SWIM star Emma Russell has plans to make greater waves in the pool after making a splash at West Fife’s sporting ‘Oscars’.

The 16-year-old Woodmill High School pupil was recognised for an outstanding 2019 by being named the Dunfermline Press Sports Personality of the Year at Dunfermline and West Fife Sports Council’s annual awards.

A member of the Edinburgh-based Heart of Midlothian Swimming Club, Emma was one of three nominees for the prize, alongside Pitreavie AAC’s 400 metres runner, Billy Doyle, and champion superbike star Greg Gilfillan.

But, after a 12 months that saw her win 50 metres and 100m freestyle at the British Summer Championships, a silver medal at the European Junior Championships with Great Britain’s 4x200m freestyle relay team, and set a new female junior British 50m freestyle record, S5 pupil Emma was chosen as the winner.

“I’m really excited because I wasn’t expecting it,” she said.

“I was really happy to be in the shortlist for it but, to actually win the award, is really exciting. It’s quite good because I’ve worked really hard this last season, and I think it’s nice to get an award for the hard work paying off.

“Hopefully, this year’s even better, but I’ll just keep working hard and see how it goes.”

There were five nominees in contention for the Young Sports Personality of the Year, sponsored by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, and it was karate king Ben Woods who kicked his way to the top.

Ben, also a pupil at Woodmill, was chosen ahead of Molly McHale (gymnastics), Ellie Goldwyre (cheerleading), Lewis Mackintosh (tennis) and Callum Newton (athletics) after becoming the first Scot ever to become world number one.

He reached the top of the World Karate Federation (WKF) cadet (for 14-15-year-olds) rankings in the kumite -63kg category but is now set to move up to compete at junior level this year.

“I was totally amazed. I’ve never had any kind of recognition before on that scale,” he said of his prize.

“I was up against a few other people so, when I heard my name, it was brilliant.

“It has been the biggest and best year of my life, and this tops it off nicely. When I go back, I’ll be competing against people who are 16-17-years-old, so I’ve got to work hard to try and get back to that level.

“It’s a challenge that excites me.”

Dunfermline Reign’s senior men were rewarded for claiming an historic first Scottish Basketball Championship title in the club’s history by being named the Benny Hutton Team of the Year, and player Jake Sirrell commented: “It’s something that our club has never done before and it stands out as a standard that we want our younger guys to get to.

“We’re really trying to teach them the right way to play basketball and, hopefully, they’ll keep working up and get to here as well.”

Dunfermline Track and Field Club’s under-13 relay squad, ahead of Robertson Dance Academy’s minis, who showed off their talents with an on-stage performance, and Aberdour Shinty Club’s Primary 6/7 team, collected the Junior Team of the Year award.

Their achievements included winning 4x200m gold at the Scottish Athletics Indoor Relay Championships, breaking the club record for that event twice, and the club 4x100m best three times, and squad member Sophie Thomas said: “We weren’t expecting it. We were competing more for fun and medals but we never expected we’d break some records so it’s been good fun.”

Dunfermline Track and Field Club were celebrating once more when Victoria Stephen was feted as Coach of the Year, on the back of athletes such as Ellen Ranklin – who was named Schools Ambassador of the Year – Mya McMahon and Callum Newton collecting national titles.

“I’m absolutely delighted, first of all to be nominated,” she said.

“You give up your time because you want to do it for the kids, but for the club to recognise what you’re doing and to have that pride, is a nice feeling.”

Of her award, Lochgelly High pupil Ellen – recognised for her efforts to encourage greater sports participation in school, particularly in netball – commented: “I’m really pleased.

“I love sport, so to have other people taking part and doing that is amazing. I can’t ask for more to be fair.”

Ian Jones, who is also involved with Dunfermline Track and Field Athletics Club, and Stuart Rowa Dewar, of Dunfermline Boxing Club, were both recognised in the Services to Sport category.

Stuart, who runs the boxing club alongside Dany Coll, said: “It’s the usual cliché, and I’m delighted to be recognised for all the effort put into the club, but you’ve got to say it’s not just individual; it’s a team that puts on the classes week-in, week-out, so I think it’s for the club rather than for myself.

“Without the members, you don’t have a club, do you?”

Athletics club coach Ian added: “I went down with my grand-daughter, who’s 22-years-old now, when she was eight and introduced her to athletics, so that’s as long as I’ve been there!

“I went there as a helper and ended up as a coach!

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m absolutely delighted I’ve got the award but the award is actually for the children, not me.”

The East Kilbride Sports Council Disability Award was awarded to athlete Owen Miller, who couldn’t attend on the evening, while Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry were winners of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust large and small primary school awards respectively.

Lee Waugh, acting headteacher at North Queensferry, said: “We’re thrilled.

“That’s the second year that we’ve won it, and it’s a nice thing to have. The children are absolutely delighted and really proud of their achievement.”

The prizes weren’t done there, however, as the committee made one final presentation – and it was to the Press.

We were recipients of the Scottish Clubsport Service to Sport Award, which is “presented by Clubsport networks and sports councils in recognition of the dedication shown by local volunteers to community and grassroots sport”, with the sports council praising our varied and in-depth coverage.