EDDIE Pepperell, Kirsty Miller and Cara Gainer will fly the flag in the 2017 Oxfordshire Sports Awards, writes Mark Edwards.

Abingdon golfer Pepperell recorded seven top-ten finishes in eight European Tour events to secure his place in the sportsman of the year category for the first time.

But he faces stiff competition from Luke Southwood, a goalkeeper in the England Under 20 squad that won football’s World Cup and rugby league star Josh Griffin, who helped Hull FC beat Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

The sportswoman of the year accolade also looks like being close-run.

Oxford City athlete Gemma Bridge became national race walking champion and represented Great Britain in the World Championships.

Taekwon-do star Miller, from Didcot, captained England in the European Championships, winning four medals, before claiming individual silver in the World Championships in North Korea.

The shortlist is completed by Harwell golfer Gainer, who won the English Women’s Amateur Matchplay Championship, as well as the Oxfordshire County title.

Abingdon Gymnastics, shortlisted but not successful 12 months ago in the club of the year category, bid to go one better this time around.

But Radley Athletics Club will provide tough opposition, with Banbury Blues Netball Club also in the running.

The junior categories are, as ever, fiercely contested.

The sportsman of the year shortlist is made up of Harwell tumbler Ben Goodall, badminton player Ethan Rose and cycle speedway rider William Jeffrey, all the teenagers having represented their country.

The same is true of the trio in the junior sportswoman – King Alfred’s Academy pupil Elizabeth Ireland (nordic skiing), Rowena Hearn (hockey), who hails from Ipsden, near Wallingford and Enya Dale (canoeing).

The winners will be announced at an awards night, held at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium on Friday, January 19.

Tickets, priced at £42.95 for adults and £29.95 for juniors, are on sale from oxspa.co.uk/osa.