Olympians were to the fore when the 63 nominees for the 50th Halberg Awards were announced today.
The nominees for the Halbergs, which will be handed out at Vector Arena in Auckland on February 14, will be whittled down to finalists by a 30-strong voting committee comprising media representatives, former athletes and coaches and announced on January 1. Any outstanding performances by individuals or teams will still be considered until December 31.
Olympic single sculls gold medallist Mahe Drysdale and world No 1 eventer Andrew Nicholson will be strong contenders for Sportsman of the Year but shot put champion Valerie Adams will face stiff competition from the likes of canoe sprint gold medallist Lisa Carrington, young golfing sensation Lydia Ko and BMX rider Sarah Walker.
Team of the Year will be one of the most hotly-contested categories with Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (rowing), Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (rowing), the New Zealand Breakers (Basketball), Chiefs (rugby), Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic (netball) and Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (sailing) among the nominees.
"There have been so many captivating sporting performances in 2012 that I am sure will fuel public speculation leading up to the Awards," said Geoff Burgess, Halberg Awards spokesman and Halberg Disability Sport Foundation chief executive.
"Five gold medals and a record-equalling 13 medal haul at the London Olympics was part of an incredible year that also saw the Silver Ferns and All Blacks dominate their competition, and the New Zealand Paralympic Team bring home a remarkable 17 medals.
"In 2012 we also saw new sporting stars emerge, not to mention the outstanding victories of the Chiefs, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and New Zealand Breakers to mention a few. The competition is huge this year."
Sportsman of the Year: Jack Bauer (cycling), Scott Campbell (baseball), Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Mitch Evans (motorsport), Westley Gough (cycling), Richie McCaw (rugby), Brook MacDonald (cycling - mountain biking), Peter Michael (speed skating), Andrew Nicholson (equestrian), Hayden Paddon (motorsport), Levi Sherwood (freestyle motocross), Simon van Velthooven (cycling).
Sportswoman of the Year: Valerie Adams (athletics), Lauren Boyle (swimming), Lisa Carrington (canoeing), Joelle King (squash), Lydia Ko (golf), Sarah Walker (BMX), Alison Shanks (cycling), Linda Villumsen (cycling).
Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: Mary Fisher (para swimming), Phillipa Gray (para cycling), Cameron Leslie (para swimming), Sophie Pascoe (para swimming), Daniel Sharp (para swimming), Fiona Southorn (para cycling).
Team of the Year: All Blacks (rugby), Chiefs (rugby), New Zealand Diamond Blacks (baseball), John Kennard and Hayden Paddon (motorsport), NZ eventing Olympic team (Equestrian), NZ men's 49er class team - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (sailing), NZ men's double scull - Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (rowing), NZ men's lightweight double sculls - Peter Taylor and Storm Uru (rowing), NZ men's pair - Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (rowing), NZ men's pursuit team - Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan, Jesse Sergent, Westley Gough, Aaron Gate NZ (cycling), New Zealand Breakers (basketball), NZ men's sprint team - Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Edward Dawkins (cycling), New Zealand surf life saving team (surf lifesaving), NZ women's 470 team - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (sailing), NZ women's pair - Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh (rowing), Silver Ferns (netball), Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (netball).
Emerging Talent: Anton Cooper (mountain biking), Macauley Fox (baseball), Trent Jones (BMX), Dylan Kennett (track cycling), Lydia Ko (golf), Andrew McKenzie (sailing), Corey Main (swimming), Mathew Ogden (orienteering), Sophie Williamson (road cycling).
Coach of the Year: Scott Bartlett (surf lifesaving), Roly Crichton (para swimming), Erik Duvander (equestrian), Calvin Ferguson (rowing), Nathan Handley (sailing), Steve Hansen (rugby), Dave Rennie (rugby), Waimarama Taumaunu (netball), Noeline Taurua (netball), Richard Tonks (rowing), Gordon Walker (canoeing).