The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has determined finalists for Female Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year for the 2019 AIS Sport Performance Awards (#ASPAs), with world number one Ash Barty picking up a third nomination.
Barty is already nominated for the ABC people’s choice Sport Personality of the Year and Sporting Moment of the Year, with sporting fans able to vote on those two categories at aisawards.abc.net.au. The Coach of the Year award recognises the important role of those behind the scenes and highlights Australia’s strong performance across multiple World Championship events in 2019.
The #ASPAs are the annual celebration of Australian high-performance sport, with winners to be announced at a black-tie function at The Star, Sydney, on Tuesday 10th December 2019.
Finalists in Female Athlete of the Year are:
- Kelsey-Lee Barber (Athletics): Kelsey won the women’s javelin at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, becoming the 9th Australian to win a World Championship title since the first edition in 1983. In fourth place coming into the final round, Barber launched the winning throw of 66.56 metres to move into the gold medal position. Barber won the 2019 Australian and 2019 Oceania championships, both with personal best (PB) performances.
- Ash Barty (Tennis): While a big year had been predicted for Barty, this was truly momentous. The Queenslander’s breakthrough French Open singles triumph was the first by an Australian woman since Margaret Court in 1973 and two weeks later the 23-year-old became the world number one joining a national honour roll completed by Evonne Goolagong Cawley, John Newcombe, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt. All of this just three years after Barty’s return to tennis.
- Stephanie Gilmore (Surfing): Winner of the 2019 World Surf League event in Bali, Gilmore also took out the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games title in Miyazaki Japan, competing for Team Australia, securing World Championship Tour ranking requirements for provisional qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Gilmore’s reputation for fair play, respect and integrity and her standing as a role model for sport as a leader earns her the nomination.
- Hannah Green (Golf): The 22-year-old West Australian became the first Australian to win a women’s golf major since Karrie Webb in 2006, when she took out the LPGA Championship in June. In winning the event, Green also became only the third Australian woman to win a major, after Webb and Jan Stephenson, with Green going on to win her second LPGA tour event in Portland in September.
- Jessica Fox (Canoe-Slalom): At only 25, Fox is the world’s most decorated & most successful individual canoe slalom paddler of all time, male or female. She took home seven medals at the 2019 World Cups, including three gold, bringing her overall World Cup gold medal tally to 30. Fox wrapped up the World Cup final with two gold medals in both the women’s K1 & C1 events, defending the overall World Cup crown in both classes. She won her 10th World Champion title, taking gold in the women’s C1 team with sister Noemie & Rosalyn Lawrence, securing selection to her third Olympic Games.
- Ariarne Titmus (Swimming): 19-year-old Titmus won two World Titles at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Korea in July, and in taking gold in the 400m freestyle, beat the legendary Katie Ledecky (USA) who hadn’t been defeated in a 400m free at a major event since 2012. Titmus also led off the Australian Team which won gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay, with the team setting a new World Record.
Finalists in Coach of the Year are:
- Colin Batch (Hockey): Batch guided the Australian men’s team, the Kookaburras, to victory at the inaugural FIH Pro League. The team finished first on the ladder at the end of the home and away season and went on to beat the World Number One ranked team Belgium in the final. The Kookaburras reclaimed the number one world ranking at end of FIH Pro League and scooped the individual awards winning four of the five on offer. Batch is a mentor to the two national assistant coaches and men’s National Junior coach, providing leadership and direction to not only the national programs but also the Hockey Australia talent pathway programs.
- Michael Blackburn (Sailing): As Head Coach of the Laser Class for the Australian Sailing Team, Blackburn leads a squad of five athletes, including Tokyo-bound Olympian Matt Wearn and Rio Olympic Laser gold medallist Tom Burton. Matt and Tom’s results have been world-leading, with at least one of them featuring on the podium in majority of regattas in the past 12 months.
- Tom Westgarth (Rowing): Westgarth has coached Australia’s Women’s Four to victory at the 2019 World Championships in Austria in August, with the crew undefeated at the event, in the process qualifying the boat for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
- Tim Decker (Cycling): Decker leads the track endurance program and coached the Australian men to world titles at the 2019 Track World Championships in the Team Pursuit (world record), along with the Scratch Race. Decker also guided the women’s Team Pursuit to gold.
Finalists still to be announced in other categories for the AIS Sport Performance Awards (#ASPAs) include – male athlete; male and female para-athlete; emerging athlete, leadership, the Sport Australia award, and a new category, the athlete community engagement award.
The AIS, in partnership with ABC Grandstand, has also launched a public vote to determine the ABC Sport Personality of the Year and Best Sporting Moment of the past 12 months.
ABC Grandstand is the media partner for the AIS Sport Performance Awards and Australians can vote at aisawards.abc.net.au from now until 5pm AEDT on 5 December, 2019.