Doncaster soldier triumphs as ‘Army Sportsman of the Year’
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The awards were presented at a gala dinner event held amidst the grandeur of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst’s Indian Army Memorial Room.
The Sportsman of the Year award presented by Lieutenant General Ian Cave, Commander Home Command recognised his incredible success at national level despite the impact of the pandemic.
Dinghy sailor Simon took the champion titles at the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Sailjuice Winter Sailing series, a treble never achieved in the series history.
A delighted Simon said of his award: “I’m so proud - 21 years in the Army and to receive this in my last six months of service what a fitting completion.
“I’ve been sailing for 30 years and it is thanks to the Army that I got back into the sport.”
The event celebrates the achievements of the British Army’s top performing athletes, team players, coaches and sports staff.
Addressing the audience in the Indian Army Memorial Room, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff said: “Sport is part of the Army’s identity and it’s lifeblood. It develops character and self-discipline and a competitive spirit.
“You might think I’m talking about sport but we’re an Army: what this really is, is fighting spirit.
"And it’s fighting spirit that makes you winners and it’s the same fighting spirit that turns an Army into a Winning Army.”
Simon, who was born in Doncaster, attended Hatfield High School before joining the Army and is now serving in the largest infantry regiment.
His passion for the sport started when he and a school friend decided ‘they wanted to do something new.’
He sailed nationally for England when he was 17 but didn’t again for seven years, until he joined the Army and they gave him a boat.
“The Army Sailing Association have supported me for the last 19 years”, said Simon, “and I’m super proud and super happy to finish as Sportsman of the Year.”
That first attraction has seen him rise to the top of Army sports, as an ambassador for sailing he has raced, instructed, and coached.
He was nominated as Sailor of the Year 2020 in the British Marine Awards alongside Sir Ben Ainsle, and delivers coaching not only to serving personnel and veterans but to local children in Emsworth, Hampshire.
Passionate about coaching he said: “I do as much coaching as I do racing. As a sportsman I think it is important to share that knowledge with others. Of course I want to go out and win but it is equally important to support the people coming through.”
Army sport continues to grow and is proving to be fertile ground for some of the country’s sporting hopefuls.
At grass roots level in Army units, participation is on the increase and the Army continues to find and develop talent. Selection for national level representation is partly through the excellent relationships with sport’s National Governing Bodies, UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.