FOR just the second time in a history that stretches back to 1960, a golfer has been named the Manning River Times (Ken McDonald Memorial) Sportstar of the Year.
Quedesha Golledge was the unanimous choice of the judging panel chaired by Hugh McCrindle OAM. She is the 59th winner of the award. In 2019 Quedesha won the Australian 13-14 years girl's golf championship played at Royal Pines.
Quedesha, motor cyclist Hayden Nelson and hockey's Priya Bourke were the three finalists, chosen from the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the week winners from 2019. The presentation was made during the Taree Australia Day celebrations held in Queen Elizabeth Park, where all three finalists were in attendance.
"All three had strong claims,'' Mr McCrindle said.
"But Quedesha's performance was outstanding.''
Played over three days, Quedesha started the Australian championship with a 78 to take a six shot lead. However, she crashed the second day when firing a 91.
She then returned a 78 on the third day to give her a three shot victory with an overall total of 247.
Quedesha hadn't played Royal Pines previously, other than a practice round before the championship.
"The fact that she fought back after a poor second round makes this even more exceptional,'' Mr McCrindle noted.
"I'd say she found the water a lot in her second round.''
A former president of Taree Golf Club, Mr McCrindle is familiar with the Royal Pines layout.
Wingham's Reid Brown in 2016 was the first golfer to win the sportstar of the year award.
However, Mr McCrindle said Priya and Hayden can be well satisfied with their performances in 2019.
Hayden won the Australian Supermoto championship in the junior lite class.
The supermoto was contested over three rounds at Port Macquarie, South Australia and Proserpine. Supermoto is a combination of road racing, dirt track racing and motocross.
Hayden led the event after the opening two rounds. He finished second on the pointscore in the third round and this was enough to give him the overall championship.
Priya has just returned from a tour of Borneo with the Australian Country women's under 21 hockey team. She was selected after the Australian Country Championships played at Shepparton, where Priya, 18, was a member of the open women's side.
Earlier in the year Priya was a member of the NSW Blues side that made the final of the Australian under 18 championship in Hobart.
The sportstar of the year award now moves into its 60th year.