Sam Potts’ Sports Awards high was well timed after his recent British Championships disappointment.
The Locks Heath judo ace took home the young sportsman of the year accolade – seeing off runner-up Ben Haines for the honour.
It came as a welcome boost for the 20-year-old after he was forced to miss out on a potential medal at this year’s national senior championships because of injury.
A shoulder problem he picked up in training forced him to withdraw from the event and denied Potts the chance to add to his British junior success of 2012.
But with the former Gosport Judo Club member now back in training ahead of next month’s English Open, his preparations were helped by a ‘surprise’ from The News’ loyal readers.
‘I’m really happy I won,’ said Potts. ‘I didn’t know I was up for an award until quite close to the night.
‘I only knew after getting a text message from a friend, which came as quite as a surprise.
‘It’s been a good year for me but there’s always room for improvement.
‘I won my first British Championship title and remained unbeaten in my category for the whole of 2012.
‘I’ve also been competing in senior national events and have medalled in almost every one I’ve competed in.
‘My only disappointment, however, was that I couldn’t compete in the British Senior Championships in January.
‘I had been training full-time for about six or seven weeks leading up to it.
‘I put a lot of hard work into my preparations and was gutted when I was told I couldn’t compete because of my shoulder.’
Potts added: ‘I hope to be back for the English Open in March when I’ll be competing in the under-21 and senior event like I did last year.
‘Back then I won gold in the under-21 event and bronze in the senior competition. That’s the aim this year, too, if not better.’
– MARK McMAHON