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Celebrating a year inWelsh sport.

Byline: CAROLYN HITT

IT is the season of sports awards, reviews of the year and arty packages from Eddie Butler musing on what might have been for Welsh rugby.Atime to reward achievement, rue the near misses and reflect on a year in which Gavin Henson'smost intense rivals for competitive glory were Ann Widdecombe and that pretty boy off Hollyoaks.

The gongs are already being dispensed. Gareth Bale was voted BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year this week, marking the sensational season with Spurs that has also culminated in him making the shortlist for Uefa's Team of the Year.

Dai Greene - winner of the 400m hurdles at 2010's three major athletics events, the European Championships, Delhi'sCommonwealth Gasmes, and the IAAF Continental Cup - scooped the prize for Outstanding Performance of the Year at the Sports Journalists' Association Awards.

And next Sunday sees Sue Barker and Gary Lineker host that sports extravaganza in an aircraft hangar somewhere in the Midlands.

There will be lots of people you recognise in the audience looking slightly cold, constant wisecracks from Lineker and a bizarre sporting stunt. In times past this usually involved Jimmy Hill, Frank Bruno, a giant football and two straws.

So don't be surprised if Tom Daley performs a double back somersault with two-and-a-half twists into a large tank with Sue Barker strapped to his back.

And be prepared for the usual sense of armchair outrage. After finally recognising Joe Calzaghe and Ryan Giggs' glories in recent years, BBC Sports Personality of The Year has resumed the default position of making these annual awards a Taff-free zone.

The judges haven't managed to shortlist a singleWelsh sports person - despite Dai Greene's triple athletics triumph. But fear not. There are other ways to celebrate a year in Welsh sport. You've heard of the Brit Awards, here come the Hitt Awards.

THE DEREK BROCKWAY AWARD FOR METEOROLOGICAL FORTITUDE: CELTIC MANOR OK so it rained a bit when the Ryder Cup came toWales but only our drains could take the strain. On any other European course, the deluge would have been disastrous but Celtic Manor coped magnificently, allowing Monty's boys the extra day in the sun that clinched the trophy.

THE LAZARUS AWARD FOR MIRACULOUS COMEBACKS: WALES RUGBY TEAM TheWales v Scotland weekend was always going to be a little unusual. It began with a full-frontalWales Today newsflash courtesy of a kilted fan from Hawick and ended with Andy Powell taking a golf buggy for a 15mph spin down to an M4 junction in search of a full Welsh breakfast. But what happened in between was even more surreal. In a frenzied fightback through the dying minutes of the gameWales scored 17 unanswered points to steal victory. It was one of the great "IWas There" moments in the history ofWelsh rugby. Just a shame quite a few fans weren't - they'd already left, assumingWales had lost. One who stayed said: "It was the life of aWelsh rugby supporter summed up in five minutes. From down in the dumps to ecstatic heights in no time at all!" THE "DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE WHAT THE HELL'S GOING ON" AWARD (SPONSORED BY S4C): GLAMORGAN CRICKET CLUB Just when you thoughtWelsh language television had the monopoly on board room intrigue,Welsh sport is bowled over by the chaos at the Swalec. Chairman Paul Russell's installation of Colin Metson as managing director and Alviro Petersen as captain has sparked the resignation of some of Glamorgan's most iconic names. President Peter Walker and coach Matthew Maynard have walked plus captain Jamie Dalrymple and main sponsor Nigel Roberts. Russell may say the sweeping changes are crucial to the club's survival but the way it's been handled is just not cricket.

THE SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES AWARD: WALES COMMONWEALTH GAMES TEAM When it comes toWelsh women in sport, the male-dominated media finds it difficult to contemplate names beyondWales' Sexiest RugbyWAGs. But 2010 brought a new generation of fabulous sporting females to the fore.Wales' Commonwealth Games team got in touch with its feminine side. Swimmer Jazz Carlin showed why she's nicknamed Pitbull with a feisty silver in the 200m freestyle, the delightful Becky James came within a tyre's width of gold in the velodrome and Rhondda's Carys Parry fought back from injury to win silver in the hammer with a season's best throw. Not forgetting Jenny McLoughlin's 100m T37 silver medal and Jade Jones' Taekwondo gold at the Youth Olympic Games.

THE SIMON COWELL AWARD FOR OUTRAGEOUS PUBLICITY STUNTS: THE WRU MARKETING DEPARTMENT When the newWelsh rugby jersey was launched this year they didn't bother with the usual guff about sweat-reducing moisture retention panels or a stirring quote from the Mabinogion stitched inside the collar - they just whipped the curtain off a 100ft banner of Gavin Henson. Cue media frenzy and PR bonanza... even though four months later the only shirt Gavin's wearing has sequins on it.

THE DOUBLE DELIGHT ATHLETICS AWARD: DAI GREENE AND RHYS WILLIAMS Lots of greatWelsh things have come in twos... Ryan & Ronnie, Edwards & Bennett and now Greene & Williams. The European Athletics Championships brought us the lovely spectacle of two Welshmen sprinting to gold and silver in the 400m hurdles final.

THE COMEDY COMMENTARY AWARD: JONATHAN DAVIES Never short of a quip, Jonathan "Numbers" Davies added another classic to the Jiffy Lexicon of Rugby when referee Nigel Owens gathered all 30 players around him in last week's Scarlets v Leinster match. "Perhaps he's just cold," chirped Davies.

THE MRS MAINWARING MEMORIAL AWARD FOR PARENTAL PRIDE: DEBBIE BALE Leave England to their Footballers' Wives - inWales it's the Footballers' Mams who matter. Debbie Bale, mother of Gareth, gave a fantastic insight into her son's achievements as she received the BBCWales Sports Personality Award on his behalf. Revealing he's still a hometown boy at heart, Debbie and her husband shone with pride as they described how they believe Gareth "can only get better". And as his journey into football's stratosphere continues it's obvious that the Bale family values will keep his boots on the ground.

Welsh sport's journey, meanwhile, continues into 2011 - the Rugby World Cup is looming, the Olympic countdown will begin in earnest and, who knows, we might even see Gavin Henson on a rugby field.

DON'T MISS ALL THE LATEST NEWS AND VIEWS IN WELSH SPORT IN MONDAY'S WESTERN MAIL

CAPTION(S):

Although Ryan Giggs' glories were recognised when he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2009, the judges have failed to shortlist a singleWelsh sports person this year - despite Dai Greene's triple athletics triumph
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 11, 2010
Words:1089
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