A shortlist of 10 athletes across eight sports have earned
nomination for the 2017 WAIS Athlete of the Year award following elite
performances at benchmark competition over the past 12 months.
Two former winners return to the shortlist in 2017,
including reigning WAIS Athlete of the Year Sam Welsford, with the prize set to
be presented at next month’s WAIS Annual Awards at the Pan Pacific Perth.
2017 has seen WA talent excel in World Championship competition,
with this year’s shortlist including four athletes who earn nomination for the
Institute’s top athlete prize for the first time.
Six women and four men make up the top 10, whilst Welsford
at 21 years of age, is the youngest star on the list.
The nominees for the 2017 WAIS Athlete of the Year are:
- Sarah Edmiston (ATHLETICS)
Competing at a first IPC World Championships for Australia,
thrower Sarah Edmiston collected a bronze medal in the F44 discus as part of an
Australian Flame team that returned 28 podium performances in total. Edmiston
threw 33.80m for third place and was also seventh in the shot put in a fine
After a domestic season that saw her win two national K4
titles, paddler Jaime Roberts represented Australia at the 2017 World
Championships in the Czech Republic where she partnered South Australian Cat
McArthur to qualify for the finals of the K2 200m and K2 1000m events. Roberts
also collected a World Cup silver medal in the K2 200m in Serbia as she
continues her maturation as one of the country’s elite female sprint talents.
Cameron Meyer completed a stunning return to track cycling
at this year’s World Championships in Hong Kong coming away with three medals. Meyer
was part of the gold medal winning Australian team pursuit squad and backed
that up to win an eighth career rainbow jersey in the points race. The 29
year-old then partnered Callum Scotson to finish second in the Madison, which
will become an Olympic event in Tokyo in 2020. Meyer has twice before won the
WAIS Athlete of the Year title, and is in contention to make history at WAIS as
no athlete has ever won the prize on three occasions.
Reigning WAIS Athlete of the Year Sam Welsford was an
ever-present in the Australian men’s team pursuit squad as they retained their
world title crown in dramatic fashion over New Zealand in the gold medal ride
at the 2017 Track World Championships in Hong Kong. Australia had seen an early
lead dissipate heading into the final kilometre of the race, before Welsford
stepped up and rode extended turns at the front as Australia broke New Zealand’s
resistance to re-claim the lead and earn with it, a world championship title.
- Emily Little (GYMNASTICS)
Gymnast Emily Little shook off the disappointment of missing
Rio selection to win a maiden All-Around title at the 2017 Australian
Gymnastics Championships, whilst also continuing her dominance of the Vault apparatus.
Her success at nationals, followed a World Cup campaign earlier in the year
that saw her top ranked internationally, across three apparatus. An unfortunate
neck injury derailed her World Championships bid, but her form to that point
had reinforced her status as one of Australia’s premiere gymnastic talents.
Matt Wearn’s campaign was highlighted by a bronze medal
effort at the Laser World Championships in Croatia in September. This result
bettered his previous highest rank at senior world championship level – of
fourth – and saw him share the podium with current Olympic champion Tom Burton.
Wearn has enjoyed a consistent year of racing, having also taken victory at the
Aarhus Test event in Denmark (venue for next year’s World Championships) with
further podium results at World Cup level in Melbourne, Hyeres and Delta Lloyd.
Holly Barratt enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the 2017
Australian Swimming Championships to become the oldest debutant ever on an
Australian Dolphins team. Barratt earned a bronze medal after swimming the heat
of the 4x100m medley relay and also set a new personal best in the 50m
backstroke, qualifying for the final in the process. Barratt snared a national
title in the 50m back at the Australian Swimming Championships to earn her
ticket to Budapest.
- Brianna Throssell (SWIMMING)
Having switched programs and coaches post Rio Games, Brianna
Throssell expanded her representative honours list with selection onto the
Australian Dolphins team at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest. The
butterfly star swam the 100m and 200m events individually and came home with a bronze
medal after swimming the heat of the 4x100m medley relay for Australia.
- Sally Pilbeam (TRIATHLON)
Para-triathlete Sally Pilbeam earned a fourth consecutive
podium finish in the PTS4 class at the 2017 World Titles in Rotterdam, bringing
home a silver medal. Pilbeam completed the swim, bike run in 1:18.50hrs, just
half a minute shy of world champion Tani Mami of Japan. Pilbeam is widely
considered one of Australia’s very best female para-triathlete talents.
- Aaron Younger (WATER POLO)
Aaron Younger captained the Australian team at the 2017 FINA
World Championships in Budapest and was one of six Western Australian athletes
on the team. The Australians finished seventh, matching their best performance
at world level, since 2003. In May 2017, Younger also became the first
Australian water polo athlete to be part of a title-winning Champions League
team, after his Hungarian side Szolnok defeated Jug Dubrovnik in the final.