BEN HAINES toasted his 2013 young sportsman of the year award and joked: I wasn’t going to miss the ceremony this time round!
The taekwondo talent was unable to collect his runner-up gong in the same category at The News’ 2012 awards night after his car broke down en-route to the event.
But having been shortlisted again, the Great Britain Academy ace ensured he was among the first to arrive at the Victory Suite, Fratton Park, last Thursday.
And his early presence bore fruit as he deservedly received top honours.
Haines said: ‘At the last sports awards night I was running late from a competition after we broke down on the motorway.
‘I ran in late and was told I had received the runner-up award.
‘So I made sure I was on time this year!
‘And winning this award feels amazing.
‘Being runner-up last year meant a lot to me but to win this award this year is a special achievement.’
Last year saw Haines move a step closer to fulfilling his dream of appearing in the Rio 2016 Olympics, after securing a full-time place in the GB Taekwondo Academy.
The move means the 20-year-old, from Horndean is now permanently based in Manchester – linking up with coach Gareth Brown.
Haines added: ‘To get asked to go up to the academy full-time was an amazing opportunity.
‘It’s all working towards the Rio Olympics.’
Xcel gymnast Callum Archer received the runner-up award.
The nine-year old won 2013 team and individual gold on the national stage.