Olympians Paul Henare, Emma Twigg and Westley Gough are among the favourites for the second Sportsperson of the Decade award to be presented at tomorrow night's Hawke's Bay Sports Awards function.
Selecting a winner must have been tough for the judges but with a bronze medal won with the Kiwi men's pursuit cycling team at the 2008 Olympics, Gough might have the edge for this 2000-2009 decade award. His second bronze medal was won at the 2012 Olympics.
Rower Twigg won the premier award at the Hawke's Bay Sportsperson of the Year Awards function on two occasions, 2005 and '07, during this decade but didn't win an Olympic medal.
Twigg is also a finalist for the People's Choice award with White Ferns cricketer Rosemary Mair, Hawks basketballer Jarrod Kenny and Magpies rugby player Brad Weber at the Forsyth Barr-sponsored function which will be attended by a crowd of 560.
Henare, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight, played for the Tall Blacks at Olympic Games and World Champs level during this decade, but didn't win a medal at these events.
Finalists for the Sportsperson of the Decade award are the respective winners of the supreme award during the 10-year period.
The award will be presented by Sport Hawke's Bay chairman Damon Harvey.
"The judges would have challenged each other on their respective choices as all finalists were top performers nationally and internationally ," Harvey said.
This category was last contested in 2000 and it was presented to Cis Winstanley who won the national women's lawn bowls title on 15 occasions between 1965 and 1978. Winstanley died in 2006.
Joining Gough, Twigg and Henare as finalists for the Sportsperson of the Decade award will be cyclist Jeremy Yates, Henare's former Hawks teammate Willie Burton, footballer Mark Paston, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, multisporter George Christison and former All Black Zac Guildford.
Gough's cousin and fellow cyclist Regan Gough, the 2015 winner of the supreme award, will join 2016 and 2018 winner of the supreme award, kayaker Aimee Fisher, Silver Ferns netballer Kimiora Poi, world-ranked alpine skier Piera Hudson and world-ranked mountainbiker Brook Macdonald in the tussle for the senior award.
Considering the calibre of these finalists, it will be a surprise if the winner of the supreme award doesn't come from the senior category. However, there are plenty of New Zealand representatives and national champions among the other categories.
"It's one of the strongest years across all categories. We had 55 finalists from 23 sports and this shows the breadth of high performing sports people and coaches in the region," Sport Hawke's Bay's commercial manager Ryan Hambleton said.
"We've got finalists from Wairoa in the north to Central Hawke's Bay which is tremendous," added Hambleton.
Television personality Peter Williams will host the function.