Lydia Ko has had a phenomenal year. (Photo by Joseph
Every four years the Olympics roll around which means
every four years Olympians dominate the Halberg Awards and it
will happen again at a gala function in Auckland tonight.
Only once has a non-Olympian won the Supreme Award in Olympic
year - Sir Richard Hadlee in 1980 - and that was when only
five New Zealand athletes competed at Moscow because of the
widespread boycott by Western countries.
In the major categories, kayaker Lisa Carrington will
probably win the Sportswoman of the Year Award, single
sculler Mahe Drysdale will probably take the Sportsman of the
Year gong, rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond will win the
team's award and Bond and Murray should be favourites to pick
up the Supreme Halberg Award.
They are the ones who will probably win. It doesn't
necessarily mean they are the ones who should win.
The women's category is arguably the hardest to pick, with
Valerie Adams also on the shortlist, but it's hard to look
past teenage golfing sensation Lydia Ko, who has had a
phenomenal 18 months.
Not only did the 15-year-old become the youngest winner in
professional golf history when she picked up the NSW Open
title but she also became the youngest to win on the LPGA
Tour when she beat nine of the world's top 10 to claim the
Canadian Open by four shots.
To add to her list of achievements, Ko also finished as the
leading amateur on her major debut at the US Open and again
at the British Open, became the first Kiwi to win the US
Amateur Championship and the youngest in history to win the
She finished her year in style by winning the individual
competition at the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team's
Championship in Turkey and, while it falls out of the judging
period, has followed it up with a win at last week's New
Zealand Women's Open.
This is not to denigrate the achievements of others. Far from
it. They have all achieved at the highest level.
Bond and Murray would be worthy winners of the Supreme Award.
The men's pairs combination went through their Olympic cycle
unbeaten, even scaring off their main rivals from Great
Britain who abandoned their campaign and joined a four, and
won the Olympic final in terrible conditions by nearly half
the length of Eton Dorney.
It's another reason why rowing guru Dick Tonks should win the
Coach of the Year award - although Carrington's mentor Gordon
Walker deserves special mention in a sport recently torn
apart by political infighting - and hugely-decorated swimmer
Sophie Pascoe is favourite in the Disabled Sportsperson of
the Year category.
Ko is a shoo-in for the Emerging Talent award. It's just she
probably deserves more than that.
And the finalists are ...
Sportswoman of the Year: Lisa Carrington (canoeing), Valerie
Adams (athletics), Lydia Ko (golf), Sarah Walker (BMX).
Sportsman of the Year: Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Andrew
Nicholson (equestrian), Simon van Velthooven (cycling),
Richie McCaw (rugby).
Disabled sportsperson of the Year: Cameron Leslie, Mary
Fisher, Sophie Pascoe (all Para swimming), Phillipa Gray
Team of the Year: Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen (rowing,
men's double scull), Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (rowing,
men's pair), Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (sailing, women's 470),
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (sailing, men's 49er), All
*The supreme Halberg Award comes from the winner of these
Emerging Talent: Andrew McKenzie (sailing), Lydia Ko (golf),
Dylan Kennett (track cycling), Anton Cooper (mountainbiking).
Coach of the Year: Gordon Walker (canoeing), Richard Tonks
(rowing), Calvin Ferguson (rowing), Nathan Handley (sailing)
- Michael Brown of APNZ