The finalists for New Zealand’s pre-eminent sporting honours, the Westpac Halberg Awards, have been announced today.
It will be a competitive year at the annual event, now in its 50th year, after a bumper medal count at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Medallists are amongst the most popular names shortlisted, with rowing’s Mahe Drysdale, equestrian’s Andrew Nicholson and cycling’s Simon van Velthooven all up for Sportsman of the Year.
Richie McCaw, who has won Sportsman of the year for two years running, is again up for the award.
Female finalists may find it difficult to compete with Valerie Adams, who is up to defend her title of Sportswoman of the Year again after holding it for six consecutive years.
Other women in line for the title are canoeing Olympian Lisa Carrington, BMX racer Sarah Walker and golf’s Lydia Ko.
Ko, who is perhaps New Zealand’s most-talented sporting teenager, is also up for the Westpac Emerging Talent award after an excellent year.
The 15-year-old became the youngest woman ever to win a tournament on golf’s prestigious LPGA tour, winning the $300,000 top prize at the Canadian Open.
Olympians again dominate the Westpac Team of the Year title, with gold medallists Eric Murray and Hamish Bond listed alongside fellow golden boys Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen for the award.
Sailing medallists Jo Aleh and Powrie, alongside Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, are also in line for the award, with the All Blacks being the only non-Olympic team on the shortlist.
Swimming Paralympians have dominated the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year list, with Cameron Leslie, Mary Fisher and Sophie Pascoe all recognised after strong performances in 2012.
The Coach of the Year will be a battle of the water sports, with canoeing’s Gordon Walker against sailing’s Nathan Handley and rowing’s Richard Tonks and Calvin Ferguson.
The winners will be announced in an event on February 14 in Auckland’s Vector Arena, and will also be televised live on Sky Sport.