Coming second not an option for Ipswich's best
QT-City of Ipswich Senior Sportsperson of the Year Andrew Campbell was heading overseas on an Olympic mission as he was named the city's latest premier achiever.
Campbell, 27, was with Team Australia preparing for a major Olympic qualifying tournament in Korea when he was crowned winner at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre on Friday night.
Before the Ipswich Musketeers, Brisbane Bandits and Australian baseballer joined his national teammates, he spoke about the importance of his Ipswich upbringing.
"It means a lot,'' Campbell said, being on Australian duty having shared in the Bandits' past four national league titles and having won numerous elite individual honours.
"I'm born and bred here. I pride myself on being an Ipswich player.
"Even though I play for the Brisbane Bandits, I never forget that I am an Ipswich boy and I always will be.''
He continues to play for the Ipswich Musketeers at every opportunity.
Campbell said his latest honour had added meaning following in the footsteps of other past Ipswich international achievers.
Friday night's awards function was the 10th annual event backed by the Ipswich City Council.
Previous senior sportstars of the year include Australian rugby league captain Ali Brigginshaw, Olympic and world championship swimming medallist Leah Neale, Commonwealth Games hockey medallist Jordyn Holzberger, world number one tennis player Archie Graham and Olympic speed skater Deanna Lockett.
"To be up there with them would be unreal,'' Campbell said, not yet knowing he was to be awarded the city's top sporting honour.
Home run batting specialist and classy outfielder Campbell has been fiercely loyal to Ipswich, still living in the city while achieving his international goals.
He shared why Ipswich sportspeople are so successful.
"Growing up, you are just brought up to play the game hard,'' he said.
"Coming second isn't really an option when you're from Ipswich. You've got be the best.''
Campbell is part of Team Australia focused on securing a spot at next year's Tokyo Olympics.
The national team has six training games in Japan and two training matches in Taiwan before contesting the tournament in Korea.
Australia is in pool C with the unpredictable Cuba, reigning tournament champions Korea and highly competitive Canada.
"I can't wait really,'' he said, preparing to leave Ipswich after the team's final training session in Australia.
"Everyone is ready to go.''
Campbell thanked his parents Jon and Denise for all their support.
Current Musketeers president Jon and his wife Denise attended Friday night's sports awards dinner along with Andrew's sister Lyndsey.
Andrew's emotional mum accepted the award knowing how much he had dedicated to sport and sacrificed to chase his Olympic dream.
City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson of the Year Jude Thomas is also looking ahead to world-class competition after his incredible year of athletic achievements at all levels.
The record-breaking Karalee runner has won a multitude of races from 5km to Australian Cross Country Championships and over 1500m at the Oceania titles.
He also won a bronze medal at this year's Gold Coast Marathon.
Next year's World Junior titles are on his radar. See separate story on Thomas' achievements and goals.
The latest City of Ipswich Awards showcased the diverse international talent in Ipswich.
Other winners include Australian shooting coach Rob Rush, dedicated athletics volunteer Vic Pascoe and Masters Sportsperson of the Year Steven Graham, a weightlifter who has continued to excel on the international stage.
Rising referee Bayden Sawyers was named Official of the Year and the illustrious NANCI Running Squad were chosen as Team of the Year having a group of proud Ipswich athletes achieving fantastic results on a regular basis.
The Dinmore Bushrats Soccer and Sports Club was voted Organisation of the Year for their efforts revitalising some fine history in the city.
The prestigious awards were backed by Ipswich City Council, Sport Ipswich, QUEST Apartments, Choices Flooring by Mallets, Illustrious Type & Design and the QT.
Rugby league great Shane Webcke was MC for the night with Ipswich City Council interim administrator Greg Chemello handing out awards.
Look out for more stories in coming days on the latest award winners.
2019 City of Ipswich Sports awards winners.
The Queensland Times Senior Sportsperson of the Year: Andrew Campbell (baseball).
City of Ipswich Junior Sportsperson: Jude Thomas (athletics).
Coach of the Year: Robert Rush (rifle shooting).
Official of the Year: Bayden Sawyers (rugby league).
Organisation of the Year: Dinmore Bushrats Soccer and Sports Club.
Volunteer of the Year: Victor Pascoe (athletics).
Team of the Year: NANCI Running Squad.
Masters Sportsperson: Steven Graham (weightlifting).