Wycombe netball coach Kathryn Ratnapala was honoured at a glittering sports ceremony last Friday, as she was voted Performance Coach of the Year 2017, at the 12th annual Bucks & MK Sports Awards

Ratnapala has been described as an exceptional netball coach. 

She brings humour, enthusiasm and energy to every one of her High Wycombe teams. From Under 11s through to elite squads, she delivers focused, quality coaching sessions for every player.
Looking at individual performance, Kat provides written feedback and video analysis to each athlete. 

Ratnapala’s success is recognised in the achievements of her teams. She coached the U16-19 side to a National Championship. 

The Under 13s, Under 14s, Under 16s and Under 19s all qualified for the Junior Regional League. Last year, eight out the twelve teams were crowned Champions in their respective leagues. 

She said: “I am a little bit shocked. I didn’t realise I had been nominated. It’s a magnificent achievement to come here and celebrate what we do. It’s nice to have the award. It means a huge deal.”

The evening is organised to pay tribute to the people and organisations who make grass-roots sport happen in the area.

Wycombe also saw more success in the InnovEd Progress Secondary School of the Year 2017 category as Cressex Community School beat off the competition, thanks to the increased figures in pupils participating in sport and staff development programmes at the school.

Garth Taylor, head of PE, said: “The hard work of the whole department has come together and been rewarded. The students are our number one priority and we always tailor what we do to fit their needs.”

The Terry Cook Unsung Hero of the Year 2017 was won by Martyn Cartwright, junior athletics co-ordinator at Chiltern Harriers AC.

Through his 30-year commitment to Chiltern Harriers, Martyn has coached hundreds of junior and senior athletes. With his support, many juniors have gone on to represent Great Britain in international competitions. At 75 years old, he continues to compete for the club in cross-country and track & field events.

Last year’s event saw the launch of the Bucks and Milton Keynes Sporting Hall of Fame, an award to celebrate the county’s great elite level athletes, which was won last year by legendary rower, Sir Steve Redgrave.

This year, long jumper Greg Rutherford became the second inductee into the hall of fame and was presented with the award by the Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher.

The 31-year-old athlete, who won long jump glory for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, told the audience of local sporting heroes and dignitaries of his delight at being only the second person to receive this honour. 

He said: “Thank you hugely from the bottom of my heart – it really is a wonderful thing. To only be the second person, as well, is amazing.

“You never expect as a young athlete for things like this to come along.”

Guests at the event clapped and cheered as Rutherford talked them through his gold medal jump at the 2012 Olympics in London – with the help of Leap director Mark Ormerod who measured out the huge distance in the hall.

Retired British athlete Derek Redmond was keynote speaker. 
In an inspirational address, the Bletchley-born-and-bred sportsman said: “It’s nice to come back home and celebrate the success of sports in this county.”

He said sport gave him the confidence to try anything and believe he could ‘achieve pretty much anything’. 

He added: “I am very, very pleased to be here this evening. 

“Call me biased, but I love these sort of ceremonies where you can sit here and honour the people who have deserved to come up here and receive whatever award they have won.”