The four-time single sculls world champion and Beijing bronze medallist Mahe Drysdale has been awarded the New Zealand Olympic Committee's prized Lonsdale Cup for the first time as an individual.
Drysdale was selected after an undefeated year which included two World Cup titles, his fourth world title in Poland and being named world male rower of the year.
The committee's secretary Barry Maister says Drysdale's had an outstanding year in which he also recorded the world's fastest race time, setting him above other very strong contenders.
Rowing has a strong history of Lonsdale Cup winners, with the Sydney Olympics gold medalist Rob Waddell winning in 1998 and 2000 and Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell last year.
And Drysdale was a member of the squad which won the 2005 award after the world championships in Japan where New Zealand won four titles.
Other winners since the Cup for the athlete who has made the most outstanding contribution to an Olympic or Commonwealth sport each year was first awarded in 1961 include the Olympic gold medalists Murray Halberg, Peter Snell, John Walker, Danyon Loader and Valerie Vili.