The prestigious Women’s Health Women in Sport Awards recognise and celebrate Australia’s female athletes – from grassroots through to elite professional level – and their achievements over the past 12 months. This year we are honouring some truly outstanding sportswomen who have performed outstandingly within their respective sports.
Award: Local sporting champion
Criteria: We salute the grassroots' greatest – this woman competes and gives back to her sport at a local level. It’s time to give her some recognition. She’s well-known around her local community, not just for her performance, but for supporting others in her sport. She exemplifies the spirit and ideals of a true sportswoman both on and off the field. She is not necessarily pulling a wage from her sport and may be in other full-time employment.
Amanda Reid, Paralympic Swimming and Cycling
Anneliese Rubie, Athletics
Beth Whaanga, Rugby Union
Melissa Perrine, Para-alpine Skiing
Victorian Roller Derby All Stars, Roller Derby
Wendy Snowball, Mountain Biking
Award: One to Watch
Criteria: You might not have heard of this rising star, but you’re going to be hearing a whole lot more of her. In the past 12 months, this woman has made outstanding – and headline-worthy – achievements in her sport. She’s garnered significant media attention due to her win(s) and is tipped by many to be “the next big thing”. She’s already won awards/accolades/state titles at a junior/amateur level at least. This sportswoman is tipped by her teammates and the general public to be a big player in Australian sport over the next few years.
Ariarne Titmus, Swimming
Chloe Molloy, AFLW
Ellie Carpenter, Football
Jakara Anthony, Freestyle Skiing
Lucy Bartholomew, Ultrarunning
Sabre Norris, Skateboarding/Surfing
Award: Leadership Legend
Criteria: This woman has shown top leadership skills while skippering a team to success. She’s displayed exceptional leadership in her game/competition/race/season, which in turn has led to her team’s outstanding success on a national or international level. She possesses leadership qualities that go beyond the realm of her responsibilities of team captain/senior team member. She’s helped increase the profile of women in sport and has shown exceptional sportswomanship both on and off the field. This athlete has consistently performed at a high level every time she has competed. Her performance and off-field actions will leave a lasting legacy on her sport.
Ashleigh Hewson, Rugby Union
Belinda Snell, Basketball
Harriet Brown, Ironwoman
Lydia Lassila, Aerial Skiing
Sam Kerr, Football
Corporal Sonya Newman, Swimming, Invictus
Award: Moment of the Year
Criteria: This all-time best female sporting moment has sent the country into a frenzy. This award is given to a moment in play OR as the result of a single game or season. The team or individual had an extraordinary victory in their game/competition/race/season that got Australia talking on social media, conventional media and in the local pubs around the nation. This moment changed the perception of the team or individual, and in turn, the sport (ie, empowered women and/or put their chosen sport on the social media agenda).
Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings, Women’s 10,000 metres, 2018 Commonwealth Games: In an act of sportsmanship that defined the Gold Coast Games, three Aussie runners who’d just competed in the women’s 10,000 metres stayed on the track waiting for Lineo Chaka, from the southern African nation of Lesotho, to run the last few laps at Carrara Stadium on her own. As Lineo approached the finish line, with the almost-capacity crowd urging her on, the three Australians cheered the 30-year-old on, encouraging her to run as strongly as she could. Once Lineo finally crossed the line, she was met with hugs from Celia, Madeline and Eloise. For Celia, who finished sixth in a personal best time of 31:50.75, the show of support came naturally. “We're there for each other and we're out there having a go,” Celia said. “So, it was lovely to stand out there with those girls in a bit of a show of, I hope, Aussie sportsmanship. All of us just went out there hoping to do the best we could on the day. I'd like to think if I had that day, there would be someone standing on the track for me.”
First Women’s State of Origin match: A record-breaking crowd made the trip to North Sydney Oval in June to watch players from NSW and Queensland go head-to-head in the first-ever women’s State of Origin match. Some 6824 fans braved chilly conditions to witness history in the making, with the NRL reporting it was the biggest ever crowd to attend a women’s rugby league match. A further 689,931 people tuned in on television. The support of the crowd may have given the home team the edge they needed, with NSW ultimately proving too strong for the visitors, winning 16-10. The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive, with one NRL fan calling it “the best advertisement for rugby league you may ever see”. Fans also latched on to the story of NSW captain Maddie Studdon, who revealed post-game that she lost her job because of her dedication to the sport. “We’re playing for this jersey and it just shows we’re committed to this and whatever is thrown at us, we’re ready to take it,” Maddie told reporters. “And if it’s to lose a job, it’s to lose a job.” Yet another spine-tingling moment attached to this truly historic match.
Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon, Shayna Jack, 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay World Record, 2018 Commonwealth Games: If the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre had a roof, it would have lifted off, such was the noise as a revitalised Cate Campbell led the Aussie team home in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay on the opening night of the 2018 swim program. And if there was any doubt about her return after the disappointment of Rio, Cate smashed it out of the park, posting the fastest women's freestyle relay split in history as the dominant Australians demolished their own 4 x 100m freestyle world record. These four incredible athletes left the field in their wake to hit the wall in 3:30.05s, lowering their previous mark of 3:30.65s. By the time Cate hit the water, her race was against the world record line. She steadily mowed it down and split an unheard of 51s flat, the quickest any woman has been in a relay scenario. Of the spine-tingling moment, Cate said: “This is the stuff of dreams and to have that become a reality will be something I never take for granted ever again. I think as perfectionists we can always look for the next thing and we don't stop and appreciate the incredible moments when they happen and this is one of those rare incredible moments.”
