Another outstanding field for Otago Sports Awards

Dougal Allan and his kayak in Wanaka earlier this month. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
The Otago Sports Awards finalists have been announced and it is a quality field.

The qualifying period was from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, so includes the Commonwealth Games.

The sportsman of the year category continues the tradition of all finalists having very strong claims.

Adventure racer Dougal Allan claimed the Coast to Coast title for the first time after previously having placed second three times and third once.

Allan is joined by Oli Chignell, who holds multiple New Zealand titles in distance running, and All Black vice-captain and Highlanders fullback Ben Smith.

A young field of women will be contesting the sportswoman of the year category.

Commonwealth Games javelin silver medallist Holly Robinson, Touch Blacks captain Dayna Turnbull and Winter X Games gold medallist Zoe Sadowski-Synnott vie for the honours.

Snowsports provide two of the three finalists for the Otago Community Trust-sponsored coach of the year title.

Tim Cafe coaches downhill sensation Alice Robinson, and Mitchell Brown has coached Zoe Sadowski-Synnott to X Games success.

They are joined by athletics coach Raylene Bates, a previous winner of the award.

Alpine skier Robinson will be challenged in the junior sportswoman of the year award by New Zealand basketball representative Nicole Ruske and New Zealand cyclist Ella Harris, who has recently signed with German team Canyon-SRAM.

The junior sportsman of the year category has two new finalists coming up against a previous winner.

Black Sticks hockey debutant Malachi Buschl is joined by promising rugby and sevens representative Vilimoni Koroi in trying to defeat the incumbent winner of this category, freeskier Nico Porteous.

In the team of the year category, all three finalists have national titles on their resume.

The teams contesting the coveted award are the Dunedin Technical women's football team, the Southern Steel netballers and the Otago Gold Rush basketball team.

Last year's winner, Chris Gaffaney, is back to defend the official of the year award. He will be joined by Jono Bredin, who umpired the Commonwealth Games netball final, and Dunedin rugby referee James Doleman, who has amassed 100 games on the world sevens circuit.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Dunedin Town Hall on May 17.

The Otago Sports Awards are organised by Sport Otago to recognise and celebrate excellence in sporting achievement in the province.

The judges are Megan Gibbons (Otago Polytechnic), Craig Cumming (NZME), Steve Hepburn (ODT), Dean Horo (High Performance Sport New Zealand) and John Brimble (Sport Otago).

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