by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors stole the spotlight at the 2012 Australian Institute of Sports Awards in Canberra after Olympic and World champion Tom Slingsby was named the Male Athlete of the Year by the prestigious award-giving sports body. Australian sailing was also honored as the Program of the Year for the third time in five years, proving its knack of producing elite sailors for international competition.
AIS Male Athlete of the Year Tom Slingsby
Australia’s sailors have again been recognised for their successful year, winning three major awards at the 2012 Australian Institute of Sport Awards in Canberra.
London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist and five time Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby was named AIS Athlete of the Year, alongside swimmer Alicia Coutts.
Slingsby created history at London 2012, winning Australia’s first ever individual sailing gold medal, capping off a year where he also won two Laser World Championships.
The Australian Sailing Team’s coaches were recognised for the role they have played in developing the group of successful sailors, together being named Coach of the Year.
The group includes London 2012 Olympic Games gold medal winning coaches Victor Kovalenko, Michael Blackburn and Emmett Lazich, silver medal winning coach Euan McNicol and Paralympic gold medal winning coach Tim Lowe.
With London 2012 only just behind us the group is already focused on delivering success at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Sailing was also named Program of the Year, the third time in the past five years that the sport was recognised with the award.
Yachting Australia High Performance Director Peter Conde said that the AIS has played an important role in the success of Australia’s sailors.
'The AIS is key to the continued success of our sailors and we have a close working relationship that continues to deliver results on the world stage,' said Conde. 'Awards like these are a great recognition for the hard work that our athletes, coaches and support team put in every day, both on and off the water.
'Tom has had a great year in the Laser class, winning two World Championships and an Olympic gold medal, and alongside Alicia Coutts is a deserving recipient of the Athlete of the Year Award,' he said. 'It is a tough call for the judges when they are faced with a group of such deserving recipients across a range of sports including four other Olympic sailors who each won Olympic Gold and two world championships within this period. It was great to see our coaches receive public recognition for the central role that they played in developing this group of world beating sailors.'
Double Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page was a finalist in the Athlete of the Year Award alongside Slingsby, with three sailing crews finalists in the Team of the Year category. 49er crew Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, 470 sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page and Skud 18 gold medallists Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch were all finalists, with the K4 1000 kayak team of Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear winning.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit the Australian Sailing Team website.