4 Jan 2009

NZ Olympians dominate Halberg Awards

6:07 am on 4 January 2009

The 2008 Halberg sports awards finalists have been announced and reflect efforts at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The sportswoman, sportsman and coach of the year categories each feature three Olympians, while among the sports team finalists are two teams which competed in Beijing.

Athletics has finalists in three categories.

Olympic and world champion shot putter Valerie Vili is a finalist for sportswoman, 1500 metre bronze medalist Nick Willis is up for sportsman while Vili's mentor, Kirsten Hellier, is a coach of the year finalist.

Rowing has two finalists; double scull gold medallists, Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell have made the final cut for team of the year and their coach Richard Tonks is in the coaching category.

The Rugby League World Cup winning Kiwis are also nominated for team of the year while their mentor Stephen Kearney is in for coach.

The Grand Slam achieving All Blacks are up for team of the year.

The awards will be announced in Auckland on 3 February and the supreme trophy, the Halberg Award, will be chosen from one of the above.

The 2007 Halberg Award went to world shot put champion Valerie Vili.

Finalists for the 2008 Halberg Awards are:

Sportsman of the Year: Tom Ashley (board sailing), Scott Dixon (motor sport), Hayden Roulston (cycling ), Danny Lee (golf) and Nick Willis (athletics)

Sportswoman of the Year: Sophie Pascoe (swimming), Val Smith (bowls), Valerie Vili (athletics) and Samantha Warriner (triathlon)

Sports Team of the Year: All Blacks (rugby), Kiwis (rugby league), Women's Double Scull (rowing) and Men's Team Pursuit (cycling)