Debbie crowned Mansfield Sports Personality of the Year

MANSFIELD'S newly-crowned Sports Personality of the Year, athlete Debbie Robinson, declared herself 'shocked' when MC Andrew James called her name out at the climax to Saturday's gala awards night at the Civic Centre.

The modest former Sutton Harrier, who has recently signed up with top club Tipton Harriers, appeared genuinely surprised by the award, after earlier being named winner of the senior category.

But Mansfield was not alone in recognising the achievements of the 33-year-old distance runner, for a couple of weeks earlier she had also been honoured in the county awards as Amateur Sportsperson of the Year, and has also been named Notts AAA Athlete of the Year.

The highlight of Debbie's year was her sensational Dublin Marathon victory, although she has also represented her country in places as diverse as Holland, Japan and Italy.

Debbie told Chad: "Winning Dublin was the highlight of my year, but this award, being recognised by my local peers, runs that very close."

Debbie has twice bounced back from breaks away from the sport, first through serious illness and then because of family commitments.

In the event, though, it was her daughter, Laura, who tempted her back into the sport and, subsequently, onto the international stage.

Debbie explained: "Laura started running for Sutton Harriers, and running has always been in my blood, so I was easily tempted back.

"I decided to have a go at the London Marathon, and was delighted to be the third British woman."

Debbie paid tribute to the help of her husband Dave, who is also her coach, and admitted that life in the household revolves around athletics.

Now she is looking forward to contesting the Commonwealth Games, although she could instead end up in the European Championships.

Asked to choose, she opted for Manchester, but said that in the end it is down to the selectors.

But she has her sights set on a top 10 placing in the Commonwealth Marathon, and is looking for a time of 2.32 to qualify for the World Championships next year.

That is three minutes 40 seconds faster than her current best time set in Dublin, but she has high hopes that she can achieve qualification.

Laura, meanwhile, is set to follow in Mum's footsteps, and has recently earned her first county vest.