Waley-Cohen wins top Maccabi GB award
Sam Waley-Cohen is the Maccabi GB Sportsperson of the Year.
The amateur jockey held off the challenge of a top-class field to win the main prize at MGB’s Sports Awards in Radlett.
Waley-Cohen had a standout year – winning the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He also finished second in the Grand National.
“I’ve had an unbelievable year,” said Waley-Cohen. “It’s a really nice award to win and I feel honoured.
“It’s very touching to be included on the shortlist and to win was very special, a very big surprise. It was the cherry on top of the cake.”
Looking ahead to next year, he said: “I hope to win the King George and Gold Cup again and go one better in the National.
“All being well, the horse will stay around and I will stay in one piece.”
Commenting on the other eight athletes shortlisted, Waley-Cohen said: “It’s great to see so much talent coming through from people making their mark in so many different sports. They are putting so much in to what they love doing.”
Cricketer Daniel Field, the 2010 winner, was runner-up with handball star Daniel Grant coming third.
Power-lifter Shachar Head won the top Junior prize, sponsored by the JC. Head, of Newton Abbott in Devon, took home a cheque for £250.
“I’m speechless,” said Head. “To be here among so many talented people made me feel so proud. It’s brilliant being here, let alone winning.
“Everyone has been so supportive. This is one of the proudest moments of my life – to come to a big city and win an award from the best community ever.”
The 15-year-old holds the world, European and National records in her age and weight categories.
She has personal bests of 125kg (squat), 73kg (bench press) and 150kg deadlift.
Head won her world title only two years into the sport. She said: “You will never know how good you are at something until you try it. Now I’m going to the World Championships.
“I’ve always loved sport and although powerlifting is not a sport at the Maccabiah Games, I hope this can change in the future to help get it recognised
Head will compete at the World Championships in Scotland in November.
She has been shortlisted as an Olympic flagbearer for 2012.
EMG Team GB Open Futsal won the UJIA Team of the Year after impressing in Vienna.
Manager Jonny Cohen said: "I am so proud of this amazing accolade. I am hugely proud of all the team.
"Everyone single person in the team deserves this award. I am really determined that this award marks the start of a golden era in MGB Futsal.
"We are already back playing Futsal and I am delighted that the entire squad are so genuinely excited to continue to pursue this wonderful sport just for the sheer joy of it."
Dalia Nessim was recognised for Outstanding Achievement for her role as physio of the Open Futsal squad.
The event was hosted by Olivia Godfrey and Emma Polland, along with comperes Graham Miller and Rob Nothman.
MACCABI GB SPORTS AWARDS ROLL OF HONOUR
1. Sam Waley-Cohen (Horse racing)
2. Daniel Field (Cricket)
3. Daniel Grant (Handball)
JC JUNIOR SPORTSPERSON
1. Shachar Head (Powerlifting)
2. Elise Lazarus (Squash)
3. Richard Goodman (Athletics)
UJIA TEAM OF THE YEAR
European Maccabi Games Open Futsal
Dalia Nessim (Team GB EMG Open Futsal physio)