THE Manor Gatehouse in Priory Road was the venue last week for the annual Dartford Borough Sports Awards presentation night.

The event acknowledges the achievements of those young local sportsmen and women, under the age of 21 who excelled in their particular sport during the previous 12 months.

There were six individual category winners, plus best team and, for the first time, a top coach award.

Councillor Rosie Bryant, who judged with Coun. Baker, said: "We had a tremendous response with more applicants from a wider range of sports than ever before. We had an extremely difficult task in deciding the overall winners."

Below, the News Shopper pays its own tribute to those who won, as well as congratulating all those who did not but helped to raise the profile of their chosen sport throughout the borough.

Under-13 Sportswoman of the year

Annalisa Wrubel

At the age of four, Annalisa was so mesmerised by gymnasts competing in the Olympics that she danced around her home copying their movements and sat in the split position to watch the TV. Her mother spotted her potential and she was soon training with the Meapa Gymnastic Club in Gravesend. At the age of just nine, Annalisa is a Kent team champion and South-east Regional champion for her age, and was fifth in the National finals. She now trains for up to 22 house a week with the British under-12 squad.

Under-13 Sportsman of the year

Alex Aldham-Breary

Eleven-year-old Alex excels in road and track cycling. He was joint winner of the under-12s Ray Martin

Winter track series and 9th in the British Cycling Federations' National Youth Road-race Championship. His aim this year is to achieve a top-five finish in the National road-race and develop his track skills. Eddie Land, his coach, feels that Alex has the determinaton and ablity to succeed despite his heavy academic work-load.

Under-16 Sportswoman of the year

Jade Hicksman

A family trip to an ice rink when Jade was only three was the catalyst for her ice skating success. A member of Gillingham's Ice Dance and Figure Skating Club, Jade's dedication and hard work over the last six years has been rewarded with 47 medals during the last two years. Last season she was second in the Chelmsford pairs and won two Kent Open titles. She is currently waiting to trial for the right to compete in the British Championships.

Under-16 Sportsman of the year

John Dorian

Is National age-group champion for the pentathlon, tetrathlon and runner-up in triathlon, and last year was selected for the Great Britain squad. Pentathlon involves five disciplines: running, shooting, fencing, showjumping and swimming and his training includes swimming when most of us are still in bed, running three times a week and, rather disconcertingly, practising his shooting in the hallway fo his parents' home!

Under-21 Sportswoman of the year

Charmaine Brown

Has enjoyed swimming success at county and national level. Manages to juggle her studies at Dartford Grammar with strict training schedules. At the Kent Championships, Charmaine won the 200-metre breaststroke open and junior titles, as well coming third in the 100m breastroke open, not to mention three top-seven placings in national-ranked galas.

Under-21 Sportsman of the year

Keith Atkinson

Only six when he started windsurfing, Keith is the current South-east champion and last year took part in top-ranking events including UK, European and World Youth Champion-ships. Keith's aim for 2002 is to achieve a top-10 placing in the Windsurfing Association's Gold Fleet and compete in in the World title. Adrian Jones, his coach, said Keith has made rapid progress and is regarded as one of the UK's most talented sailors with very high propsects of achieving future honours at the highest level.

Sports team of the year

Southfleet Colts' Cricket Club

A first-class example of a club which invests in coaching and values its volunteers, who are committed to providing cricket for youngsters in the borough. The colts,

despite the loss of its clubhouse caused by arsonsists, is determined to thrive and has tripled its membership in the last three years. Now operating from two donated temporary cabins, the club maintains its strong links with Axton Chase school, as well as assisting in Kwik-cricket tournaments and have-a-go' sesions at the Dartford festival. Alf Durham collected the award.

Sports Coach of the year

Alan Roberts

Founded Dartford Judokwai Club in 1965 which, through his efforts, is now a centre of excellence one of only six in the country. He is regarded as a world-class performance coach by the national body and holds the highest-level coaching badge. Alan has also been recruited to the selection panel for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Despite having coached competitors at the highest level. He is committed to the sport at grass-roots in Dartford paticularly and his inspirational work in the local community reveals the dedication of someone at the top of their chosen sport.