World's best: Ipswich stars recognised for multiple feats
TWO Ipswich international sport stars have travelled on vastly different paths to World Cup success.
However, highly regarded softballer Joshua Routledge and multi-talented martial artist Blake Murray share a common bond.
They are both proud Ipswich born and bred achievers who are eager to give back to their sports when not accomplishing remarkable individual feats.
Routledge, 18, was crowned the 2020 City of Ipswich Sportsperson of the Year at Friday night's prestigious awards function at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre.
Having made an All-World merit team after being a standout performer at the 2020 Junior World Cup, Routledge was already looking ahead to next year's World Cup in Argentina.
"That's the next goal,'' the Australian Junior Steelers team representative said.
"Just train harder than ever.''
The onset of COVID reduced his representative opportunities in recent months.
However, the Redbank Plains centrefielder hopes to step up training with the Queensland under-23 side in coming weeks having also started an apprenticeship.
"I'm a chippy (carpenter) now so that's keeping me fit taking over from the training,'' he said.
Routledge was named the number one centrefielder in the world for his age after the New Zealand tournament.
He starred for the Australian Junior Steelers that won the silver medal against leading softball nations Japan, the United States, New Zealand, Guatemala, Czech Republic, Denmark, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Argentina.
The former St Augustine's College and Redbank Plains State High was one of Australia's most consistent hitters, backing that up with his powerful defensive game in the outfield.
"It was a pretty tough tournament,'' he said.
"We actually had a pretty good team.
"We were lucky enough to go through with each other for five, six years.''
While other softballers like Springfield Lakes 2004 and 2008 Olympian Tracey Mosley had represented Australia in the past, Routledge was the first homegrown male from the Ipswich Softball Association to achieve that milestone.
He plays for Tigers when not representing his state and country.
Versatile junior Murray underlined his ever-growing skills and maturity by excelling in three international sports.
He is the world's best in his under-18 age group for taekwondo and Haidong Gumdo, a traditional form of sword cutting.
The Queensland, national and Oceania champion achieved both feats in Korea.
After winning his first Haidong Gumdo world title in 2017, the Flinders View teenager was told repeating that against world-acclaimed Koreans was unlikely as he got older.
However, he stepped up his training - up to four hours a day - and rose above that mental obstacle to prove Australians can win against the best.
"It was definitely a harder competition,'' he said of returning to Seoul.
"It was very exciting.''
Murray, 15, also teamed up with supportive father Derek in the family division to finish third.
Murray's diary of taekwondo and Haidong Gumdo competitions is jam-packed with countless wins and placings from regional to national and international levels.
Remarkably during all that, Blake added a second place in judo senior competition at the nationals.
Despite being just 47kg, he used his strength to advantage overpowering an older 95kg opponent.
He was also invited to the Australian Institute of Sport, working with national and Brazilian coaches over two weeks.
The Ipswich martial artist has been identified as an Olympic judo prospect.
"I've been competing at tournaments in taekwondo and Haidong Gumdo for a long time and judo is newer than those two so I'm experiencing the different competitions,'' he said.
"Hopefully in the future, I can make an Olympics in that.''
Asked if the three disciplines complement each other, Murray answered: "Not really''.
"They can all work together I guess,'' he said on reflection, underlining his versatility and commitment to every endeavour.
The Junior Sportsperson of the Year award was Murray's second in Ipswich, having also been recognised in 2017 after winning his first world title.
For Routledge, receiving his first major Ipswich award was a massive thrill after being a regular finalist in the Ipswich City Council-backed excellence program.
"It means a lot,'' he said.
"This is my fourth or fifth year. I've always been in as a junior.''
Routledge had previously made Australian Development teams before rising to his latest World Cup triumph.
"That was my first official Australian team,'' he said.
Routledge said one advantage of the COVID shutdown was spending more time with his family and concentrating on the new job he started a couple of months ago.
The Ipswich softballer has been regularly commended for his sportsmanship on and off the diamond.
He takes great pride in giving back to the sport by coaching and mentoring juniors at Ipswich softball. He also helps with the grounds and canteen.
St Edmund's College student Murray is also eager to help others.
He coaches at two martial arts clubs run by his family, giving back to the Ipswich community through teaching.
He trains before and after school with weights, giving up his weekends to focus on his three disciplines.
"Hopefully I can get to the Olympics in judo and compete at the worlds again in the future,'' Murray said. "And keep passing on my knowledge to other people.''
He once gave a demonstration for Arnold Schwarzenegger at a Sports Festival in Melbourne, conceding that was a rare nerve-racking experience given his trademark calm manner.
Friday night's Ipswich Sports Award function was the 11th annual event, fittingly with a theme: "Will to win, never give in''.
A reduced number of 80 guests attended under a COVID-safe plan instigated by Ipswich City Council.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding praised all the finalists for their fantastic contributions and for their resilience.
The diversity of Ipswich's sporting network was again showcased.
Coach of the year was Stacey Taurima, who guides some of South East Queensland's leading athletes. Taurima was unable to attend the function.
The Agility Dog Club of Queensland was a major awards winner. Club member Catharina Slot was named Volunteer of the Year.
The club based at Tivoli was awarded Sporting Organisation of the Year for its national and international successes.
The Ipswich Flyers netball side was named Team of the Year after winning last year's Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup grand final.
High-achieving basketball referee Jordan Harton was honoured as Official of the Year.
Ipswich's wonderful sporting ambassador Clay Dawson was a popular choice as Masters Sportsperson of the Year for his never-ending athletic feats.
Look out for stories on the other award winners in coming days.
2020 Ipswich Sports Awards winners
Senior Sportsperson of the Year: Joshua Routledge (softball)
Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Blake Murray (taekwondo, Haidong Gumbo, judo)
Team of the Year: Ipswich Flyers (netball)
Coach of the Year: Stacey Taurima (athletics)
Official of the Year: Jordan Harton (basketball)
Masters Sportsperson of the Year: Clay Dawson (long distance running)
Sporting Organisation of the Year: Agility Dog Club of Queensland
Volunteer of the Year: Catharina Slot (dog agility)