Lydia Ko wins top Halberg award

Lydia Ko has been named New Zealand's top sportsperson. Photo / Getty Images
Lydia Ko has been named New Zealand's top sportsperson. Photo / Getty Images

Teenage golf prodigy Lydia Ko has taken out the supreme honours at the 51st Halberg Awards at Vector Arena.

The women's world no 4, who turned professional late last year, won the sportswoman of the year category - ending shotput queen Valerie Adams' seven-year reign - before heading off IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, paralympic swimmer Sophie Pascoe and the All Blacks to claim the overall supreme award.

Ko, who won three tournaments in 2013 including defending her Canadian Open title, received the news of her success during a live video link from the awards ceremony to Melbourne where she is playing in the Women's Australian Open.

Ko yesterday made a strong start to the tournament, and was two shots off the lead at the close of play on the opening day.

To take the sportswoman of the year, Ko edged out three-time Halberg Award winner Adams, world champion kayaker Lisa Carrington and swimmer Lauren Boyle.

It was also a big night for the All Blacks who capped off an unbeaten 2013 season by winning the Team of the Year, with coach Steve Hansen taking out the coach of the year prize and captain Richie McCaw receiving the Sport New Zealand leadership award.

McCaw said receiving the award had "blew him away".

He said his leadership style has changed a lot over the years.

"The thing is you become more comfortable in the role. You realise you don't have all the answers."

He said to be a good leader you had to have a good team.

"I've been lucky. "

Hansen refused to take too much credit and thanked his All Blacks players and staff after he won the Coach of the Year gong tonight.

It was humbling to win, he said.

"The head coach is only as good as his players.''

On his own coaching philosophy, Hansen said the key was to keep pushing for improvement.

"The key to high performance sport is to make sure you don't stop, because when you do, someone runs over you.''

The Team of the Year award was the "best" award to win according to Hansen.

Hansen said the All Blacks were consistently better than other teams largely thanks to the players' New Zealand upbringing.

"One of the things is where we come from. Kids grow up climbing tress and playing outside."

McCaw said experience and determination got the team through.

"As soon as you start to think it's easy that's when you come unstuck."

"These moments are the ones when you feel most proud."

All Black great Jonah Lomu was also honoured, with the legendary winger inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame alongside 2004 Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ulmer.

Lomu said he was honoured to have his name alongside other Kiwi sporting legends.

"Seeing the list of names and having your own name added to it, it's a great privilege. "

Scott Dixon, who was IndyCar champion for the third time in 2013, won the sportsman of the year category ahead of IRB player of the year, All Black Kieran Read, world number one eventing champion Andrew Nicholson and track cycling world champion Aaron Gate.

Dixon is currently in the middle of preseason testing in America and gave his acceptance speech via video link.

Dixon won the 2013 Indy car title and said it was a "huge honour" to win the Halberg award.

He credited New Zealand's "never give up attitude" for pushing him to the top of last year's Indy podium.

"It's always a huge honour and a real privilege to represent New Zealand. "

"I hope to be there next year (at the awards), I'll try my best."

Pascoe took home the disabled sportsperson of the year for the third consecutive year. Her five medals at the IPC world championships saw her take the award ahead of fellow para swimming world champion Mary Fisher, blind bowling world champion David Monk and para shooting world record holder Michael Johnson.

Pascoe said it was exciting to win again. But she said the challenge was to improve again this year.

She also said she hoped one day the disabled award winner could be eligible for Sportsman or Sportswoman awards as well.

"I think it can get very big, I think it can get to he point where we can integrate the awards don't you?"

Fourteen year old swimmer Gabrielle Fa'amausili received the Westpac Emerging Talent award and a $10,000 sporting scholarship. The category, designed to identify and assist future world champions was closely contested by surfer Ella Williams, rower Tom Murray and motorcyclist Jake Lewis.

Gabrielle Fa'amausili thanked her single mum and supportive family after she won the Emerging Talent award.

She said the accolade was unexpected and she looked up to swimmers like Lauren Boyle, who was present tonight.

"It's pretty awesome [to beat them] buy they're a huge inspiration as well. I hope to be as successful as them one day.''

The winners

Halberg Award winner: Lydia Ko (Golf)

Finalists: Scott Dixon (High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year), Sophie Pascoe (Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year), All Blacks (Westpac Team of the Year).

High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year winner: Lydia Ko (Golf)

Finalists: Lauren Boyle (Swimming), Lisa Carrington (Canoeing), Valerie Adams (Athletics).

High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year winner: Scott Dixon (Motorsport)

Finalists: Aaron Gate (Cycling), Andrew Nicholson (Equestrian), Kieran Read (Rugby).

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year winner: Sophie Pascoe (Para Swimming)

Finalists: David Monk (Blind Bowling), Mary Fisher (Para Swimming), Mike Johnson (Para Shooting).

Westpac Team of the Year winner: All Blacks (Rugby)

Finalists: Black Sox (Softball), Men's Pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (Rowing), Women's 470 - JoAleh and Polly Powrie (Yachting) and Men's 49er Class Team - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (Yachting).

SKY SPORT Coach of the Year winner: Steve Hansen (Rugby)

Finalists: Eddie Kohlhase (Softball), Guy Wilson (Golf), Nathan Handley (Yachting).

Westpac Emerging Talent winner: Gabrielle Fa'amausili (Swimming)

Finalists: Ella Williams (Surfing), Jake Lewis (Motorcycling), Tom Murray (Rowing)

New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment winner:

Finalists: Black Sox (Softball), SKYCITY Breakers (Basketball), Steven Adams (Basketball), Chiefs (Rugby), Emirates Team New Zealand (Yachting), All Blacks vs South Africa (Rugby), Lydia Ko (Golf), Scott Dixon (Motorsport), Kiwis (Rugby League), All Blacks vs Ireland (Rugby)

Sport New Zealand Leadership Award: Richie McCaw (Rugby)

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame induction: Jonah Lomu (Rugby) and Sarah Ulmer (Cycling)

Lion Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award:Graham Sycamore (Cycling)

- APNZ

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