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Emerging athletes to join elite alumni

29 November 2019

Four outstanding young athletes are finalists for the Emerging Athlete of the Year award at this year’s AIS Sports Performance Awards (#ASPAs) and in line to follow in the footsteps of international basketball stars Lauren Jackson and Ben Simmons as a winner of this prestigious award.

Layne Beachley’s transformation from a world champion surfer to a leading sports administrator has seen her named as a finalist in the Award for Leadership category which recognises an individual’s broader contribution to the high performance system.

The #ASPAs are the annual celebration of Australian high performance sport and the winners will be announced at a black-tie function at The Star, Sydney, on Tuesday 10 December 2019.

Finalists for the Award for Leadership are:

Lynne Anderson (Paralympics Australia): Lynne is CEO of Paralympics Australia (PA) and has led a management team that has made significant progress addressing organisational reform, including rebuilding its financial strength and consolidating its position in the sports marketplace as Australia’s peak body for disability sport. She has driven a new strategic direction, in combination with enhanced governance that have created an environment to expedite the overall performance and results of PA.

Layne Beachley (Surfing): As chair of Surfing Australia, Laynehas driven change whilst inspiring others as a legend of her sport. She has provided oversight across Board governance, digital and partnerships, high performance and participation/community programs. In 2003, Layne founded the Layne Beachley Foundation to support women in pursuing their passion by providing financial and mentoring support. After 15 years and 500 life-changing scholarships distributed, the foundation announced it would be closing it’s door in June 2019.

Robyn Smith (Sport Inclusion Australia): In addition to being CEO at Sport Inclusion Australia, Robyn was CEO of the 2019 Global Games Organising Committee for the successful INAS Global Games in Brisbane. The Games attracted more than 1,000 athletes and saw broadcast and corporate partners affirm their commitment to celebrating diversity and inclusion and bring a different perspective of sport to Australian audiences. The Games showcased the power of sport to break down barriers and stigmas around intellectual impairment.

Craig Tiley (Tennis): Craig is CEO of Tennis Australia and is recognised as an innovative and forward thinking administrator. He has a great focus on improving and transforming the Australian Open into the players' favourite Grand Slam and one of Australia's biggest sporting events to attend and watch. He has been an advocate for gender equality across all levels of tennis and is committed to diversity and equal opportunity.

Finalists for Emerging Athlete of the Year are:

Paige Greco (Para-cycling): Paige won her first selection in an Australian World Championship team at the 2019 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in the Netherlands. She won two gold medals and set two world records in both the C3 Individual Pursuit and Time Trial. She also represented Australia at the 2019 Road World Championships claiming another gold medal and a world title in the Time Trial.

Amy Lawton (Hockey): A 17-year old high school student, Amy, made her debut for the Hockeyroos in the  ANZAC day match in New Zealand scoring on debut and making an instant impression. She was then selected for the Oceania Cup Olympic qualification event scoring in the three Test series. She later played in the Olympic Qualifiers against Russia in Perth and scored in the opening match.

Keegan Palmer (Skateboarding): Keegan, aged 16, is Australia's highest world ranked skateboarding athlete having finished the season at number four. He finished fourth at the 2019 World Championship (Olympic discipline) and was third in the first Olympic Qualifying Event of 2019. He displays fair play, respect and sportsmanship as evidenced in the World Championship final when he was the first to the scene when a fellow competitor was seriously injured. He remained by the athletes’ side whilst medical treatment was administered.

Ria Thompson (Rowing): Ria won the 2019 Women’s Single Scull at the World U23 Rowing Championship in the USA coming from behind to claim victory. She also captured the Australian U23 Women’s Single Scull and the U23 Women’s Quadruple Scull titles. She also won a silver medal in the U23 Women’s Double Scull and a silver medal, representing Victoria, in the Interstate Women’s Eight.

The ASPAs will once again recognise the value of fair play and integrity in connection with a sporting endeavour through the Sport Australia Award. First introduced in 2018, the award acknowledges athletes, coaches, support staff or industry figures who have demonstrated the spirit of sport during the previous 12 months, and highlights the inspiring impact sporting role models can have on all Australians.

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 from now until 5pm AEDT on 5 December, 2019.

To view all #ASPA’s award finalists – visit /

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