelyn (JD).