16 November 2021

Finalists named for Canberra sport awards after a far-from-normal year

| James Coleman
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Mel Bingley

Stromlo Running Festival (SRF) race director Mel Bingley. Photo: Stromlo Running Festival (SRF).

The 2021 finalists in the ACT Government’s CBR Sport Awards – Canberra’s official and premier sporting awards – have been announced.

The awards name three finalists for each of the eight categories, including ‘Athlete of the Year’ and ‘the Minister for Sport and Recreation Award for Event Excellence’.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry said the number of nominations this year demonstrates the city’s passion and commitment to sport and recreation.

“While COVID-19 has continued to challenge Canberra’s sporting community, these awards are an opportunity to recognise the amazing goals that have still been achieved in 2021, including at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which provided us all with many opportunities to celebrate,” she said.

A total of 25 local athletes and organisations make the list across sports such as squash, rowing, rugby, cycling, basketball, hockey and more.

The Stromlo Running Festival (SRF) 2020 appears in the list for the Award for Event Excellence, alongside the 2020 Table Tennis Open by Table Tennis ACT and the 2021 Festival of Athletics by Little Athletics ACT/Athletics ACT.

Sports award finalists

The finalists for the Award for Event Excellence. Photo: Stromlo Running Festival.

Race director Mel Bingley said that SRF and trail running have been a way for athletes to stay healthy and connected throughout the pandemic.

“SRF, and trail running as a sport, are going from strength to strength. With over 50 per cent new attendance in 2020, it shows that the community has a real desire to be part of events like SRF.”

Finalists for the Award for Event Excellence are said to “set themselves apart from other events through their impact on the business of the organisation, high standard of delivery and resounding overall success”.

SRF 2020 – held on 21 and 22 November – was one of the first mass participation events to return to Australia after the nationwide lockdown, which saw over 8500-plus mass participation sporting events either cancelled or postponed. Taking a COVID-safe approach, the event attracted almost double the participation of 2019 with 1800 participants.

Stromlo Running Festival

The SRF provides sweeping views over Canberra nearly every step of the way. Photo: Stromlo Running Festival (SRF).

SRF’s unique selling point is providing an opportunity for runners of all abilities to ‘get off the road’ and challenge themselves on trails that take in sweeping views of Canberra, Black Mountain Tower, the National Arboretum, and the Brindabella ranges with three signature distances – 10 km, 30 km and 50 km.

It’s fitting that SRF is recognised after a period of tragedy, the event was established following the devastating 2003 Canberra fires as an opportunity for the community to “come together, get fit, be active, and celebrate our collective strength and resilience”.

SRF co-founder and marathon champion Rob de Castella says they are proud to have been named in the award as the ACT moves back to a sense of normality.

Winners for the CBR Sport Awards will be announced on 2 December via a live virtual event. The Minister for Sport and Recreation’s Award for Event Excellence includes a cash prize of $3000.

The award finalists are:

Athlete of the Year – Para Sport

  • Nikki Ayers – Rowing
  • Vanessa Low – Athletics
  • James Turner – Athletics

Athlete of the Year – Women’s Sport

  • Rebecca McConnell – Cycling, Mountain Bike
  • Kelsey-Lee Barber – Athletics
  • Laura Peel – Snowsports

Athlete of the Year – Men’s Sport

  • James Turner (also a para sport finalist) – Athletics
  • Andrew Charter – Hockey
  • Patty Mills – Basketball

Team of the Year

  • Cockatoos Senior Women – Orienteering
  • Brumbies – Rugby Union
  • Olympic Rowing Men’s Quadruple Scull – Rowing

Rising Star

  • Tom Green – AFL
  • Cameron Rogers – Cycling, Road
  • Madeline Vagg – Rowing
  • Jade Melbourne – Basketball

Minister for Sport and Recreation Award for Inclusion

  • Capital Football – Canberra United Wheelchair Football
  • Rowing ACT – Indoor Rowing Program at Alexander Maconochie Centre
  • Canberra Region Rugby League – Canberra Region Wheelchair Rugby League

Minister for Sport and Recreation Award for Innovation

  • Squash ACT – Online booking system at Woden Squash Centre
  • Vikings Cycling Club – Women’s novice track cycling program
  • Little Athletics ACT – Online participation program

Minister for Sport and Recreation Award for Event Excellence

  • Stromlo Running Festival – 2020 event
  • Table Tennis ACT – 2020 ACT Open
  • Little Athletics ACT/Athletics ACT – 2021 Festival of Athletics

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