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New AIS award recognises athletes 'giving back'

21 November 2019

The AIS has announced the introduction of the Athlete Community Engagement Award, a celebration of the outstanding positive influence an athlete has on the community. The inaugural award will be presented at next month’s AIS Sport Performance Awards (#ASPAs).

Four outstanding Australian international representatives have been shortlisted as finalists, rewarding the overall impact they have had on the broader community across inclusion, diversity, health and mental wellbeing.

The Community Engagement Award recognises the strong commitment the AIS is making to ensure athletes have the right balance between wellbeing, engagement in activities outside of training and competition and the requirements of elite sport.

Finalists for Athlete Community Engagement Award are:-

Dylan Alcott (Wheelchair Tennis): Dylan used his profile to become a leading advocate for people with a disability, establishing two foundations, including the Dylan Alcott Foundation, and created the Ability Fest music festival. He is focused on changing the perception of people with disabilities and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Katie Kelly (Para-triathlon): Katie has made an enormous contribution in 2019. Katie is the Founder and Director of the Sport Access Foundation, is a Board member with Deafsport Australia and has delivered pro-bono speeches to Cricket Australia’s national inclusion camps and to the INAS Global Games Sports Summit. She also supports and mentors parents as well as young aspiring Paralympians through Sport Access Foundation.

Jenna O’Hea (Basketball): After losing her uncle to suicide, Jenna worked with Lifeline and the WNBL to create Lifeline Round where every three point shot scored converted into a $1,000 donation to assist Lifeline train more crisis supporters. Jenna is also involved in the AIS Lifeline Community Custodians program and delivers important messages about suicide prevention and mental health at events throughout the country.

Dylan Pietsch (Rugby Sevens): Dylan has been volunteering at Ronald McDonald House in Randwick up to three days per week undertaking various tasks such as scrubbing floors, emptying bins, cleaning bathrooms and walking the dog, all with a big smile on his face. He also volunteered for Jarred Hodges’ Dream Big Time Tour where he mentored young indigenous players from remote communities as they sought Rugby Sevens contracts.

The AIS has also announced finalists for Team of the Year with the Australian men’s hockey team, the Kookaburras in the running for the title for the fifth time, having previously captured the honour in 2004, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Finalists for Team of the Year:-

Men’s Team Pursuit (Cycling): Australia’s Leigh Howard, Kelland O’Brien, Samuel Welsford and Alex Porter smashed their own world record by nearly two seconds on the way to reclaiming the rainbow jersey at the 2019 Track World Championships. Cameron Scott, who sat out for the World Championship finals ride, also played a vital role in securing the team's place in the final.

Men’s Hockey Team (Hockey): The Kookaburras won the inaugural FIH Pro League, finishing first at the
end of the home and away season, and then defeating world number one ranked team Belgium in the final. The team reclaimed the number one world ranking at end of the FIH Pro League and scooped the individual awards winning four of the five on offer - Best Player of Pro League (Aran Zalewski), Top Scorer of Pro League (Blake Govers), Best Player of Final (Jacob Whetton) and Best Goalkeeper of Final (Tyler Lovell).

Women’s Four (Rowing): Under the guidance of coach, Tom Westgarth, the Australian team comprising Lucy Stephan, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Olympia Aldersey were crowned 2019 World Rowing Champions regaining the world title after a silver medal performance in 2018. They also claimed gold at World Rowing Cup 3, bronze at World Rowing Cup, and their strong performances helped Australia to win its first ever World Rowing Cup title.

Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (Sailing): Mat Belcher and Will Ryan continued to re-write the history books with another dominant year in the 470 Class to maintain their world number one ranking. At the 2019 Open 470 World Championship in Japan, Mat notched his eighth world title, Will his fifth and the pair’s fifth crown as a team – the most ever in the 470 class for a team. They have qualified for the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020.

Finalists for Female Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Male Para-athlete of the Year and High Performance Program of the Year have already been revealed with categories still to be announced including Male Athlete of the Year, Female Para-athlete of the Year, Emerging Athlete of the Year and Leadership Award.

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.

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.

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