THE Martial Arts Centre, BMX World Champion Freia Challis and World Duathlete Sue Clarke were among the big winners as the Braintree District once again saluted its sporting stars.

At a gala ceremony at the Braintree Arts Theatre, the sixth Active Braintree Sports Awards were held to honour another 12 months of sporting achievements in Braintree, Witham, Halstead and the surrounding areas.

Clarke was named as Sports Personality of the Year after the 63-year-old from Great Notley claimed silver at the 2019 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Spain.

It continued a stunning run of success for the former teacher where she has shone on the global stage over the last five years – including becoming age group world and European champions - in the sport that combines running and cycling disciplines.

Braintree BMX Club rider Challis, meanwhile, earned her award as Young Sports Personality of the Year after winning an incredible gold at the UCI World BMX Championships in Belgium earlier this year.

The audience at the awards ceremony was impressed as a video was shown of the 11-year-old from Halstead claiming her world title in Zolder.

And there was a double honour for the Braintree-based Martial Arts Centre as their year of successes in national, European and World competitions saw them claim the Sports Club of the Year award as well as having Sensei David Wilson being named as Sports Coach of the Year.

The winners across all ten categories this year had to show an incredibly high level of achievement and Active Braintree chairman John Wood said the standard of nominations had impressed him.

He said: “We had another great list of people nominated for the awards this year and as always, the quality has been really top notch.

“It is really great that the Braintree district can produce so many sports people working to such a high level and have people who have worked in sport and recreation for a lifetime and given such wonderful service.

“To see that reflected in these awards is lovely.”

The longevity of service to sport was highlighted in the Lifetime Services Award given to Halstead Boxing Club head coach George Cook and Wood was pleased to see the way that Active Braintree awards have continued to grow each year.

He added: “The awards are growing year by year and I think that’s the case throughout the county.

“You look at the Essex awards that have grown over time and ours have followed that all the way.

“When we first started six years ago, we had the ceremony in a committee room in Braintree Town Hall and now here we are with a fantastic gala event at the Braintree Arts Theatre.

“It’s just growing each year and we are very proud of the awards.”

ACTIVE BRAINTREE SPORTS AWARDS 2019: Sports Personality of the Year (sponsored by George Yard Shopping Centre): Winner: Sue Clarke (Duathlon); Highly commended: Oli Cutmore (BMX Racing), Jason Bradley (Boxing).

Young Sports Personality of the Year (sponsored by George Yard Shopping Centre): Winner: Freia Challis (BMX Racing); Highly commended: Elizabeth Forster (Basketball), Teegan Rayner (Athletics and Swimming).

Sports Club of the Year (sponsored by Braintree Village): Winner: The Martial Arts Centre; Highly commended: Great Bradfords FC (Football), Braintree & District Athletic Club.

Sports Coach of the Year (sponsored by Braintree & Witham Times): Winner: David Wilson (Martial Arts); Highly commended: Ed Booker (Football), Julian Allen (BMX Racing).

Active School or College of the Year (sponsored by Community Iron): Winner: Howbridge Junior School; Highly commended: Richard De Clare School, Beckers Green Primary School.

Lifetime Services Award (sponsored by BDC chairman): Winner: George Cook (Boxing); Highly commended: Charles Revell (Cricket), Christopher Card (Hockey).

Unsung Hero (sponsored by Milbank Concrete Products): Winner: Sharon Mills (Football); Highly commended: Tim Harrison (Cricket), Tom Paget (Boxing).

Physical Activity Project of the Year (sponsored by Provide): Winner: Walk & Talk; Highly commended: Braintree Foyer, Braintree Walking Netball.

Young Community Volunteer (sponsored by Greenfields Community Housing): Winner: Haydn Hawkins (Running); Highly commended: Spencer Hume (Football), Yasmin Williams (Gymnastics), Acacia Hawkins (Running).

Services to Disability Sport (sponsored by Fusion): Winner: Tom Doughty (Sport for Confidence); Highly commended: Fenham Lodge (Boccia and Swimming), James McMillan (Riding for the Disabled).