Nominees for the 2017 WAIS Athlete of the Year Announced

WAIS | Published: Thu 26 October 2017

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 international debut.


  • Jaime Roberts (CANOE)

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 (CYCLING)

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.


  • Sam Welsford (CYCLING)

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 (SAILING)

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 (SWIMMING)

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.