Liz Cambage, new WNBA record, Dallas Wings v New York Liberty: Not only did this Melbourne-raised basketball sensation set the court on fire when her US team, the Dallas Wings, faced off against New York Liberty on July 17, 2018, she made WNBA history by scoring a record 53 points in a single game. This outstanding achievement, secured minutes from the end of the fourth quarter by a three-pointer that looked almost effortless, broke Riquna Williams’ 2013 WNBA record of 51 points. Factor in Liz’s 10 rebounds and five blocks in the same game, and her performance became one that hadn’t been seen since Michael Jordan’s time on the court – he’s the most recent NBA player to post at least 50 points and 10 rebounds on 75 per cent shooting back in 1996. Yes, that’s two decades ago. Liz lead the Wings to a 104-87 victory in front of the roaring crowd, outscoring the Liberty starting line-up by an incredible 10 points. “It’s pretty big,” the 6ft 8” star told a reporter after the game. “I’ve had big numbers in China, I’ve had big numbers in Australia, I’ve had a lot of people say I could never have big numbers here in the WNBA. I guess this game was for y’all.” A week later, Liz enjoyed her WNBA All-star debut, finishing the game with an impressive dunk. She’s also a passionate and vocal advocate for the treatment of players in the WNBA, recently saying, “We are women and we are passionate and we are playing hard. Let us play our game and try not to soften it because it’s making it boring and, right now, it makes me feel like they are trying to make it more ladylike. That’s not how we play. We play like fierce women.”
Ellyse Perry, Double Century, Inaugural Day-Night Ashes Test: This sporting sensation created one of the most memorable moments of last year's Women's Ashes series when she notched up a phenomenal double century during the inaugural day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval. The innings, aside from featuring brilliant stroke play and placement, marked the highest individual score by an Australian in Women’s Tests, including a record-breaking 213 not out. It also marked the third highest score ever, behind Pakistan’s Kiran Baluch (242) and India’s Mithali Raj (214). Since then, she’s led the Sydney Sixers to the top of the WBBL ladder, setting up a semi-final clash with Adelaide Strikers in late January. Both tournaments have seen a mix of TV broadcasts and live streaming, meaning the excitement around women’s cricket has never been higher. “Through TV coverage and local grassroots programs, kids will be exposed to more female sporting role models,” Perry says. “Seeing more women’s sport on TV is a huge deal for me and last year’s Women’s Ashes spurred huge interest in female cricket. I think the more opportunities kids have to be inspired by female athletes, the more likely they will be to pursue sport… and for me, to see young women follow their sporting passion makes it all worth it.”
Jessica Fox, C1 win, ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup: “Jess Fox, that’s how it’s done,” said one commentator as the world champion flew through the rapids. A faultless 106.34-second performance on the C1 course at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Slovakia saw Fox win the gold medal by an incredible 7.62 seconds in cold and wet conditions. Friends and family ran alongside her, witnessing the number one athlete drawing on the excitement and noise of the crowd as she navigated the water. “I could hear it at the start, I could hear it in the middle, I could hear the Aussies and the crowd,” she said. “It was such an awesome run.” What made the run even sweeter? It was in her canoe that had been stolen from an Australian training centre earlier this year, which was thankfully returned to the athlete. The C1 win saw Fox celebrating her second gold of the competition, after she topped the podium in the K1 event days before. Both add to Fox’s success streak, with her winning six straight World Cup events in 21 days in June. It’s an awe-inspiring achievement and one that puts her in great stead as she prepares to go for her first Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.
Award: Comeback of the Year
Criteria: This athlete has achieved the seemingly impossible, coming back from a physical, mental or emotional challenge to accomplish a sporting high. She’s triumphed over adversity to achieve a huge win while competing at a national/international level in the past 12 months. She’s been open about the challenges she has faced, and used her experience to inspire the broader community to achieve their own goals. While displaying sporting excellence, she’s also encouraged conversation about an important issue and conducted herself with grace in all areas of her life.
Anja Stridsman, Boxing
Ashleigh Barty, Tennis
Cate Campbell, Swimming
Ellia Green, Rugby 7s
Laura Geitz, Netball
Melissa Wu, Diving
Award: A-Team of the Year
Criteria: These female athletes have kicked some serious butt in the past year. This team has shown significant improvement or complete dominance in their sport over the past 12 months. They’ve performed at the highest standard throughout the competition period. As a group, they’ve displayed exceptional sportswomanship both on and off the field. Aside from performance, the team’s off-field contribution should be considered.
Australian Women’s Cricket Team, Cricket
Australian Women’s Fours Lawn Bowls Team, Lawn Bowls
Australian Jillaroos, Rugby League
Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Volleyball
Aussie 7s, Rugby 7s
Award: Women’s Health Sportswoman Of The Year
Criteria: The absolute best of the best: the most outstanding sports performer in the past year. This award goes to the athlete who has achieved outstanding results at an elite level in her performances at an international/national level. The nominee must have displayed exceptional sportswomanship at all times while competing. She’s made a significant contribution to sport as a leader and role model, and is an exemplary ambassador for her sport. Advocates for women in sport at all times, competes in the highest level of competition and has inspired the nation with her wins in the past 12 months.
Cate Campbell, Swimming
Madison de Rozario, Para-athletics
Sam Kerr, Football
Stephanie Gilmore, Surfing
Stephanie Morton, Track Cycling
Tia-Clair Toomey, CrossFit and Weightlifting
Who do you think should take out this year's Women's Health Sportswoman of the Year? Vote now.
Don't forget to vote for your favourite sportswomen for your chance to win tickets for you and a friend to this year's award.
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This article was published and provided by Australian Women's Health.