Rhys Turnbull-Bester is hoping that his ability to bounce back will act as an inspiration to other budding young athletes, writes Liam Apicella.
The start of 2016 was tough for the 16-year-old, who suffered with an illness that prevented him from training and competing.
But he refused to be shackled and after making a recovery, Turnbull-Bester blew the competition away to win national titles in the 200 metre, 400m and long jump for competitors with intellectual disabilities.
Those results were recognised last week in the form of two Forest Heath Sports Awards — the Samurai Sports Triumph Over Adversity and Suffolk Sport Young Personality of the Year.
And having seen sport change his life, the Red Lodge resident is eager to see others follow in his footsteps.
“It is amazing. I did not expect to win one award, let alone two,” he said.
“It took me half a year to get back after illness, but I believe if you put the hard work in then rewards will come.
“Hopefully I am setting an example to other people like me.
“I never used to have any friends, but now because of sport I am much more confident and social.”
While it is Turnbull-Bester that goes out to break the records and win medals, he is also keen to credit those who put in the hard work behind the scenes.
These include coaches Ron Wallwork and Mick Graham, who scooped The Newmarket Racecourses Community Volunteer and The Newprint Lifetime Achievement gongs respectively at the same event.
“The two awards are as much for the people that help me as they are for me,” he added.
“My coaches give up so much time and without my family I would not be able to get anywhere.
“They put in all the hard work, I just go out and perform on the track.”
The other award winners on the night at Newmarket Leisure Centre were: Breckland Netball Club (Rocket Club of the Year), Godolphin (Newmarket Journal Most Active Workplace), Exning Primary School (Verse School of the Year), Kevin Hancock (Unison Unsung Hero), Callum Wilkinson (Matrix Individual Performance), Annette Skeet (Newmarket Motor Company Coach of the Year) and Paul Holley (Greene King Sports Personality of the Year).