2014: A Year in which sport made the headlines
It has been an outstanding year of sport and the Rutland and Stamford Mercury have been here to chronicle the achievements of dozens of outstanding individuals and teams.
Looking back 2014 really was a great year for individual athletes from the area with women leading the way.
Jade Etherington has not only been the star performer locally in 2014 but globally.
At the start of the year few people but the most avid ski fans and those who had been following the visually impaired skiers progress since she began racing competitively knew who the Bourne athlete was.
After an amazing week in March at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics all that changed when she came home with three silver medals and a bronze to be crowned Great Britain’s most successful ever Winter paralympic athlete in a single games.
Her achievement was so great that she met the nations medal target by herself with her silver medals in the slalom, downhill and super-combined and bronze in the down hill.
Etherington competed with guide Caroline Powell who guided the former Deepings School pupil down the route by giving her a series of instructions.
Etherington has now stepped away from the world of competitive skiing to focus on her career as a teacher.
In many ways 2014 has been the year of national champions for the area’s athletes. Just two weeks ago Stamford ABC’s young boxing star Zayn Sharizi was crowned the ABA Novice Championship Under 63kg winner.
He came up against England international James Hawley from the Keddle’s Boxing Club in Orpington and the two of them produced an absolute cracker of a bout. Despite a big hit to the nose causing heavy bleeding the Stamford boxer prevailed.
Also in the world of pugilism the area’s fighters have been winning medals for fun.
Bourne mixed martial artist Matt Powell competed for England this summer and won a silver medal at the World Championships.
In the local Judo scene few have exceeded the achievements of Vale Judo Club’s Megan Rowley who became national champion this summer.
The Casterton Business and Enterprise College pupil took gold in the British Schools Championships for the second time in three years and on May 4 won the top prize in the National Championships for the British Judo Council for the second time since 2012.
Bourne Army Cadets’ triathlon sensation Kayleigh Adams had another remarkable year. Having swum the English Channel last year, in 2014 she qualified for the World Championship for Sprint Triathlon in Edmonton, Canada, as part of the Great Britain u20s team.
Adams, aged 18, who lives in Deeping St James came ninth in the world in her age category and was the first British and European athlete to finish, meaning she has earned her pre-qualification place for Chicago in 2015.
Her achievements were all the more remarkable for the fact she did it in little more than a year after taking up the sport, having entered her first race in July, 2013 at Woodhall Spa.
On two wheels there has simply been no one faster than Thurlby BMX star Ryan Hutchinson who finished the year as the number one ranked rider in his age group in the British BMX series.
His string of outstanding performances throughout the year has seen him progress to the next level on the British cycling Olympic Development Programme.
The Bourne area seems to be home for young cycling stars and few have impressed more than Maddie Gammons.
After a great summer of road racing the Bourne Wheelers member is currently leading the national rankings in her age group for the gruelling discipline of cyclocross where athletes both run and cycle on an off road course.
She has been setting the pace all year for the junior athletes of the club.
There has been drama and success in equal measure for local drivers behind the wheel.
South Luffenham teenage karting sensation Teddy Wilson added his name to an illustrious honour board which includes Formula 1 royalty Jenson Button, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton when he was crowned 2014 MSA British Cadet Kart Champion,
In a nail-biting finale to the Super One British Karting Championships the 13-year-old Uppingham Community College pupil held his nerve to see off his rivals and take series victory.
Thurlby racing driver James Abbott’s pursuit of a third place finish in the 2014 Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain came down to the final lap of the season.
The Radical Mygale driver won his first Formula Ford race this season and pushed the top three championship drivers all the way, eventually finishing 6th by the smallest of margins.
Former Oakham School teacher Ellie Watton was the area’s only athlete competing in the Commonwealth Games and she came back from the Glasgow games with a silver medal as part of the England women’s hockey team.
Having been knocking the area’s best bowlers for six for years and taking wickets for fun Stamford Town cricketer Zak Chappell has signed a senior contract with Leicestershire County Cricket Club.
2015 could be a big year for the all rounder.
After a brilliant FA Cup run in the first half of the 2013/14 season Stamford AFC continued a good year finishing a comfortable 18th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
However perhaps claiming the Lincs Senior Trophy at Sincil Bank stadium in April on penalties after letting a 3-1 lead slip in the last couple minutes of the match against Brigg Town, was the biggest moment of the year.
Stamford started the 2014/15 season on fire - out-doing all expectations by going top of the league after winning their first five games of the season to claim the club of the month award.
Daniels striker Jordan Smith had a year to remember after making his international debut for Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Cup in Jamaica in November.
Deeping Rangers had a sterling year in the UCL Premier, finishing in fourth place and coming agonisingly close to lifting some silverware. Rangers were outgunned by Huntingdon to lose the UCL Knock Out Cup in extra-time in a nine-goal thriller at Yaxley in May.
In the UCL Division One Bourne Town and Blackstones were fighting it out at the wrong end of the table last season, with the Wakes finishing second from bottom and having to go through the ignominy of having to re-apply to join the league, and Blackstones just one place above them but safe.
Both club’s, under new management for the 2014-15 season, have started much better than last year and are currently mid table.
There was success for a whole host of clubs in 2014. Langtoft United finished second in the PDFL Division One in 2013/14, earning promotion into the Premier Division for the first time in the club’s history.
Perhaps even more remarkably the Vikings have adjusted to the step up brilliantly and are currently seventh in the league.
Langtoft’s reserve team won the PDFL Division Two to also move up along with neighbours Baston who finished second.
Wittering won promotion from the PDFL Division Three and Rutland DR also moved up from PDFL Division Five after winning in the play-offs.
Since the kick-off of the 2014-15 season the star performers have been Oakham United under the leadership of manager Wayne Oldaker and assistant manager Andrew Bailey.
Oakham have played some stunning football since August and sit second in the PDFL Premier at Christmas, three points behind super-club Coates Athletic, with two games in hand.
If the club’s rich rein of form continues, 2015 looks very much like the year of Oakham United.
In the cricket world the summer was all about three local clubs - Bourne, Uppingham and Oakham.
Bourne CC won their first Lincs Premier Division title for four years to complete a brilliant summer which also saw them win two Twenty20 titles.
As well as the Saturday league triumph, in the highest division in the county, Bourne won the Stamford Charity Cup and the Jaidka Cup.
Skipper Pete Morgan and Conrad Louth were two of Bourne’s leading players with the bat and Colin Cheer and Simon Prentice impressed with the ball.
Across the border in Rutland there was a stunning race to win the Leicestershire League Division Three with Uppingham just pipping Oakham to the title.
But come the end of the season there was double reason to celebrate with both clubs earning promotion.
Uppingham were denied a Saturday and Sunday league double when they were beaten on the final day of the season by Peterborough Town to let the Rutland League Division One title slip through their hands.
Ketton, transformed with an influx of stars over the summer, walked the Cambs League Division Two and were also promoted out of the Rutland League Division Three.
It was tough year for the area’s rugby teams but there was a welcome addition to the rugby community with the addition of Stoneygate, who moved their club to Uppingham in the summer in 2013.
At the end of their first season in Uppingham they lifted their first silverware with a dramatic last minute comeback to lift the Leicestershire Presidents Cup with a 31-27 victory over Cosby.