Calvert, Rice take top State Games honors
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Aug. 20, 2002
Both youth and senior wisdom were well served with the honoring of the State Games of Mississippi's Sportsman of the Year ceremonies.
William Calvert, a 66-year-old retired law enforcement officer from Gulfport, and 14-year-old Lydia Rice of Tupelo were selected as the Bell South/Cingular Wireless Sportsmen of the Year.
The awards were based on an effort to recognize Mississippi's amateur athletes. A total of 17 nominees were received from coaches, athletes, volunteers and fans.
The award criteria was based on an athlete's achievements, sportsmanship, participation and attitude displayed during the State Games of Mississippi.
Both Calvert and Rice were surprised to be honored by their fellow participants.
Calvert participated in four different sports during the 2002 Games. This was his third State Games.
Calvert won gold medals in the two-mile walk, Summer Biathlon, 500-meter and 2-mile sprints in canoe/kayak and the 100-meter dash in track and field. He also took home two silvers in the 400 and 200 meter dashes.
In 2001, Calvert won golds in Summer Biathlon and the two-mile road race. He also won a gold in Summer Biathlon in 2000.
Calvert's being able to compete at all is an amazing tale. He survived cancer after 40 treatments of radiation following surgery. The inspiration to become a part of the State Games came from his desire to improve his health and live a longer, fuller life.
Rice made her mark at the 2002 State Games by earning four medals, three golds and one silver in track and field. She set a new State Games age group record for the 13-14-year-old girls by clearing 4-feet-9 in the high jump.
Rice also won the 100 meter hurdles in 18.5 seconds and was a leg on Tupelo's 4×100 relay team. She took a silver medal in the 400 meters.
Rice is a ninth grade student at Tupelo High School. She is one of Tupelo High's rising young athletes participating in both soccer and cross country.
Last fall, Rice finished 9th overall in the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Class 5A State cross country meet in Clinton. She was the Golden Waves' third runner within the top 10 and that helped Tupelo win the 5A team title.
Rice is a member of Tupelo's 88 Select Soccer team. She also plays defender for the Mississippi Olympic Development soccer team.
As the Female and Male Bell South/Cingular Wireless Sportsman of the Year, Rice and Calvert will have the honor of being the official torch runners in the 2003 State Games of Mississippi's opening ceremonies at Ray Stadium here in Meridian.
The pair will also represent the State Games of Mississippi as nominees for the National Athlete of the Year Award. The national awards will be presented in October in San Diego.