Some of Bay of Plenty's finest sporting athletes have been recognised in this year's Halberg Awards.
The Halberg Foundation has today announced the finalists for six categories at the 55th Halberg Awards – the nation's pre-eminent event to honour and celebrate sporting achievements by New Zealand athletes, teams and coaches in 2017.
Sixteen finalists from the Disabled Sportsperson, Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year categories are all in line for the supreme Halberg Award – the country's highest accolade for sporting excellence, presented to the athlete or team whose achievement is deemed by the judges as representing excellence in sport at the highest level.
2016 supreme Halberg Award winner Lisa Carrington is in line for the top honours again as a finalist in two categories - the Team of the Year and High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year.
Carrington is a finalist in the High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year for claiming medals in all her four events at the World Kayaking Championships – including two gold. Joining Carrington is golfer Lydia Ko who continues to be ranked within the world top 10 and Black Ferns' Portia Woodman, who was named World Rugby Women's Player of the Year. Sarah Goss, the double international Black Ferns player and Black Ferns Sevens World Series winning captain, completes the shortlist.
Carrington and Caitlin Ryan who paired up in the Women's K2 500m to a world championship title are up for the Team of the Year category. Two other world champion teams; the Black Ferns and Black Sox are finalists, along with America's Cup winners Emirates Team New Zealand.
The Halberg Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award includes four time winner, Para swimmer Sophie Pascoe who set six world records in 2017. William Stedman and Holly Robinson who both won silver medals at the World Para Athletics Championships and Para skier Corey Peters who won two silver medals at the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships also make the shortlist.
World champion shot putter Tom Walsh and Formula One driver and Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley are up for the Sportsman of the Year. All Black and World Rugby Men's Player of the year Beauden Barrett and Blackcap Ross Taylor, who ended 2017 with the best test average in the world , are also finalists.
2016 winner Gordon Walker is up for the Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year. In 2017 Walker guided four canoe racing boats, including Lisa Carrington, to medals at the World Kayak Championships. Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson, Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore and rowing coach Gary Hay who all led their teams to world championship victories round out the shortlist.
The Emerging Talent award features a group of young athletes who have had great achievements in 2017 including track cyclist Ellesse Andrews who won the individual pursuit and a world record at the UCI Junior Track World Championships. Sailor Josh Armit who won the under 17 Laser Radial World Title, freeskiier Nico Porteous who won the Australia New Zealand Cup Free Ski Halfpipe and rower Matthew MacDonald who claimed a silver medal in the Men's Coxless Four at the World Junior Rowing Championships are also finalists.
The winners will be presented at the 55th Halberg Awards ceremony on February 8 at Spark Arena in Auckland.
Halberg Foundation chief executive Shelley McMeeken said the shortlist was an outstanding group of athletes, coaches, and teams who had made New Zealanders proud.
Full list of finalists for the 55th Halberg Awards:
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Lisa Carrington (Canoe Racing), Lydia Ko (Golf), Portia Woodman (Rugby Union), Sarah Goss (Rugby Union).
Sportsman of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Beauden Barrett (Rugby Union), Brendon Hartley (Motorsport), Ross Taylor (Cricket), Tom Walsh (Athletics).
Halberg Disabled Sportsperson of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Corey Peters (Para alpine skiing), Holly Robinson (Para athletics), Sophie Pascoe (Para swimming), William Stedman (Para athletics).
Team of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Black Ferns (Rugby Union), Black Sox (Softball), Emirates Team NZ (Yachting), Women's K2 – Lisa Carrington & Caitlin Ryan (Canoe Racing).
Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year
Gary Hay (Rowing), Glenn Moore (Rugby Union), Gordon Walker (Canoe Racing), Mark Sorenson (Softball).
Ellesse Andrews (Cycling), Josh Armit (Yachting), Matthew MacDonald (Rowing), Nico Porteous (Freeski).