By VINCE RUGARI
SEAN Pianca's star continues to rise, with the junior archery prodigy recognised as Griffith's best sportsperson for the second consecutive year.
The 16-year-old was named the city's Overall Sportsperson of the Year yesterday at the council's Australia Day awards ceremony, capping off an extraordinary year that saw him become one of the top 10 best archers in the world for his age after storming the World Junior Archery titles in China.
Like last year, Pianca captured both the overall award and the Junior Sportsperson of the Year gong after a 2013 that - with any luck - will be remembered as the start of a long and successful international career in archery.
"I feel very honoured and very, very happy that I was able to receive the award again - that made it twice as special," he told The Area News.
"I definitely wasn't expecting it, but when I got it... I don't have words to describe the way I was feeling. It was very, very good.
"It's good just to be recognised, especially since archery isn't the most well-spoken of sport.
"To be recognised by the community and given an award as prestigious as this just makes me feel honoured, that Griffith recognises me and my sport."
But Pianca refuses to rest on his laurels.
He said his top 10 ranking has not satisfied him - if anything, it's just made him hungrier to go one better next time.
"When I first finished and got back (from China) I was quite disappointed," he admitted.
"But after a while I realised a top 10 finish and to have lost to the person that won it all just made me more eager and keen to do even better this year and the year after."
This year, his only likely trip overseas will be to Croatia in August for the World Field Archery Championships in Zagreb - a different competition altogether to the target-based tournament in China, but one he's ready to take on.
"In field archery you walk around the bush and there's 24 targets. One day they're marked with what the distance is, the other day they're not marked and you have to guess," he said.
"It's a fair bit more difficult but it's quote good to shoot."
Pianca said he could not have made it this far without the support of his parents, his coaches Steve Salmon and Steve Jennison, Matt Moon from Base Fitness, BCE Targets' Brian Hugo, Lyndon May of Brisbane Archery Supplies and Paul Savage from GB's.
Meanwhile, Lisa Hodder - who became Australian middleweight Kyokushin karate champion in August after defeating former world champion Shannyn Ward - was crowned Griffith's Senior Sportsperson of the Year.
Griffith City Sports Council president Lou Testoni said: "I thought it was such a close field, that one, but she was a very deserving winner."
The GDFA under 13s football side that won the Football NSW State Cup, continuing a three-year undefeated streak, was named the Team of the Year.
Veteran cricket coach Ken Cunningham was rewarded for his decades of service to the game in Griffith with the Clubperson of the Year award, with the GDCA's Jeff McKenna accepting on his behalf.