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Fearnley’s victory for para-sport honoured at AIS awards

13 December 2018

Kurt Fearnley with the Best Sporting Moment ASPA
Kurt Fearnley and the inclusion of para sports at the 2018 Commonwealth Games won the AIS Sport Performance Award for Best Sporting Moment - as chosen by the Australian Public. Photo: Narelle Spangher

Key highlights

  • Para-integration at Commonwealth Games wins hearts of Australian sport fans
  • Craig Lowndes crowned ABC Sport Personality of the Year
  • Family honours: Jess and Myriam Fox named Female Athlete and Coach of Year
  • Inaugural Sport Australia Award recognises integrity and fair play
  • Cycling Australia collects three major awards

Australian sport fans have voted Kurt Fearnley’s marathon triumph and the full integration of para-sport at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as the Best Sporting Moment of the year, announced at tonight’s AIS Sport Performance Awards in Sydney.

Almost 20,000 Australians voted to determine two public choice awards, with retiring motorsport icon Craig Lowndes proving to be a popular choice and named ABC Sport Personality of the Year.

Almost 400 guests attended the black-tie AIS Sport Performance Awards at the Star in Sydney, the annual celebration of Australian high performance sport. The gala event culminated with Fearnley accepting an award for Best Sporting Moment on behalf of Australia’s Paralympic athletes.

Fearnley’s gold medal in his final marathon for Australia at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games became symbolic of the successful integration of para-sport into the Games. Chosen to carry the Australian flag in the closing ceremony, Fearnley’s powerful words helped define his legacy as an advocate and leader for Australians with disabilities.

“Right now, we have just finished the best and most inclusive Commonwealth Games that we have ever had,” Fearnley said after the Games. "It has been the best two weeks of my life.”

"Through the medium of sport, that is what our movement represents, hope. Hope that if sport can adjust to include those with disabilities, maybe community can follow.”

Kurt Fearnley accepts the award for Best Sporting Moment.

Public sentiment was strong for Australia’s retiring champions, with Lowndes leading a public poll of 15 finalists to be crowned ABC Sport Personality of the Year, ahead of Fearnley. In his last full season on the V8 Supercar circuit, Lowndes partnered with Steven Richards to win a seventh Bathurst 1000 and confirm his status as an Australian motorsport icon.

In a wonderful family story, the dominant duo of Jessica Fox and mother Myriam Fox were named Female Athlete and Coach of the Year respectively. Jessica Fox, 24, created history by becoming the most decorated female slalom paddler of all time. The Olympic silver and bronze medallist wrapped up a dominant season by winning gold in both the K1 and C1 at the 2018 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

Myriam Fox, a former world champion paddler and Olympic bronze medallist with France, coaches Australia’s women’s canoe slalom program. The full squad, including Jessica, finished the 2018 International season with a record haul of 10 gold medals, one silver and a bronze across under 23 and senior competitions.

Cycling Australia’s successful year was reflected in three awards. Rohan Dennis was named Male Athlete of the Year for his victory in the Time Trial World Championships, Australia’s first world title on the road since Cadel Evans in 2009. The future also looks bright, young rider Luke Plapp named Emerging Athlete of the Year after strong international performances on track and road. Cycling Australia took out High Performance Program of the Year, recognising success on both the track and road, including a table-topping 10 gold medals on the track at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Sport Australia Chair John Wylie launched a new award recognising the value of sportsmanship, fair play and integrity. The inaugural Sport Australia Award went to 10,000m runners Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings, who helped define the spirit of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by waiting at the finish line to embrace and congratulate the last-placed athlete, Lineo Chaka of the African nation of Lesotho.

Paralympic snowboarding gold medallist Simon Patmore was honoured with Para-Performance of the Year, becoming the first Australian man to win a medal at a Summer and Winter Paralympics. Patmore became Australia’s first gold medallist at a Winter Paralympics since 2002 when he took gold in the Men’s Snowboard Cross SB-UL at PyeongChang. Patmore also claimed a bronze medal at PyeongChang in the Men’s Banked Slalom SB-UL, adding to his athletics bronze from the 2012 London Paralympics in the 200m.

The Australian Kookaburras were named Team of the Year, having taken out the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy in 2018.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips accepted the Award for Leadership for his role in a successful 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Winners at the AIS Sport Performance Awards

Coach of the Year Myriam Fox and Female Athlete of the Year Jess Fox
AIS Sport Performance Awards Coach of the Year Myriam Fox, left, and Female Athlete of the Year Jess Fox. Photo: Narelle Spangher
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