The award season is seemingly upon us. Not only is our Lauren Parker (Newcastle Triathlon Club) in contention for the Women’s Health Women in Sports ‘Comeback of the Year’ Award, which will air on Channel 7 on October 18, but the recently crowned paratriathlon world champion (PTWC) has also been nominated for an ‘Athlete of the Year’ award by Sport NSW.
Not only did the 30-year-old Newcastle native take out the gold medal last month in Lausanne, Switzerland, but she also finds herself in the driver’s seat en route to Tokyo 2020 as the top-ranked Paralympian in her division after a string of other first-place results.
However, the promising start to the season suffered its first setback when the third-ranked women’s wheelchair competitor in the world underwent spinal surgery in April. Parker courageously battled back and took third in the Yokohama ITU Paratriathlon Series (WPS) just six weeks later.
Despite the injury, Parker captured gold at the Oceania Championships, as well as two ITU Paratriathlon World Cups — Banyoles and Devonport. She also took home bronze at the Tokyo Paralympic Test Event in August.
"I think overall I'm still on a high and feeling super happy with producing the race of my career,” Parker told the Newcastle Herald days after her victory.
"The event in Lausanne was a good rehearsal for the Paralympics with all the main contenders racing. I'll definitely take a lot of confidence from this win, which is great leading into next season."
Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Parker’s story, is that infectious optimism is both remarkable and inspiring considering her young life was abruptly altered in the blink of an eye following a crippling collision with a guardrail two years ago.
The former swimmer and surf lifesaver’s elite triathlon career was tragically cut short when an early morning training ride ended in disaster after a crash at 45km/h left the then-28-year-old with broken ribs, a punctured lung, fractured scapula and pelvis, a broken back and severe spinal damage. After three months in the hospital and three months in rehab, Parker still has no feeling from the waist down and has been given just a one per cent chance of ever walking again.
Parker is not alone in her nomination for the Sport NSW awards set to be announced at the NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony to be held at The Star Sydney on Monday, 18 November.
Joining Parker is Triathlon NSW triathlete Lorcan Redmond (Maitland Triathlon Club), who captured the silver medal in the men’s junior division at the World Championships in September.
"The most impressive thing as a coach is that in the seven days prior to the event Lorcan became sick and not capable of training,” said Triathlon Australia High Performance head coach Dan Atkins of the 19-year-old, who is up for the ‘Young Athlete of the Year’ award. “To see him overcome not only a severe bike crash but also a sickness that could have prevented him even putting his foot on the start line shows how courageous this athlete is.
“I for one look very much forward to the start of his career as an elite athlete and cant wait to see how far he can get towards his ultimate dream of one day representing Australia at the Olympics.”
Rounding out the trio of nominees is TNSW Operations Manager, Chris Cunningham, an employee of Triathlon NSW, with over four years under his belt.
“Chris is an integral member of our team,” said TNSW Executive Director Adam Wicks of the ‘Administrator of the Year’ nominee. “Providing direct support to the CEO and managing the relationship between TNSW and our club network, providing best practice governance structures and supporting the volunteers who run our clubs.
“He also created the TNSW Interclub Series, now in its second successful year, which along with a significant amount of other wonderful work, has resulted in a increase in TNSW Membership of 2.35 per cent in clubs. This increase has bucked the trend after a three year decline”.
For more information on Sport NSW and the NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony, please click here: https://www.sportnsw.com.au/news/2019-nsw-sports-awards-finalists-announced/
Or for more information on the Women’s Health Women In Sport Awards, which airs on Channel 7 on October 18, please click here: https://www.womenshealth.com.au/voting-women-in-sport-award…
For more information on the TNSW Interclub Series, please click here: http://nswtriathlonclubseries.com
Finally, anyone interested in joining or renewing their Triathlon Australia membership can kindly click here: http://www.triathlon.org.au/Membership/Annual_Membership.htm
2019 NSW SPORTS AWARDS FINALISTS
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR WITH A DISABILITY
- Erik Horrie (Rowing)
- Lauren Parker (Para Triathlon)
- Amanda Reid (Cycling)
- Oscar Stubbs (Blind Sports)
- Tiffany Thomas-Kane (Swimming)
- Kelly Wren (Tennis)
YOUNG ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
- Kennedy Cooper (Diving)
- Shyla Heal (Basketball)
- Lorcan Redmond (Triathlon)
- Naomi Scott (Surf Life Saving)
- Amy Watson (Indoor Skydiving)
- Matthew Wilson (Swimming)
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR
- Craig Beed (Hockey)
- Chris Cunningham (Triathlon)
- Michelle Hanley (Football)
- Nikki Horton (Netball)
- Peter Tate (Paddle & Commonwealth Games)
- David Trodden ( Rugby League)