Six outstanding NSW athletes are in the running for the top award at the upcoming NSW Sports Awards after being named as finalists for the 2016 NSW Athlete of the Year.
Australian men’s cricket captain Steve Smith will be set against Rio Olympic Gold medal winning sailor Tom Burton, bronze medal canoeist Jessica Fox, bronze medal equestrian rider Stuart Tinney OAM, NSW Swifts and soon to be GWS Giants netballer Susan Pettitt and rugby league’s Dally M Female Player of the Year Kezie Apps in the race for the prestigious title.
After becoming one of Australia’s youngest Test cricket captains at 26, Steve Smith guided a team in transition, following the retirement of Michael Clark. Smith led from the front in 2016 as one of the best performing batsmen in the world with 935 runs in 11 Tests (including three centuries) at an average of 66.79 during the nomination period for the Awards.
Tom Burton had a standout year in 2016 with regular top place finishes at Sailing World Cup events around the world. However, the Olympics in Rio took his year to another level. Going into his final race in second place, and with only an outside chance of overtaking the series leader, Burton’s tactical prowess saw him match race the first placed Croatian off the start line and then move up the fleet to claim Australia’s only sailing Gold medal.
As captain of the Australian Fast5 team, Susan Pettitt led the team to Silver at the 2016 World Series. She was also named in the 2016 ANZ Championship All-Star Team at Goal Attack after another outstanding season with the NSW Swifts. Off-court Pettitt’s community work with NetSetGo and player appearances has helped netball grow in popularity as she acts a role model to aspiring young athletes.
Champion slalom canoeist Jessica Fox once again produced dominant performances in 2016. In nine World Cup outings she achieving seven podium finishes including three victories, comfortably placing her in the world’s top three in both the canoe and kayak disciplines. Most notably Jessica competed in her second Olympic Games claiming bronze at Rio in the K1 event.
After a 12-year absence, Stuart Tinney made his Olympic return in 2016 when he won a team Bronze and placed 22nd individually. He is one of the most highly regarded athletes, horse trainers and equestrian coaches in Australia, having now represented Australia as an elite athlete for over 20 years.
Playing for the NSW Women’s Rugby League team, Kezie Apps had a year like no other. After being named Player of the Match at the Interstate Challenge (won by NSW for the first time in 18 years) Apps went on to win the NSW Women’s Player of the Year and Dally M Women’s Player of the Year, as well as representing the Jillaroos, Australia’s Women’s Rugby League team.
The 2016 NSW Athlete of the Year will be presented at the NSW Sports Awards gala dinner to be held at Navarra Venue’s Curzon Hall in Marsfield on Thursday 23 February 2017. Tickets are now on sale for the dinner, with all details, including the full list of finalists, available on the Sport NSW website.
Tickets are on sale for the NSW Sports Awards Gala Dinner to be held at the elegant Curzon Hall on Thursday 23 February 2017.
Sport NSW is an independent member-based peak body representing New South Wales sport and the active recreation sector. It is supported by the Office of Sport.