Charlotte Craddock is the perfect example of the type of person School Sport Matters is looking to recognise in its annual award ceremony.
The Repton schoolgirl battled back to fitness after a stress fracture of the lower back to become the youngest British Olympian in hockey, aged 17.
Another equally fitting winner was Josh Lucy, also 17, a qualified fitness instructor, and school partnership 'ambassador' with aspirations to become a PE teacher. He was considered "an outstanding young leader, a role model" at Marriotts School, Hertfordshire, having also competed in events alongside disabled children as a guide and sporting ambassador.
Charlotte and Josh were respectively the School Sport Matters female and male pupil of the year in 2008. Previous winners of the two awards include Beijing Olympians Stephanie Twell (athletics), Alistair Brownlee (triathlon), and Holly Colvin (England women's cricket team).
The teacher of the year was Chris Price, retiring after 36 years of dedication to sport in Norfolk. His passion and commitment ensured Northgate School's reputation for sport was renowned, developing skills and laying the foundations for enjoyment and success for his pupils. Mr Price's ambition for retirement? To be a volunteer at the 2012 Olympics.
Treloar School, Hampshire, at the forefront of the development of disability sport, espousing high levels of participation, was the 2008 winner of Excellence in Disabled Sport. Three recent former pupils, David Smith, Dan Bentley and Danielle Watts, represented Great Britain in boccia at the Beijing Paralympics, where they won the team gold medal.
At the award ceremony at Twickenham in October last year, the presenters, including Olympic 400 metres gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, Beijing kayak gold medallist Tim Brabants and Dame Kelly Holmes, concurred that they were all linked by a common thread: a teacher, coach or parent who, at a young age, had influenced and guided them towards a life in sport.
The hundreds of stories and entries received from schools were again of an exceptionally high level and had required hours of debate from our judging panel.
But our awards are as much about the tales of sacrifice and commitment shown. There was acclaim for specialist sports colleges such as Castle Community College in Dover, which was under 'special measures' and threatened with closure seven years ago.
However, since becoming a sports college three years ago, it now boasts more than 60 clubs and sports fixtures a week, and it has become a beacon in the community.
The 2008 team award went to an exceptional group of girls, from the Holy Cross Catholic School year seven girls' rugby league team. The team, in an area with no rugby league club, had won a multitude of titles, in spite of having formed only at the start of the academic year.
What the awards ceremony demonstrated over and over again was the value of school sport, and that it really does matter.
The Telegraph, 3rd March 2009