The strength of women’s sport at the NSW Institute of Sport has emerged with two-time paddling Olympian Jessica Fox and double para triathlon World Cup event winner Lauren Parker capturing the Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Year with a Disability awards at the NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony at Rosehill Gardens this week.
The gala dinner also saw netball legend and NSWIS Most Outstanding athlete Liz Ellis AO presented with The Waratah, which recognises outstanding long-term contribution to sport in NSW beyond the sporting field and beyond any single year. First awarded last year, The Waratah recognises Ellis’ leadership in sport, her passion for NSW sport and her desire to achieve broader community outcomes.
Jess Fox, the first paddler to finish the entire paddling World Cup season undefeated, joins Ian Thorpe and Layne Beachley as a three-time winner of NSW’s Athlete of the Year.
Fox enjoyed a stellar World Cup year winning five C1 gold medals plus three gold and a silver in the K1. The NSWIS Scholarship Holder emerged victorious in a hotly contested final vote ahead of Australian rugby league captain Boyd Cordner, surfer Stephanie Gilmore, Winter Olympian Matthew Graham (NSWIS), Test cricketer Ellyse Perry, high jumper Brandon Starc (NSWIS) and diver Melissa Wu (NSWIS).
In her first year as a para triathlete and a mere 12 months after a serious bike accident, Lauren Parker won two gold, three silvers and a bronze medal in the International Triathlon Union’s paratriathlon World Cup Series plus bronze at the Commonwealth Games. The NSWIS athlete was also a finalist for The Don award recently presented by Sport Australia.
NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, said Fox and Parker were exceptional champions and role models.
“Jessica and Lauren epitomise why NSW’s is Australia’s premier sporting state. Their achievements over the past 12 months were simply remarkable and they are worthy category Athletes of the Year winners,” said Mr Ayres.
“When you consider the quality and success of the other Award finalists, it further highlights their outstanding accomplishments. It also illustrates the strength of NSW sport, its pathway programs and athlete support systems.”
Fox and Parker were among six members of #TeamNSWIS who were honoured at the NSW Sports Awards.
Louise Sauvage OAM (NSWIS), was named Coach of the Year after guiding wheelchair racer Madison de Rozario (NSWIS) to double Commonwealth Games gold medal success.
Junior World Champion track cyclist, Tom Cornish (NSWIS), was named Young Athlete of the Year and swimmer, Tim Hodge (NSWIS), was named Young Athlete of the Year with a Disability after a capturing a pair of Commonwealth Games silver medals in the 100m freestyle (S9) and 100m breaststroke (SB8).
Sport NSW Chairperson, Joseph La Posta, congratulated all award winners and finalists.
“They have all shown great dedication and commitment towards attaining their goals in sport. They have done this with a high sense of enjoyment while demonstrating great respect to their fellow competitors,” he said.