To have three former winners of the Maitland Sportsperson of the Year award competing at the one Olympics is quite remarkable.
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I mean the odds of taking out that particular gong are slim enough at the best of times considering hot competition across the codes, a population of 60,000 plus and Maitland’s strong sporting pedigree.

Even being nominated can depend on the month of the achievement because of the way the award has been established since 1963.

Beyond that you must not only play an Olympic sport, but you must excel at it enough to warrant selection on the national team at the time in the four-year Games’ cycle.

And for all of this to coincide for more than one Maitland athlete at a single Olympiad almost defies logic.

But nevertheless, here we are in London 2012, with a trio of them about to get their campaign under way at the Games.

Brendan Sexton, Simon Orchard and Josh Ross are those who will not only be representing their country at the Olympics, but our city as well.

Sexton (2007), the triathlete, Orchard (2008), the hockey player, and Ross (2005), the sprinter, received Maitland’s highest sporting honour in the aforementioned years.

Sexton was born and bred in the land of 2320, attending school in East Maitland, swimming at the local pool and eventually graduating to Maitland Triathlon Club at the age of 15.

A decade on from that first triathlon and the 26-year-old finds himself in green and gold at his first Olympics.

It was 2007 that he took out the Maitland Sportsperson of the Year award and it came on the back of a silver medal at the under-23 world championships.

He said then that his aim was London – goal achieved.

Orchard also had an eye on London after his Maitland Sportsperson of the Year triumph in 2008.

The 26-year-old had recently broken into the Kookaburras line up and intended to stay in national colours for as long as possible (he now has more than 100 caps).

His parents live in Bolwarra Heights and the former Maitland Ram attended senior school at St Mary’s.

More importantly, despite being raised up the valley in Muswellbrook, the Olympic debutant regards Maitland as home.

Finally, Ross was one of Maitland’s brightest sporting stars for about five years.

Under the guidance of Gillieston Heights mentor Tony Fairweather, the sprinter moved to the area and achieved great success.

A two-time winner of the Stawell Gift, once from scratch, a national sprint champion on a record six occasions and an Olympic representative from 2004.

This helped him secure the title of Maitland Sportsperson of the Year in 2005 and, despite not residing here now, Ross certainly wrote himself into the city’s history books and will add more to the story when running in the 4x100m relay.

Not a bad effort at all from a country NSW town in the Hunter Valley that not many in the English capital would have heard of before.

Good luck to our Maitland champions in London 2012.

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