Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby captain Ryan Scott has taken out the top honour at the 35th state para-sport awards announced by Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association tonight (Friday 20 November).
Ryan was named 2015 Sporting Wheelie of the Year at a presentation dinner attended by more than 130 guests in Brisbane. The award recognises sporting excellence and contribution to the Association and its members.
Over the past 12 months, Ryan and the Steelers have won test series against Canada and New Zealand and bronze in the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge as part of their preparation to defend their Paralympic champions title in Rio next year. Ryan also led the Suncorp Queensland Cyclones to a silver medal in the national championships, and was named in the All Star team.
Despite his heavy national and state workload, Ryan has been an integral part of the rejuvenation of the Brisbane wheelchair rugby social competition in 2015, including delivering presentations to spinal injury unit patients and hospital staff to boost awareness and participation. He has been a valued coach and mentor for new and developing local players, and participated in team building and promotional sessions with sponsors and supporters.
Ryan edged out wheelchair basketballer Agustin Alonso and track and field athlete Kobie Donovan for the top award.
Dual Paralympian and multiple world record holder Brenden Hall was named Senior Male Athlete of the Year for his outstanding performances in the pool, including a new 800m freestyle world record. Para-shooter Natalie Smith won Senior Female Athlete of the Year for her medal successes in World Cup events and her world rankings across multiple disciplines.
The Queensland Paracanoe Team was named Team of the Year and their coach Andrea King won the Coach of the Year award for her work with both the state and national teams.
Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association CEO Ray Epstein praised the quality of finalists for this year’s awards across the 13 categories.
“The competition in the sporting categories was very tight, given that many athletes are aiming for selection in the Australian team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio,” he said.
The full list of 2015 award winners is:
Sporting Wheelie of the Year – Ryan Scott
Senior Male Athlete of the Year – Brenden Hall
Senior Female Athlete of the Year – Natalie Smith
Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Hayden Siebuhr
Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Lakeisha Patterson
Most Improved Athlete of the Year – Debra McGarry
Team of the Year – Queensland Paracanoe Team
Coach of the Year – Andrea King
Official of the Year – Emma Stewart
Inclusive Services Award – Queensland Rugby Union
Volunteer of the Year – Barry Harpur
Allclear Print and Signs Fitness Award – Lachlan Kavanagh
Paul Bodington Media Award – Grantlee Kieza
Group photo by Art for Life Photography