Bay of plenty athletes are crowding the nominations for the Halberg Awards which will be decided at the Vector Arena on February 9.
Five of the 16 supreme award nominations from the Bay of Plenty including double Olympic medallist Lisa Carrington from Whakatane, and Rotorua residents and Rio silver medallists Luuka Jones and Valerie Adams who are among the women nominees for the supreme Halberg Award.
The Halberg Awards are 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.
There is also a bay presence in the Team of the Year category. Finalists include two Olympic champion crews; the Men's 49er with Tauranga's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke and Rowing Pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray along with silver medallists; the Team Sprint cyclists Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster and the 470 crew Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie.
Finalists in the High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year category are Olympic rowing champion Mahe Drysdale from Tauranga, WBO World Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker and Rio bronze medallists, shot putter Tom Walsh and runner Nick Willis.
Sixteen finalists from the Disabled Sportsperson, Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year categories are all in line for the supreme award.
The Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award includes 2015 recipient Sophie Pascoe. The Para-Swimmer, who won three gold and two silver at the Paralympics is up against fellow gold medallists Anna Grimaldi, Mary Fisher and Liam Malone, who won double gold and a silver in Rio.
The Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year Award includes the 2015 winner - All Blacks coach and World Rugby Coach of the Year Steve Hansen. Hansen is up against Hamish Willcox who led the Men's 49er crew to Olympic success in Rio, Gordon Walker who guided Lisa Carrington to double Rio gold and Jeremy McColl who directed Eliza McCartney to her first Olympics and a silver medal.
Finalists in the SKY NEXT Emerging Talent Award all had huge achievements on the world stage in 2016. Track Cyclist Campbell Stewart who claimed two Junior World Championship titles in the Omnium and Team Pursuit has been shortlisted along with Dylan Schmidt - New Zealand's first athlete to compete in Trampoline at the Olympics finishing in seventh place. Maynard Peel, who won the World Junior Championship at the UCI BMX World Championship and freeskiier Finn Bilous, who won the country's first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games medals (a silver and bronze) are also finalists.
The Halberg Awards judges of former athletes, coaches and sports journalists selected the shortlist from 87 nominations for the six categories.
Other awards presented during the ceremony include; New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment (public vote category), Sport New Zealand Leadership and Lifetime Achievement. Inductees into the Sports Hall of Fame will also be made at the event.
The annual Halberg Awards is the major fundraiser for the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, the charity set up by Olympic champion Sir Murray Halberg (ONZ) to enhance the lives of physically disabled New Zealanders.
A team of Advisers based around the country connect physically disabled young people to sport and recreation opportunities. They also deliver training on adapting sports and work with clubs, schools and organisations to provide inclusive events, coaching and programmes. The Foundation also hosts the Halberg Junior Disability Games - a national three day sports competition for physically disabled young people.
“This outstanding shortlist represents the best of New Zealand sporting success on the world stage in 2016. We look forward to celebrating all of these achievements and bestowing the supreme honours on the worthy recipient on February 9,” says Shelley McMeeken, Chief Executive of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.
Full list of finalists for the 54th Halberg Awards:
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year; Joseph Parker Boxing, Mahe Drysdale Rowing, Nick Willis Athletics, Tom Walsh Athletics.
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year Lisa Carrington, Canoeing, Luuka Jones, Canoeing, Lydia Ko, Golf, Valerie Adams, Athletics.
Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
Anna Grimaldi, Para-Athletics, Liam Malone, Para-Athletics, Mary Fisher, Para-Swimming, Sophie Pascoe, Para-Swimming.
Team of the Year
Men's 49er – Peter Burling and Blair Tuke Yachting, 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.
Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year
Gordon Walker, Canoeing, Hamish Willcox, Yachting, Jeremy McColl, Athletics, Steve Hansen, Rugby.
SKY NEXT Emerging Talent
Campbell Stewart, Cycling, Dylan Schmidt, Trampoline, Finn Bilous, Snow Sports, Maynard Peel, Cycling BMX.
Go to www.halbergawards.co.nz, search ‘Halberg Awards' on Facebook or @Halberg_DSF on Twitter #HalbergAwards.