Briar Atkinson named Taranaki Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Paritutu’s Briar Atkinson has been named as the Taranaki Junior Sportswoman of the Year.

At a gala dinner for the annual Sportsperson of the Year awards held at the Devon Hotel on Friday evening, Atkinson overcame an impressive field to become the first bowler to take out the title.

Headlining an impressive 2023 for Atkinson was her victory in the New Zealand champion-of-champions singles in Hastings in July.

That victory followed Atkinson representing the New Zealand Under-26 side at the Oceania Challenge earlier in the year. There, she skipped the women’s pair to a gold medal.

Atkinson also claimed three Taranaki titles during the season – including the open and champion-of-champions singles double – on the way to collecting her gold star.

She was unable to attend the awards function as she is currently competing in the Hong Kong Classic.

However, on a video recording played during the night, Atkinson said that she was thrilled with the award, which was accepted by her mother, Tina Atkinson-Watt, in person.

Atkinson made the last 16 of the women’s singles in Hong Kong and, with Selina Goddard, is currently well-placed to qualify in the pairs.

Atkinson’s success continued a rich history for bowls at the Sportsperson of the Year awards, which were first established by Taranaki Newspapers in 1965, with Ross “Pascoe” Brown the inaugural winner.

Bowls got its first taste of success when Dave Baldwin won the title. Over the years, various additional awards have been added, such as the team title in 1991. Paritutu’s interclub side became the first winners, one of five times bowls has taken that particular award.

Bowls success at the Taranaki Sportsperson of the Year awards

Overall winner:

1974 Dave Baldwin (Commonwealth Games gold medal, Dominion fours winner)

1990 Taranaki men’s intercentre team – Brian Baldwin, Geoff Hawken, Neville Hill, Chas Candy, John Murtagh, John Lambert and Dave Baldwin (New Zealand intercentre winners)

1991 Brian Baldwin (New Zealand Superbowls and interclub winner)

1995 Brian Baldwin (Dominion singles winner)

Sportsman of the Year:

1995 Brian Baldwin (Dominion singles winner)

Sportswoman of the Year:

2005 Cathy Fleming (Dominion singles finalist, NZ interclub winner)

2013 Val McEldowney (Dominion singles winner)

Team of the Year:

1991 Paritutu men’s seven – Brian Baldwin, Bryan Sanger, John Murtagh, Alan Malloy, Gary Mounsey, John Lambert and Dave Baldwin (New Zealand interclub winners)

2003 Lepperton women’s fours – Mary Maxwell, Elaine Miller, June Ward and Ellie Goble (New Zealand women’s club fours)

2005 Paritutu women’s seven – Cathy Fleming, Heather Johns, Raewyn McEldowney, Val Keightley, Dulcie Bishop, Valda Rowan and Margaret Baldwin (New Zealand interclub winners)

2006 Alton men’s fours – Mark Anderson, John Roberts, Bruce Phillips and Grant Anderson (New Zealand men’s club fours)

2015 Taranaki men’s intercentre team – Dean Elgar, Cameron Nairne, Scott Roberts, Dennis Osborne, John Garrud, Steve Walker and Craig Johns (New Zealand intercentre winners)

Junior Sportsman of the Year:

2018 Aidan Zittersteijn (Commonwealth Games bronze medal)

Junior Sportswoman of the Year:

2023 Briar Atkinson (New Zealand club singles winner, New Zealand Under 26)

Volunteer of the Year:

1995 Gloria Bryant

Impact award:

2022 John Murtagh

Special award:

1999 Hugh Moss QSM

2003 Alan Boulton

Hall of Fame:

2012 Dave Baldwin