Australia’s queen of Kona Mirinda Carfrae has dominated the major awards at tonight’s Triathlon Australia Celebration of Champions Dinner on the Gold Coast for the second year running.
The 34-year Carfrae achieved the extraordinary feat of back-to-back Ironman World Championship victories in Hawaii in 2014 after breaking through to capture her first crown in 2013.
And it was again judged to be the most outstanding performance of the year by an Australian female triathlete for the second time.
Adding to her performance award Carfrae, who was unable to attend the night, was also awarded with the prestigious Athlete’s Athlete of Year Award from a select group of nominees – ITU trio Emma Jackson, Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie.
Triathlon Australia also recognised Carfrae’s Ironman World Championship win alongside; Sally Pilbeam (WA) who won the ITU Paratriathlon World Championship; Gillian Backhouse (QLD) the ITU Under 23 Duathlon World Champion and Jacob Birtwhistle (TAS) ITU Junior Duathlon World Championship as well as the 19 age group athletes who won World Championships throughout the year.
Royle, who broke through for his first ITU podium in Auckland and won bronze in the Teams Relay at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, was awarded the Outstanding Male Athlete of the year.
The Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award went to Backhouse from an impressive list – Jake Birtwhistle (TAS), Calvin Quirk (QLD) and Jaz Hedgeland (WA) – after a year that included her Duathlon world title, silver in the Under 23 ITU World Championship; 1st Oceania Triathlon Championships and 1st in the Chengdu World Cup.
Her coach and coach of Commonwealth Games triathletes Emma Jackson and Dan Wilson, QAS head coach Stephen Moss was awarded the High Performance Coach of the Year while Mike Gee from WA Pursuit Coaching was named Age Group Coach of the Year.
In what was an emotional night, Triathlon Australia paid tribute to former legend and Hall of Famer Jackie Gallagher, who passed away last year.
Gallagher, a former ITU World Champion, board member, high performance manager, coach, event commentator and triathlon trailblazer was honoured at Saturday’s World Triathlon Series race on the Gold Coast.
The enormity of her influence on the sport was acknowledged when the No 1 spot was left open as a tribute to Jackie, with the transition rack displaying FAIRWEATHER, AUS #1.
Jackie’s husband, Olympic archery gold medallist from Sydney, Simon Fairweather, made the Hall of Fame presentation to latest inductee, Sydney Olympian Nicole Hackett, who was joined on stage by fellow Hall of Famers Miles Stewart, Emma Carney and Loretta Harrop.
Hackett joins her fellow Sydney Olympians Harrop, Michellie Jones and Stewart as well as the late Jackie Fairweather, Carney, Brad Bevan, Stephen Foster and Louise Mackinlay as Triathlon Australia’s 10th Hall of Famer.
Hackett was one of the modern day stars of the sport in the build up to 2000 when triathlon made its spectacular Olympic debut in and around Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House.
The 2000 ITU World Champion, hailing from the NSW Central Coast, had burst onto the scene in 1994 after transferring her skills from surf lifesaving to triathlon, claiming junior gold at the 1997 Perth World Championships, and again in 1998.
She maintained this momentum as she moved into the women’s senior ranks, winning the Formula One series in early 1999.
She was the first woman to cross the finish line, claiming the senior World Championship in 2000 earning her a place on the Sydney 2000 Olympic team.
Hackett reached the start line of the Olympic triathlon and with Harrop attempted to enact their race from the front strategy but the tight corners and looped course limited their ability to create a substantial break, but both remained in the lead pack and Hackett held on to finish ninth.
Hackett qualified for the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games triathlon and on that occasion she was the first Australian woman home, and finished on the podium, taking home a well deserved bronze medal.
Triathlon Australia also recognised four Legends of the Sport - Marc Dragon, Jan Wanklyn, Greg Reddan and Kevin Ferguson while popular long-standing race director Ken Baggs with a Triathlon Australia Services To The Sport Award.
Dragon spread his wings from tennis to triathlon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and became the king of the first Ironman races in Australia in the early 80s – winning the prestigious 1985 Triple M Triathlon.
Reddan, the former Surf Lifesaving Ironman from Freshwater, went on to become the first Australian to compete the Hawaiian Ironman and for many years his 7th was Australia’s best ever performance.
Fergusson contested his first triathlon in 1992 and in 2009 won the clean sweep of Ironman, Olympic Distance, Long Distance and ITU Aquathon but in 2014 he completed “Iron 5 for 55” – setting records and competing and amazing five Ironman races to raise funds for cancer.
Similarly Jan Wanklyn delivered for the girls – a pioneer long course specialist, putting the Great lakes Ultra Distance event on the map that became Ironman Australia and she wet on to win the Ironman World Series.
And long serving ITU vice president Bill Walker joins a who’s who of the sport after being bestowed with the latest Life Membership of Triathlon Australia.
Meanwhile the John Ison Award for technical officials went to the ACT’s Gai Webster and the Rob George Award for Technical officials went to Brian Hinton (VIC) and David Wilkinson (SA).
Baggs is synonymous with Ironman Australia as its popular race director and became the face of Ironman in Australia and a key part of the iconic tradition that evolved at Forster on the BSW mid north coast.
The Full list of 2015 Award winners:
CHRIS HEWITT EMERGING ATHLETE AWARD: Gillian Backhouse (QLD)
INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR AWARD – MALE: Aaron Royle (NSW)
INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR AWARD – FEMALE: Mirinda Carfrae (QLD)
ATHLETES ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Mirinda Carfrae (QLD)
HIGH PERFORMANCE COACH OF THE YEAR: Stephen Moss (QAS)
AGE GROUP COACH AWARD OF THE YEAR (2014): Mike Gee, WA, Pursuit Coaching
JOHN ISON AWARD – TECHNICAL: Gai Webster (ACT)
ROB GEORGE AWARD – TECHNICAL: Brian Hinton (VIC), David Wilkinson (SA)
HALL OF FAME: Nicole Hackett (NSW)
LEGENDS: Greg Reddan (QLD), Marc Dragon (NSW), Jan Wanklyn (NSW), Kevin Fergusson (SA).
SERVICE TO SPORT AWARD: Ken Baggs
LIFE MEMBERSHIP: Bill Walker