Margaret River surfer Jacob Willcox’s remarkable year on the water got even better on Friday night when he was crowned the South West Academy of Sport’s Sports Star of the Year.
The world under-16 surfing champion, who memorably upstaged international surfing icon Kelly Slater at a pro event in Portugal in October, was announced the winner of the coveted award during a glittering ceremony in Busselton.
Jacob, 16, said winning the Sports Star award was a great to way to cap a fantastic year.
“Winning this award was actually one of the goals I set for myself after I attended last year’s awards ceremony and saw how big it was, so to achieve that through my recent success is something I’m very happy with,” he said.
“SWAS has given me a lot of support as well as funding and helped me to travel to the world titles in Nicaragua, which I managed to win, and that was a major highlight of my year.
“As an athlete in a regional area you don’t really get as much attention as the kids from the major cities so SWAS is a major benefit, not just to me personally but all young sportspeople in the region.”
Held at the Abbey Beach Resort and featuring South West netball star Susan Fuhrmann as guest speaker, the red carpet event was held to celebrate the achievements of the region’s best young athletes, coaches and service providers.
It was clearly Willcox’s night, as he also took home the Individual Male Athlete of the Year award.
Other young sportsmen and women to win prizes included cycling sensation Connor Lambert, who was named Emerging Star, and Collie taekwondo champion Jayme-Lee Smith, who claimed the Individual Female Athlete of the Year award.
Cricket talent Hannah Merritt was honoured as the Partner Sport Female Athlete of the Year while hockey ace Elliot Barton picked up the Partner Sport Male Athlete of the Year award.
Talented basketball player Mitchell Lockhart’s efforts on and off the court paid off when he won the Community Achiever Award.
Hockey coach Lawrie Tylor was presented with the Wally Foreman Award while exercise physiologist Samantha Rankin won the Telstra Dedication to Task Award.
Jacob Willcox accepts the South West Academy of Sport Sports Star of the Year Award from Telstra Countrywide South West area general manager Boyd Brown.