Thompson grateful for award confidence booster
THE winner of last year's Torbay Sports Personality of the Year Award has said the honour helped give him the confidence to success on the national and international stage.
Jay Thompson, from Paignton, was surprise winner of last year's overall accolade having also picked up Junior Sports Personality of the Year.
Today marks the formal launch of this year's awards, which promise to be the biggest and best in their history.
The event is being jointly co-ordinated by Torbay Council and the Herald Express, culminating in a gala awards ceremony on November 29.
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Since winning last year's award, Thompson has won double gold at the junior section of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Montpellier, and four golds in a six-medal haul at the British Artistic Gymnastics championships. Thompson played a part at London 2012, as he was picked to perform in front of the Olympic crowds to demonstrate his skills on the pommel horse.
He is tipped to win a place at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and said last year's award helped him along the way.
"It had a great effect on me, both my confidence and realising that people were starting to get to know me," said Thompson.
"Before I felt odd, it's difficult to describe but it's like there wasn't any recognition.
"It was a very big surprise because I thought that with the overall sports personality award, it was going to be tough as there were a lot of people and groups who had done well. I was over the moon just getting the youth one really."
This year's event boasts 10 categories, including a one-off award for contribution to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
At the other end of the spectrum there are categories for Young Volunteer of the Year and an Outstanding Contribution Award. Thompson said such awards are vital in helping nurture grassroots talent which ultimately feeds into the success of the national team.
He said: "People start hearing your name and saying 'oh, I know that guy, he's really good'.
"It also makes getting sponsorship a bit easier – sponsorship is still tricky but you get asked to do stuff for companies and it just builds up."
Already part of the Lloyds TSB 'local heroes' scheme, Thompson has also sice been supported by firms including Mars and Wilkinsons. He added: "Anything you get is incredibly helpful and all helps to get you there at the end of the day."
For more, go to www.torbaysportsawards.co.uk