NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship holders have won an incredible eight of the 14 awards presented at the 2022 Paralympic Australia Awards evening with athletics queen Madison de Rozario OAM and snowboard star Ben Tudhope, named Australia’s Paralympians of the Year for 2020 and 2022.
“On behalf of NSWIS, I want to congratulate all of the athletes that were both nominated and awarded top honours at the 2022 Paralympic Australia Awards evening,” NSWIS CEO Prof Kevin Thompson said.
“For NSWIS athletes to take home eight of our 14 awards is a phenomenal accomplishment and one I am immensely proud of. This recognition demonstrates the depth of the Paralympic programs at the Institute and these achievements reflect countless hours of work from both athletes and staff who work tirelessly year round,” Kevin concluded.
Madison claimed the highest honour in Australian Para sport after her heroics at the Tokyo 2020 Games, her fourth Paralympics, where she won the marathon (T54) and 800 metres (T53) and took bronze in the 1500 metres (T54).
Madison, a three-time world champion, had not previously won Paralympic gold, but established herself as a global superstar of wheelchair racing at Tokyo before taking out the famous New York Marathon in November last year.
She was earlier named 2020 Female Athlete of the Year, completing an exceptional stage in the 28-year-old’s career, which began when she represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games aged just 14.
“The Paralympics is the largest platform for people with disabilities and you want to do everything that you can with that platform,” Madison said.
“That is one of the incredible things that comes with being part of this Paralympic team. We prioritise the Paralympic movement and the impact it’s had on the 20 percent of Australians with disabilities is unreal. Honestly, it’s a privilege to be part of that.”
Madison becomes the fifth woman to be named Paralympian of the Year since the prize was established in 1994. The inaugural winner was wheelchair racing legend and NSWIS Coach Louise Sauvage, who also won in 1996 and 1998. Louise now coaches Madison and was awarded the Coach of the Year Award for her outstanding guidance of the track champion.
Sauvage was awarded in her own right during the evening, taking home the 2020 Coach Of The Year award.
Madison also coupled her Paralympian of the Year award with the 2020 Female Athlete of the Year title while recently-retired four-time Paralympian in alpine skiing Melissa Perrine and her sighted guide Bobbi Kelly won the 2022 Female Athlete of the Year award.
Snowboard star Ben Tudhope was named Paralympian of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year for 2022 after he won Australia’s only medal at Beijing, bronze in the snowboard cross SB-LL2.
“I’m just a guy who loves snowboarding and wants to progress my skills as a snowboarder,” Ben said.
“I guess this is what comes along with it because I’m so determined and so motivated to actually continue to progress at something I love doing.
“To grow into someone who fell in love with the Paralympic community as well, and to put those things together into one, I really found who I am. This accolade for me is up there with one of the highest achievements that I ever had.”
Shortly before the Games, the Australian Paralympic Winter Team co-captain at Beijing, claimed the prestigious Crystal Globe as the overall SB-LL2 snowboard cross season Champion and the Crystal Globe as the most successful Para snowboard athlete across all disciplines.
Josh Hanlon (alpine skiing) took out the 2022 Rookie Of The Year prize after having announced his arrival as a potential future champion in sit-skiing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games with a sixth placing in the slalom and 11th in the giant slalom.
“It’s been a crazy few years, the whole introduction to the Paralympic world, Paralympic skiing, then getting to Europe, getting across to China – it’s been an unreal time,” 24 year old Hanlon said.
Para-cyclist Stuart Jones won the Uncle Kevin Coombs Award for the spirit of the Games after he paused during his road race at Tokyo 2020 to encourage South Africa’s Toni Mould, who was struggling during the women’s event. The award is named after Kevin Coombs, who competed at the five Games, including the first in Rome in 1960, and became Australia’s first Indigenous Paralympian.
“I’ve never seen what I did in Tokyo as anything special,” Jones said. “It was just that I saw another athlete who I thought needed the encouragement. That’s all I did – I just encouraged.
“It’s me paying back what others have given me since my accident. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have the help and the encouragement of others around me, my coaches, and the Australian team.”
To round out the evening, Michael Milton (alpine skiing) and Kurt Fearnley (athletics) were both inducted into the Hall of Fame following long and very successful careers.
Thirteen-time Paralympic medallist Kurt Fearnley, competed in wheelchair racing at five Paralympic Games between 2000 and 2016 while Alpine ski racing great Michael Milton, won six gold, three silver and two bronze medals to become Australia’s greatest Paralympic winter athlete.
The full suite of NSWIS awardees included:
- 2022 Rookie Of The Year – Josh Hanlon (alpine skiing)
- 2020 Coach Of The Year – Louise Sauvage (athletics)
- Uncle Kevin Coombs Medallist – Stuart Jones (cycling)
- 2020 Female Athlete Of The Year – Madi De Rozario (athletics)
- 2022 Female Athlete Of The Year – Melissa Perrine (alpine skiing)
- 2022 Male Athlete Of The Year – Ben Tudhope (snowboarding)
- Hall Of Fame inductees – Michael Milton (alpine skiing), Kurt Fearnley (athletics)
- 2020 Paralympian Of The Year – Madison de Rozario (athletics)
- 2022 Paralympian Of The Year – Ben Tudhope (snowboarding)
Article and image courtesy of Paralympics Australia