Sporting Wheelie of the Year – Ryan Scott
Ryan has achieved the pinnacle of success in wheelchair rugby as a team member and captain of the Australian Steelers. 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.
Senior Male Athlete of the Year – Brenden Hall
At the 2015 IPC World Swimming Championships in July, Brenden contested seven events, and made the finals in all of them. He won gold in the S9 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke, and bronze in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay. Two months earlier, he set a new world record in the 800m freestyle at the Berlin Open. He is aiming for selection in his third Australian Paralympic team for Rio. Brenden also had success in open water titles, including winning silver overall against able-bodied swimmers in the state open water 5km event late last year.
Senior Female Athlete of the Year – Natalie Smith
Natalie has made a major comeback from injury and illness in an effort to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics. The London Paralympic bronze medallist won gold in the women’s 10m air rifle standing event at the 2015 World Cup event in Poland and is currently ranked the number one shooter in the world in that discipline. She placed second in the 50m sport rifle three-position event at the World Cup in Croatia, and is currently ranked equal second in the world. She is also ranked in the top 20 in the world for the mixed 10m air rifle prone event.
Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Lakeisha Patterson
Sixteen-year-old Lakeisha continued to build on her development as an elite swimmer in 2015 as part of her dream to qualify for her first Paralympics next year. She won a silver and two bronze medals in individual freestyle events for S8 swimmers and a gold and silver in relay events at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in July. She set two national Open records and seven national age records over the past twelve months.
Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Hayden Siebuhr
Fifteen-year-old Hayden has shown significant improvement over the course of the year, setting two national Open men’s records in the SB5 100m and 200m breaststroke and seven national age records in breaststroke and S6 freestyle since November 2014. He has also set 14 state Open records and 14 state age records in breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke and individual medley during that period. Hayden not only broke multiple records but many of these records he continually re-broke. He is a member of the Swimming Queensland Development Squad for para-swimmers.
Most Improved Athlete of the Year – Debra McGarry
Debra has made the transition from state champion to world champion since her win in the lawn bowls pairs competition at the State Multi-Disability Championships in September 2014. Debra represented Australia at the 2015 International Bowling for the Disabled World Championships in February and was undefeated in the women’s B7 singles competition to claim the gold medal. She also won gold in the singles competition at the national titles in June. Debra also competes in able-bodied competition and played lead in her local bowls club triples team which won the Wide Bay division champions title in July.
Inclusive Services – QRU
In the past 12 months, Queensland Rugby has worked on a number of initiatives to improve participation opportunities for players with a disability. They include the development of a Junior Rugby Disability Inclusion Policy and the Modified Rugby Program, which encourages children of all abilities to train and play on the same day and time as others in their age group. The program involves older players acting as mentors for children with specific needs to help them learn the skills and rules at their own pace in a fun environment.
To support their inclusion policy, the QRU has provided disability awareness training for development staff, including coaches and mentor players, so they can best provide a positive experience to players of all abilities and their families.
Team of the Year – Queensland Paracanoe Team
Over the past year, the Queensland Paracanoe sprint team coached by Andrea King has been the most successful paracanoe team in Australia, with the six team members (Curtis McGrath, Susan Seipel, Melissa Sullivan, Glenn Pyne, Andrew Stiles, Erin Baker) winning 26 of the 36 medals at the Australian Canoeing National Championships in March 2015 (including nine out of a possible 12 gold medals).
Coach of the Year – Andrea King
Andrea has been an integral part of the rise of para-canoeing in Australia as coach of both the Queensland and national teams. In 2015, she coached the state team to outstanding performances at the Australian Canoeing National Championships, winning nine gold, nine silver and eight bronze medals. She coached the Australian team to the top of the medal tally at the world championships in Milan with three gold, one silver and one bronze medal.
In the process, Australia secured vital quota places for the 2016 Paralympics, where the sport will make its debut. Andrea has helped to promote an inclusive approach in her sport from recreational to elite level.
Official of the Year – Emma Stewart
Emma has been a committed referee in wheelchair rugby competition from social to international level over the past 12 months. She gained her international accreditation in late 2014 and was chosen to officiate at the 2015 World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in London in early October this year. She also refereed at the GIO Fierce 4 Rugby National Championships (including the gold medal event), national lead-up events, the BASH (Queensland Wheelchair Rugby Championships) and the Brisbane social competition. She was also invited to referee the 25th Australian Wheelchair Rugby Anniversary exhibition match held on board the HMAS Canberra in July.
Col and Peter Marsh Volunteer of the Year – Barry Harpur
Barry made a significant contribution to goalball in Queensland in 2015 as a volunteer referee and committee member. He was a member of the organising committee for the 2015 Australian Goalball Championships in Ipswich in October, where he also acted as Senior Referee over the four-day event. He refereed at the July state goalball championships and officiated at Saturday morning social competition in Brisbane over the six-month season. Barry continued to mentor and train new referees to national level, and keep meticulous records of results and player achievements as the volunteer historian for Goalball Queensland and Goalball Australia.
Allclear Print and Signs Fitness Award – Lachlan Kavanagh
Lachlan is a dedicated member of the Association’s inclusive fitness and rehabilitation centre in Bowen Hills, with more than 90 visits over the past 12 months. He has been committed to improving his strength, balance, functional ability and overall fitness as part of achieving his personal best in life and competing in boccia. He can now walk around the gym to access the equipment during his sessions, rather than relying on his electric wheelchair for mobility. Lachlan is passionate about the positive effect of regular physical activity, and promotes this message whenever he can to people of all abilities both in the gym and the broader community.
Paul Bodington Media Award – Grantlee Kieza
Grantlee is a senior sports writer with The Courier-Mail/Sunday Mail. Grantlee’s Nov 2015 feature article on Queensland wheelchair basketballer Bridie Kean was published in the Sunday Mail, the Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), and was widely disseminated online via couriermail.com.au, news.com.au and foxsports.com.au. The article was one of five major features by Grantlee over the year, featuring Australians with a disability including Kurt Fearnley, John Maclean and Matt Cowdrey. Grantlee’s articles reinforced the positive impact of sport and physical activity in building resilience and self-esteem for people with disabilities. He is also a finalist in the Australian Sports Commission’s 2015 Media Awards for “Best coverage of sport for people with disability.”