PAUL Jennings wants to conquer the world – but today he is happy to be the sporting king of Hartlepool.
The darts star collected the Hartlepool Sports Personality of the Year last night at the ceremony at Seaton Carew Sports & Social Club.
Proud Headlander Jenno follows in the footsteps of local heroes such as Jemma Lowe, Savannah Marshall, Amanda Coulson, Michael Hunter, Andrew Taylor and fellow darts ace Tony Eccles in winning the award.
“It was a nice surprise,” said the 36-year-old Polish Open champion.
“It’s great to be appreciated by your home town and I feel thrilled that the Hartlepool Sports Council picked me.
“There are a lot of famous town people on the trophy already like Savannah Marshall, Jemma Lowe and Michael Hunter, so to join them is special.”
Victory in Poland in March was Jenno’s first tournament success for over a year.
But it was his form at the 2013 BDO Lakeside World Championship which saw him hit the headlines.
The Engineers Social Club thrower reached the quarter-finals at Frimley Green for the second successive year and is now aiming to go “all the way” and win it.
“It’s the one I’ve always wanted since I started playing darts,” he told SportMail.
“I’ve enjoyed playing on the big stage and would love to go back and show what I can do.
“There have been glimpses this year, I had some big scores and great finishing.
“But it’s about putting it together for the whole week.
“I know the other 31 players want it just like me, but I think I am capable of going all the way and winning it.”
Jennings is on course to qualify for the 2014 event and collected more ranking points at the weekend at Prestatyn where he reached the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open.
Les Smith was rewarded for four decades of uninterrupted hard graft for West Hartlepool rugby club by winning the prestigious Services to Sport Award.
A West lower-team player in the 1960s, the former school teacher joined the committee in the 70s as they embarked on their bid to reach the top of the English game.
The 67-year-old spent a long stint as fixture secretary and became a key member of their board as the club went from the Third to First Divisions and enjoyed three stays in the top flight.
But some of his hardest work came after the collapse of West following their relegation from the Premiership in 1999.
Smith and his management board colleagues were able to save West and oversaw the club’s move to Brinkburn, their home since 2000. Les is currently their chairman of rugby.
The Outstanding Club Performance went to Hartlepool Badminton Club.
The word outstanding barely describes their achievements.
Based at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, the 10-year-old club which boasts 63 members, saw four of their five sides win promotion in their divisions in the Tees Active League.
Former England champion and the club’s driving force, Tony Evans, collected the trophy last night.
Hartlepool Badminton Club has talent throughout their ranks, Matthew Henry, Philip Grylls and Peter Vaughan representing the county senior team and Zoe Beamson the junior side.
Fellow juniors Dominic Barlow, Phoebe Caffrey and Emma Shears also enjoyed success this season.
The winners of the Outstanding Team Performance did not have to travel far to receive their award.
Seaton Carew Cricket Club’s all-conquering U15 side are based at Hornby Park, which hosted last night’s ceremony.
The Elizabeth Way teenage talents were undefeated in 2012, winning the North Yorkshire Area Cricket Council league title as well as lifting the Bill Chester Cup.
They were skippered by Paul Braithwaite, who is already a star for Seaton First XI in the NYSD Division One, and managed by Mick Johnson.
Their Outstanding Team Performance prize was reward for Seaton’s dedication and hard work in their youth structure, which is bringing players through into the senior sides.