2019 Year in Review – Sport

Amy McPhillips 16 December 2019

RiotACT’s 2019 Year in Review series takes a look back at some of the most popular stories over the last 12 months. To kick things off, we’re recapping the year in sport – from grassroots local competitions to the achievements of Canberra’s major sporting teams and sports stars.

In 2019, RiotACT’s team covered a wide and diverse range of topics including women’s baseball, roller derby, mountain biking, junior cricket, powerlifting, speedway, figure skating, kickboxing and many others.

In a year that saw the Canberra Raiders come tantalisingly close to victory in the NRL grand final, this year’s top articles featured several about the Green Machine. But in the number one spot in 2019 was Tim Gavel’s tribute to a local sporting legend who died in July, leaving the sporting community and many Canberrans saddened by his sudden death.

What were the standout sporting moments of 2019 for you? Let us know in the comments.

10. Career-ending injury no match for Nikki Ayers’ Olympic ambitions

Nikki Ayers

Nikki Ayers winning the Interstate PR3 Women’s Single. Photo: Rowing Australia.

Nikki Ayers still remembers the pain as she writhed in agony after dislocating her knee, tearing multiple ligaments, and severing a major artery and the main nerve in her right knee, but now the Canberra athlete has her eyes on Tokyo in 2020. Tim Gavel caught up with the determined 28-year-old to hear more of her remarkable story.

9. Australian figure skating loses a legend with the passing of Canberra’s Reg Park

Reg Park and Miriam Manzano

Reg Park coaching Miriam Manzano. Photos: Supplied.

In October, Tim Gavel shared the sad news that Canberra’s Reg Park, a global megastar in figure-skating and much-loved local ice-skating coach, had died. The impact Reg had on the Canberra figure skating community is almost beyond the capabilities of a column to quantify, such was his incredible influence on the sport, he wrote.

8. Meet Canberra’s next generation of sports stars in taekwondo, baseball and touch football

Avalon and Giuliana with coach, Danny Crkvencic. Photo: Supplied.

Avalon Frezza (left) and Giuliana Masiello (right) with their coach, Danny Crkvencic. Photos: Supplied.

Often when looking at young sportspeople coming through the ranks, the focus is on high profile sports such as cricket and the football codes, wrote Tim Gavel in May. So he set out to meet some up-and-coming champions in sports that don’t gain as much public attention. His story about some of Canberra’s young, skilled and committed emerging athletes kicked off this year’s top ten.

7. Croker’s first coach quietly confident Raiders will prevail

Jarrod Croker playing league at nine

Jarrod Croker around nine-years-of-age, running with the ball on his fingertips. Photos: Croker family.

In the first of several high-ranking stories about the Canberra Raiders, John Thistleton spoke with the excited family of Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker ahead of the NRL grand final. With their home town of Goulburn aflutter in Raiders flags and streamers, the family was preparing to set off for Sydney for the game of the season in two 22-seater buses, bursting with excitement and pride.

6. Table of truth tells it like it is after NRL grand final

Top Pub locals

The Top Pub’s ‘table of truth’ after the NRL grand final: (from left) Jeremy, Paul, Craig, publican Mathew Griffin, Roosters’ supporter Steven, Daniel and Matt. Photo: Michael Weaver.

In October, the NRL grand final didn’t deliver the result Canberra Raiders fans were hoping for. The Monday after the big game, Michael Weaver headed down to Queanbeyan’s Top Pub with other fans and joined the Table of Truth to talk about what went wrong.

5. Government launches review into the future of lawn bowls in the ACT

Lawn bowls

ACT Government has launched a review of lawn bowls in the ACT to assist with future planning considerations for the sport. Photo: George Tsotsos.

In May, the ACT Government launched a review into the future of lawn bowls in the territory after four facilities were forced to shut down over the last decade. Lachlan Roberts wrote that lawn bowls had been a target for developers over the years, and that there were rising concerns about the long-term future of clubs across the nation’s capital.

4. ‘Six again’: the refereeing blunder that cost the Raiders

The 'six again' moment

This match may be remembered as the “six again” grand final. Photo: Screen grab (Nine).

Canberra Raiders players and fans have every right to feel gutted in the wake of the 2019 grand final loss, wrote Tim Gavel after a disappointing result. He said that in days after the match, the conversations on the train and in restaurants were all about the six again ruling, which cast a pall over the game when the focus should have been on the performance of two teams who had just fought an epic grand final.

3. Five reasons why the Raiders will make the NRL finals in 2019

Josh Hodgson and Jarrod Croker

Josh Hodgson will co-captain the Raiders in 2019, alongside Jarrod Croker. Photo: Raiders’ website.

Early in the year, Tim Gavel confidently predicted that the Canberra Raiders would make the finals in 2019, and he turned out to be spot-on. Here’s what Tim wrote back in January, when he shared his thoughts on why the Raiders would perform well in 2019.

2. If ever there was momentum to justify building a new stadium in Civic, it is now

Raiders supporters at ANZ Stadium

The sea of green at the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Support for the Canberra Raiders is at an all-time high, wrote Tim Gavel in the midst of this year’s football season. And with the expectation that crowds for Raiders home games next season will be higher in the wake of the team’s performance in 2019, it’s the perfect time to talk about building a new stadium in Civic, he said.

1. Death of ACT Rowing head coach Nick Garratt shocks community

Nick Garratt

Nick Garratt (1947-2019). Photo: Rowing Australia.

Rowing legend Nick Garratt, who died suddenly in July, was an extraordinary person, wrote Tim Gavel. His tribute to the well-known Canberran was the most-read sporting story on The RiotACT in 2019.

Nick was one of Australia’s most experienced coaches, having been involved in four Olympic campaigns. In recent years he was omnipresent as the head coach of Rowing ACT as well as leading the ACT Academy of Sport’s High-Performance program.

Join us again tomorrow as we reveal the top community stories that had you talking in 2019.


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