The Western Region Academy of Sport (WRAS) held its annual presentation evening at Panthers Bathurst on Saturday 29th June 2024. Over 300 guests attended a night that recognised and celebrated the numerous sporting achievements over the past 12 months of the graduating athletes from the 2023/24 WRAS programs.

The WRAS award categories for the presentation evening included; Strength & Conditioning, Coach’s Award, Outstanding Achievement by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, Chairman’s Nominees for Excellence and the Squad Athlete of the Year for each program.

Athletes nominated for the Chairman’s Award would be considered for the 2024 WRAS Chairman’s Award for Excellence. Each sport program’s athlete of the year would be in contention for the most prestigious WRAS award; 2024 WRAS Athlete of the Year.

Ella Penman (High Performance – Athletics) of Dubbo was awarded the 2024 WRAS Athlete of the Year.

Ella had a stellar 12 months which included winning three medals at the Australian All Schools Athletics Championships. She won gold as a member of the U18W NSW 4x400m relay team and won two individual silver medals in the U18W 400m & 800m. At the U20s National Athletics Championships, she ran national qualifying times in the 4x400m relay and individual 400m race winning silver in the relay. Ella’s success has culminated in her selection for the U20 World Athletics Championships as a member of the 4x400m Australian relay team.

Zac Harding (Para-Sports – Athletics) of Dubbo was announced as the 2024 WRAS Athlete of the Year runner-up.

Zac had an incredible 2023/24 athletics season which was highlighted by his selection for the Australian Para-Athletics team which competed at the Oceania Championships. He qualified for Oceania following his strong performances at the U17M Australian Athletics Championships which included gold in the U17M Ambulant javelin and bronze in the U17M Ambulant discus. He was also a constant present on the podium at the NSW Junior Athletics Championships winning six medals including gold in the javelin, three silvers in 200m, discus and long jump plus two bronze medals in the 100m and 400m (all in U17M ambulant category). Zac also broke all Australian Records for his classification (T/F36) in the 100m, 200m, 400m, discus, javelin, long jump and shot put across the season.

The Chairman’s Award for Excellence was presented to Basketball’s, Mia Richardson of Dubbo. Mia has been a significant presence in the Dubbo community umpiring Friday night basketball and volunteering at the junior rugby league canteen. She has also shaved her head twice in the past year which included raising $14,000 for sarcoma research reflecting her ambition to help the community. Mia also balanced a significant sporting and school workload having been selected in the U15 Basketball NSW Shootout and D-League programs whilst scoring well in her studies at St Johns College Dubbo.

Jazzy Gordon and Tully Pickering (both Basketball) were announced as joint winners of the 2024 WRAS Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Award. This award is presented to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander athlete/s within the WRAS sports programs who demonstrated outstanding sporting achievement and success within their sport.

Jazzy Gordon and Tully Pickering had an incredible 12 months both being named in the U16 NSW Country side to compete at the 2024 National Junior Championships in July. Earlier this year the pair also represented U16 NSW Country at the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup. Jazzy was selected in the 2024 U16 NSW CCC basketball team while Tully won a gold medal and was named MVP in the gold medal match of the 2023 U15 NBA Basketball School Australia Abu Dhabi tournament.

The Squad Athletes of the Year (highest achievers in their sport) were:

Athletics: Adelaide Pittis (Bowan Park)

Basketball: Jazzy Gordon & Tully Pickering (Dubbo)

Cycling: Jenna Gallagher (Perthville)

Golf: Rory Elphick (Bathurst)

Hockey: Ellie Parker (Peak Hill)

Netball: Marley Aplin (Orange)

Future Stars: Ella Penman (Dubbo)

Para-Sports: Zac Harding (Dubbo)

Triathlon: Halle Potter (Mudgee)

Ella Penman (Future Stars/High Performance) won the major award – 2024 WRAS Athlete of the Year with Zac Harding (Para-Sports) named as runner-up.

The Chairman’s Nominees for Excellence were:

Athletics: Will Curtin (Bathurst)

Basketball: Mia Richardson (Dubbo)

Golf: Cooper Starkey (Bathurst)

Hockey: Charlotte Ortiger (Bathurst)

Netball: Lucy Wilson (Clifton Grove)

Netball Umpire: Theane Gouws (Dubbo)

The 2024 Chairman’s Award for Excellence was won by Mia Richardson (Dubbo).


Outstanding achievement by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander athlete: Jazzy Gordon & Tully Pickering (Dubbo).

The Coach’s Award recipients (for the most dedicated or improved athlete) were:

Basketball Junior Squad: Lucy Turner (Dubbo)

Basketball Senior Squad: Patrick Frew (Orange)

Basketball Graduate Squad: Riley George (Bathurst)

Cycling: Charlotte Lovett (Bathurst)

Hockey: Morgan Still (Bathurst)

Netball: Grace Simpson (Orange)


The Strength and Conditioning Award recipients (for the most dedicated or improved athlete in S&C sessions) were: Beau Blattman (Bathurst), Rachel Channon (Mudgee), Grace Dunford (Parkes), Mia Medway (Dubbo), Billy Yeo (Orange).