Wed, Dec 29, 2021 6:54 AM

Year in sport: Marist claim hat-trick, Sparks return.

Marist celebrates its nail-biting 20-18 win over Kahurangi in the Tasman Trophy final at Trafalgar Park in July. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport

Jonty Dine

Another year disrupted by a global pandemic however there was still plenty of sport played in 2021. Sports Reporter Jonty Dine looks back at some of the season highlights.

Marist complete three peat.
Down by one with five minutes remaining and sporting a broken nose, Sam Briggs stepped up to attempt the winning points in the Tasman Trophy final on July 3. Sam was just four days out from surgery after the break occurred in the semifinal against Waimea Old Boys. However, there was no thought of sitting out the big dance as he looked to send his father into retirement on an historic note. Sam weathered his storm of nerves and a rapturous crowd to nonchalantly slot the penalty and put his side ahead 20-18. Kahurangi had one last chance to steal it at the death, but Sam produced another match winning play to strip possession and end coach Gavin Brigg's storied career with a hat-trick of titles. The win was Marist's second consecutive Tasman Trophy crown after defeating Waimea Old Boys in 2019 and its third consecutive title after winning the sub-union competition in 2020.

Zoe hangs up her oar.
Lightweight women's double world champion Zoe McBride made her shock retirement from rowing just months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The 25-year-old Nelsonian was set to compete at the games as one of New Zealand's favourites for a gold medal after claiming the world title along with double sculls teammate Jackie Kiddle in 2019. However, Zoe has revealed she began contemplating her career after suffering a stress fracture to her leg last year. Months of rehab took a toll on both her mental health before the challenges of getting back down below 59 kilograms to meet the minimum lightweight criteria saw her develop an eating disorder and an erratic menstrual cycle. Zoe says health has been a massive priority since and remains based in Cambridge to pursue her career in marketing with a focus on women's health.

Couples’ speedway success.
The Hill household may need to invest in a second trophy cabinet with Alicia and Alex sharing the Top of the South Speedway Sportsperson of the Year award among a number of other accolades in 2021. The husband and wife enjoyed a superb season on the track which was rewarded with a slew of silverware at 2021’s prizegiving. Alex also claimed the Super Stock Competitor of the Year while Alicia picked up the Sprint Car Competitor of the Year Award, and the overall Competitor of the Year.

The Sparks are back
The future of female basketball in Nelson is looking bright with the Sparks returning to the national scene in 2021. The Sparks were granted a two-year license to participate in the NBL’s 3x3 Schick Cup, effective for the 2021 and 2022 editions of the competition. The Sparks haven’t played a part in top tier NBL competition since 2016, just four years after hoisting aloft the championship trophy of the then-named WBC in 2012.The Giants, with support from the Nelson Basketball Association, made it a priority to get the Sparks brand back into national competition in 2021.

Hannah Crabtree is one of the rising stars of female basketball in Nelson. Photo: Jonty Dine
Hannah Crabtree is one of the rising stars of female basketball in Nelson. Photo: Jonty Dine