Sport

Army Sports Awards 2019: Service Celebrates At Sandhurst

Top athletes with knockout talent have been honoured at RMA Sandhurst.

Athletes, coaches, teams and officials have gathered at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to celebrate another successful year for Army sport.

The year 2019 saw servicemen and women draw incredible recognition to the Armed Forces from across the world of sport, from newly-crowned national champion boxer to an enduring presence of long-distance runners making the shortlist.

The ceremony saw winners across multiple categories, including Team Of The Year, Sportswoman Of The Year, Sportsman Of The Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year, the Sportsman of the Year award went to boxer Lance Sergeant Natty Ngwenya, the English national champion who helped the Army team to reclaim their Inter-Services title.

The heavyweight looks to lace up his gloves in the professional ranks in 2020, but not before stealing the show with an entertaining acceptance speech.

He said: "I actually took up boxing when I got in the Army, I had no intention of doing it, I just wanted to get off a two-week exercise in.

The heavyweight went on to say he was "humbled" and "honoured" to receive the award.

"It’s such a testament to, not only me, but my battalion and my commanding officer, to give me the time to do this," he said.

Watch the full ceremony:

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Athletics star Sgt Dani Hodgkinson took Sportswoman of the Year after a terrific 2019.

An experienced Army athlete, she took her exploits to another level in 2019 - representing England in multiple endurance disciplines.

"Being around other sportspeople gives you that boost... I do a lot of training on my own, but the other girls must do a lot aswell. 

"It's not the easiest sport, you can't relax at any point... you can't hide with running really!"

Sgt Hodginson also featured in the Army's Team of the Year, the Cross Country and Road Running team, which has dominated military distance running for the past three decades.

The experienced Lieutenant Colonel Richard 'Nav' Naivalurua won the Sports Official of the Year award for his achievements with Rugby League, paying tribute taking on the "unsexy" yet vital officiating roles in sport.

Speaking to Forces News, the former rugby union man labeled his exploits a "labour of love", touching on efforts to welcome players of all levels into the league game.

The final award of the night was a Lifetime Achievement award given to Charles Bromley Gardner, who arrived on stage after being duly honoured for his 40 years of commitment to Army Sport.

Guests at Sandhurst were treated to a wealth of formal addresses, as well as a luxurious three-course meal.

Attending the event, Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith encouraged everyone present to continue to hit their targets.

"Keep going. Keep inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.

"Bring on that next generation, who are going to be sitting here in five years' time."