Evening Post Pride Awards 2013: Swansea swimming coach Billy Pye honoured for Paralympics success
DISABILITY swimming coach Billy Pye has been honoured for his tremendous sporting success at consecutive Paralympics.
Mr Pye, who has won a haul of medals through his stable of stars including his protege Ellie Simmonds, was awarded a special Editor's Choice prize at the Post's Pride Awards in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, last night.
He was unable to be there himself to collect the award as he is currently away training at the British International Championships in Leeds, but his 40-year-old wife Rhian, a librarian at Cefn Saeson School, was there to represent him.
Mr Pye, 54, of Bryncoch, Neath, also sent a message which was played to the audience last night.
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Since taking over as head of disability performance of British Swimming's High Performance Centre in Swansea, during April 2003, he has scored medal success through his stable of stars at consecutive Paralympics.
In its first year at the Athens Paralympics its swimmers scored 11 medals — 33 per cent of the medal tally of the GB swim team.
The Beijing Paralympics saw disabled swimmers being trained in the city emulate their success in Athens — where they won between 11 and 12 medals.
Swimming sensation Ellie Simmonds became a talking point of those Games after clinching two golds, aged just 13 — the youngest member of the team.
Again, London 2012 was a triumph for Mr Pye.
His team won between 30 and 31 per cent of the GB swimmers' medal total.
Mr Pye is already planning for the Rio games. He said: "The key to success is identifying talent first and foremost.
"The success we have had was driven by me but you have to have those individuals who have this tremendous urge to win because you can't coach that."
Mr Pye added that his world- class thinking was due to his upbringing in the Blaengwynfi Valley.
He said: "Our philosophy in Swansea is that coming second is not an option.
Evening Post editor Jonathan Roberts, who decided to award the special prize to Mr Pye, added: "The name Billy Pye has become synonymous with one word — success. Billy trains winners, and I'm sure it's their winning smiles that give him the most satisfaction.
"But this success doesn't just happen, it takes hard work and determination — from the athletes and their coach.
"Billy's extremely proud of his swimmers, and they're equally proud of him, which is why he's such an excellent choice for the Editor's award."
See our slideshow of last night's Pride Awards below:
Here are the Pride Award winners:
Teacher/mentor of the year
Winner: Lyn Mackay
Runners-up: Katie Hall; Terry Michael
Grassroots sports coach of the year
Winner: David Huxtable
Runners-up: Mike Podbielski; Wendy Thomas
Charity champion of the year
Winner: Melanie Davies
Runners-up: Robert Clarke; Betty Ann Jones
Ambassador of the year
Winner: Alex Frith
Runners-up: Stan Stennett; Ed Thomas
Winner: Dorian Williams
Runners-up: Rhian Bowen Davies; Gillian Handscomb
Winner: Caroline Ashwood
Runners-up: Emily Brookman; Ainsley Richards
Winner: Lucy Sullivan
Runners-up: Craig Kiley; Anthony Lovell, Michael Spong, David Williams
Carer of the year
Winner: Pat and Stuart Gates
Runners-up: Andrew Dyer; Emma Lewis
Child of Courage
All winners: Danielle Cole; Jack Morris; Daisy Mae Thornton
Winner: Raie Copp
Runners-up: Percy Gilbert; John Thomas