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Cameron Leslie Wins The Inaugural Future Post Rural Sportsperson With A Disability Award

Awarded Last Night at the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards

Aquablack Cameron Leslie has continued to be recognised for his outstanding 2022 season overnight by winning the Future Post Rural Sportsperson with a Disability Award at the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards. Leslie and the other winners were announced during a gala dinner at Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North last night. The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards 2023 have recognised and celebrated the extraordinary achievements and dedication of rural sports athletes and supporters.

This is the first time that the Sportsperson with a Disability category has been presented at these awards. Following on from Leslie’s recent nomination as one of 6 finalists for the Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, he has been recognised as a Tutakaka local for his achievements over the past 12 months.

Leslie recently competed in the 2022 Para World Swimming Championships in Madeira. Despite having to miss the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics due to Covid-19 and the birth of his second child, Leslie made a strong comeback at the World Championships. He won gold in the 100m Freestyle S4, and three silvers in the 50m Freestyle S4, 200m Freestyle S4 and 50m Backstroke S4. Across the World Championships, he broke his New Zealand and Oceania records multiple times, as well as breaking the world record in the 50m Freestyle S4 heat.

Leslie also had a stellar week at the 2022 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships. The co-captain was best on court in 2 matches assisting the team to finishing 8th overall.

Born with a quadruple limb deficiency, Cameron walks on prosthetics with adapted arm mobility. He is the Disability & Para Swimming Participation Manager at Swimming New Zealand and during his down time he manages his lifestyle block near Tutukaka, where he is hands-on with his cows and sheep.

Leslie was humbled upon receiving the award.

"For me it's an honour to receive the inaugural award. I love seeing progressions so it's awesome to see this award now implemented. Hopefully in years to come we can see more young sportspeople with a disability from rural backgrounds entered in and winning this award. I know through my work they are out there."
"It has been a big last 12 months and it doesn't happen without the support of family, friends, funding bodies and the like - so to them I say thank you. I'm not your stereotypical athlete so I really do mean it when I say thank you to those who enable me to do what I do whilst being a dad, husband, teammate and employee."

Congratulations Cameron!

Other Award Winners on the Night

Nathan Twaddle, the Judging Panel Convenor of the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards, said it was an exciting evening celebrating those who have made a lasting impact on the rural sporting community. Twaddle praised the young athletes, lifetime achievers, and those who work behind the scenes to ensure rural sports thrive.

Tim Myers, the Chief Executive Officer at Norwood, congratulated the winners and finalists and highlighted the dedication and commitment of rural athletes to their sport.

“It was fantastic to see Jack Jordan win the award of Norwood New Zealand Rural Sportsperson and Sportsman of the Year. Back in 2016, we watched as a fresh-faced Jack Jordan went up to receive the Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson Award. Since then, has gone from strength to strength and is now on top of the timbersports world.”

The 2023 Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards winners are an impressive group of athletes and supporters from diverse backgrounds. They include:

  • Jack Jordan from Taumarunui, winner of the PTS Logistics New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year Award

  • Megan Whitehead from Gore, winner of the Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year Award

  • Cameron Leslie MNZM from Tutakaka, winner of the Future Post Rural Sportsperson with a Disability Award

  • Reuben Alabaster from Taihape, winner of the Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson

Eileen Smith from Waimate, Deirdre Bartlett from Opake, Wairarapa, Elizabeth Mortland from Taihape, and Patsy Shirley from Lumsden are joint winners of the Levno Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rural Sports Award. Jason Wynyard from Kawakawa, Reuben de Jong from Auckland, and Dr Luk Chin from Tamahere, Waikato, are joint winners of The Courtesy Ford Lifetime Legacy Award.

Kerri Williams nee Gowler MNZM is the winner of The Sir Brian Lochore Memorial Award for Outstanding Sportsperson from a Rural Background. Finally, Jack Jordan was named the Norwood Supreme New Zealand Rural Sportsperson Award winner, recognising his outstanding achievements and dedication to his sport.

The evening was all the more special by the attendance of special guests, including Comedians Jono and Ben, Paralympian Gold Medallist Javelin Thrower Holly Robinson MNZM, Commonwealth Games Hammer Throw Gold Medallist Julia Ratcliffe, Ian Kirkpatrick MBE, and cricketer Adam Milne, also presented awards and added to the excitement of the event.

The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards celebrate the remarkable achievements and dedication of rural athletes and supporters who significantly promote and sustain rural sports in Aotearoa. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!

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