Olympians eye Halberg Awards haul

By Michael Brown

Lisa Carrington, who won gold at the London Olympics, is a favourite to take home the Sportswoman of the Year award. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Lisa Carrington, who won gold at the London Olympics, is a favourite to take home the Sportswoman of the Year award. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Olympians will dominate the Halberg Awards in Auckland tonight.

Only once has a non-Olympian won the Supreme Award in Olympic year - Sir Richard Hadlee in 1980 - and that was when only five New Zealand athletes competed at Moscow because of the widespread boycott by Western countries.

In the major categories, kayaker Lisa Carrington will probably win the Sportswoman of the Year award, single sculler Mahe Drysdale will probably take Sportsman of the Year, and rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond will win the team award. Bond and Murray should also be favourites to pick up the Supreme Halberg Award, which goes to a winner of the three main categories.

They are the ones who will probably win. It doesn't mean they should.

The women's category is arguably the hardest to pick, with Valerie Adams also on the shortlist, but it's hard to look past teenage golfing sensation Lydia Ko, who has had a phenomenal 18 months.

Not only did the 15-year-old become the youngest winner in professional golf history when she picked up the NSW Open title but she also became the youngest to win on the LPGA Tour when she beat nine of the world's top 10 to claim the Canadian Open by four shots.

Ko also finished as the leading amateur on her major debut at the US Open and again at the British Open, became the first Kiwi to win the US Amateur Championship and the youngest in history to win the Australian Amateur. She finished her year by winning the individual competition at the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey and, while it falls out of the judging period, won last week's New Zealand Women's Open.

Bond and Murray would be worthy winners of the Supreme Award. The men's pairs combination went through their Olympic cycle unbeaten, scaring off their main rivals from Great Britain who abandoned their campaign to join a four, and won the Olympic final by nearly half the length of Eton Dorney.

It's another reason why rowing guru Dick Tonks should win the Coach of the Year award.

Hugely decorated swimmer Sophie Pascoe is the favourite in the Disabled Sportsperson category.

Ko is a shoo-in for the Emerging Talent award, but she deserves more than that.

And the finalists are ...

Sportswoman of the Year: Lisa Carrington (canoeing), Valerie Adams (athletics), Lydia Ko (golf), Sarah Walker (BMX).

Sportsman of the Year: Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Andrew Nicholson (equestrian), Simon van Velthooven (cycling), Richie McCaw (rugby).

Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: Cameron Leslie, Mary Fisher, Sophie Pascoe (all para swimming), Phillipa Gray (para cycling).

Team of the Year: Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen (rowing, men's double scull), Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (rowing, men's pair), Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (sailing, women's 470), Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (sailing, men's 49er), All Blacks (rugby).

Emerging Talent: Andrew McKenzie (sailing), Lydia Ko (golf), Dylan Kennett (track cycling), Anton Cooper (mountainbiking).

Coach of the Year: Gordon Walker (canoeing), Richard Tonks, Calvin Ferguson (both rowing), Nathan Handley (sailing).

- APNZ

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