Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Lisa Carrington queen of sport with Halberg Awards wins

Lisa Carrington is - officially - the new queen of New Zealand sport.

The canoeist has tonight been named the 2016 sportswoman of the year, before claiming the supreme Halberg Award.

At the Rio Olympics, Carrington took gold in the K1 200m and bronze in the K1 500m, becoming the first New Zealand female to claim multiple medals at an Olympics.

Olympian Lisa Carrington and partner Michael Buck at the Awards.Photo / Nick Reed.
Olympian Lisa Carrington and partner Michael Buck at the Awards.Photo / Nick Reed.

Just as she did at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Carrington trumped an extremely strong field at the 54th Halberg Awards, after a remarkable year of Kiwi achievement, highlighted by a record 18 medals in Brazil.

The 27-year-old Carrington becomes the third woman to win the top award in the past decade, after Lydia Ko (2013) and Valerie Adams (2007-09).

Watch: Mahe Drysdale on winning the sportsman of the year award

Video

Mahe Drysdale won the sportsman of the year award after his thrilling triumph in Rio, while sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke pipped the superstar rowing pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond.

Gordon Walker, who masterminded the rise of Carrington, was acclaimed as coach of the year, ahead of Steve Hansen, Hamish Willcox (sailing) and Jeremy McColl (athletics).

Olympic rower Mahe Drysdale and wife, Juliette Haigh. Drysdale took the Sportsman of the Year award. Photo / Nick Reed.
Olympic rower Mahe Drysdale and wife, Juliette Haigh. Drysdale took the Sportsman of the Year award. Photo / Nick Reed.

Liam Malone was named the disabled sportsperson of the year. Malone won two golds and a silver medal at the Rio Paralympics and claimed the hotly contested category ahead of Sophie Pascoe, Anna Grimaldi and Mary Fisher.

Carrington is a deserved winner. Last August, she joined a select bunch of New Zealanders to reach the podium more than once at a single Olympics, including Danyon Loader, Ian Ferguson and Peter Snell.

Carrington was favoured to defend her title in the K-1 200m event but the longer K-1 500m race was a paddle into the unknown. It's the blue riband race in women's kayaking, with the best athletes across the spectrum, and Carrington was relatively inexperienced in the longer format. But she clung on tenaciously to earn bronze by a narrow margin.

Paralympian Liam Malone (aka NZ Blade Runner) with father Murray Malone. Photo / Nick Reed.
Paralympian Liam Malone (aka NZ Blade Runner) with father Murray Malone. Photo / Nick Reed.

"It was pure determination that got her there," reflected Walker after the race. "She wanted it more and that got her home."

Carrington headed a strong female field tonight. She edged Ko, who reached world No 1 last year and took her second major, as well as Olympic silver medallists Luuka Jones (canoe slalom) and Adams.

Drysdale took out the male category for a record fifth time, after claiming the award in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012. No other sportsman has won it more than three times.

Drysdale was always favourite, given rowing's history of success at these awards, though Joseph Parker probably had the strongest claim of the other finalists, which also included Rio bronze medallists Nick Willis and Tom Walsh.

Olympic sailors Blair Tuke (left) and Peter Burling at the 54th Halberg Awards. Photo / Nick Reed.
Olympic sailors Blair Tuke (left) and Peter Burling at the 54th Halberg Awards. Photo / Nick Reed.

The team category was a genuine clash of the titans. How to separate the incomparable feats of Bond and Murray, versus the unprecedented achievements of Burling and Tuke? The judges did, in what must have been an extremely close call, with maybe the global nature of sailing the deciding factor.

Track cyclist Campbell Stewart, who claimed two junior world championship titles in 2016, won the emerging talent award ahead of Dylan Schmidt (trampoline), Finn Bilous (snow sports) and Maynard Peel (BMX).

Ruben Wiki (league) and Don Jowett (athletics) were inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, and Myra Larcombe was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement award for services to swimming. Pascoe was presented with the Sport New Zealand Leadership award.

Paralympian Sophie Pascoe was presented with the Sport New Zealand Leadership award. Photo / Nick Reed.
Paralympian Sophie Pascoe was presented with the Sport New Zealand Leadership award. Photo / Nick Reed.

The winners

Supreme Halberg Award winner: Lisa Carrington (canoeing).
Finalists: Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Liam Malone (para-athletics), men's 49er - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (yachting).

Sportswoman of the Year: Lisa Carrington (canoeing).
Finalists: Luuka Jones (canoeing), Lydia Ko (golf), Dame Valerie Adams (athletics).

Sportsman of the Year: Mahe Drysdale (rowing).
Finalists: Joseph Parker (boxing), Nick Willis (athletics) Tom Walsh (athletics).

Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: Liam Malone (para-athletics).
Finalists: Anna Grimaldi (para-athletics), Mary Fisher (para-swimming), Sophie Pascoe (para-swimming).

Team of the Year: Men's 49er - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (yachting).
Finalists: Men's pair - Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing), Team Sprint - Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster (cycling), Women's 470 - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (yachting).

Coach of the Year: Gordon Walker (canoeing).
Finalists: Hamish Willcox (yachting), Jeremy McColl (athletics), Steve Hansen (rugby).

Favourite Sporting Moment: Eliza McCartney (athletics).

Emerging Talent: Campbell Stewart (cycling).
Finalists: Dylan Schmidt (trampoline), Finn Bilous (snow sports), Maynard Peel (cycling BMX).

Leadership Award: Sophie Pascoe (para-swimming).

Lifetime Achievement Award: Myra Larcombe (swimming).

Hall of Fame inductees: Ruben Wiki (league), Don Jowett (athletics).

- NZ Herald

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