RAF Names Sporting Heroes Of 2017 At Halton

The RAF has named its outstanding sports stars of 2017 at a ceremony in RAF Halton's officer's mess.

For the second year in a row, a rugby player has been chosen as RAF Sportswoman of the Year.

Corporal Amy Cockayne, who has scored 13 tries in 19 England internationals this year, including at the World Cup, was delighted at the recognition.

RAF Sports Awards 2017 - Amy Cockayne

She said: "There's been some amazing people nominated, so to be nominated [myself] was crazy.

"I can't quite believe it when you listen to what the other people have done. [I'm] truly honoured to win this award."

Sportsman of the Year was international hockey player Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford (pictured top), who helped England to win bronze at the European Championships. He said:

"The RAF have been really supportive... [they] got me to where I am today and I can't be more thankful."

The women's alpine ski team, this year's Inter-Services champions, were named Team of the Year. 

RAF Sports Awards 2017 - alpine ski team

The squad has now won the title three times in the past six years, as well as taking four individual titles. Flight Lieutenant Claire Nixon told Forces Network:

"The real victory is the increased participation that we've had in the girls' team... Getting people in involved [is what RAF sport is about]."

Lifetime achievement awards went to Squadron Leader Sam Smithson for her services to judo, John "Gus" Lees for swimming and waterpolo and Sqn Ldr Paul Wyatt for basketball.

The latter said he's keen to get more airmen and women involved in his chosen sport.

"What we're trying to do is get down to the station levels and out to the units, and out to those people who don't necessarily work on units where basketball is played.

"[We want to] bring them into the sport and develop them and grow them, so they can enjoy a sport that I've enjoyed throughout my entire life."

Presenting the awards was the head of RAF sport, Air Vice-Marshal Warren James.

All the winners now become nominees for the UK Armed Forces Sports Awards, which will take place early next year.

To see all the winners, nominees and more, just click the video at the top of the page...

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