Sporting Wheelie of the Year – David Nicholas
David’s hard work and dedication paid off with selection in the Australian para-cycling team for the Rio Paralympics following his silver medal in the C3 3km individual pursuit at the UCI World Championships in Italy. He claimed gold in the same event in Rio and set a new Paralympic record on his way to qualifying for the final. He also competed in the time trial, team sprint and road race events.
David helped to spread the message about inclusive sport and healthy activity as an ambassador for the River 2 Reef Charity Ride, an annual community cycling event in Mackay which attracts around 1500 riders of all ages and abilities and raises funds for the Association’s regional programs and services. David is a role model in his community of Proserpine and the Whitsunday region through his widely-publicised achievements and his involvement in his cycling club.
Senior Male Athlete of the Year – Ryan Scott and Chris Bond (joint winners)
Ryan captained the Australian Steelers wheelchair rugby team throughout their Paralympic preparation, which culminated in the Steelers winning their second consecutive gold medal at the Rio Games. His outstanding defence and strategic skills played a major role in the team’s performance. He also led the Suncorp Queensland Cyclones during the national wheelchair rugby series. He recorded his 250th match for Australia at the Canada Cup in June.
Chris was a key member of the Australian Steelers throughout their Paralympic preparation. His attacking role as ball carrier and goal scorer was a major factor in the Steelers’ Rio campaign. Chris scored 91 goals across the team’s five games in the tournament. His 21 goals during the gold medal win over the US included the dramatic equaliser with seconds left in the first overtime period. Chris was also a member of the Suncorp Queensland Cyclones during the national wheelchair rugby series. He recorded his 100th match for Australia in June.
Senior Female Athlete of the Year – Lakeisha Patterson
Lakeisha, 17, made a stunning Paralympic swimming debut at the Rio 2016 Games, winning two gold, three silver and a bronze in individual and relay events. She set a new world record in the S8 400m freestyle and was a member of the Australian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay 34pt team which also set a new world record. She also set a world short course record in the 100m freestyle in Brisbane in July.
Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Rheed McCracken
Rheed, 19, qualified for his second Paralympic Games in Rio. He pushed a PB and new national record to claim silver in the men’s T34 100m. He also won bronze in the T34 800m in a PB and national record time. He set new Oceania records in both events. Rheed’s busy competition year included finishing sixth in the Open Men’s category of the prestigious Oz Day 10k race against a strong international field.
Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Katja Dedekind
Katja, 15, was the youngest member of the Australian Paralymic swim team in Rio. She competed in four events and qualified for two finals, winning bronze in the women’s S13 100m backstroke in a three second PB and Oceania record. Katja was a multiple medallist and national record breaker in domestic and international competition leading up to the Rio Games.
Most Improved Athlete of the Year – Rachael Watson
Rachael had a breakthrough year in swimming in 2016, making her Paralympic debut in Rio. She won gold in the S4 50m freestyle in a Paralympic record time. Her national and international competition year included six Oceania records and five national records. Since gaining her swimming classification in 2015, she has gone from strength to strength and was named AIS Discovery of the Year at the Swimming Australia awards in November.
Team of the Year – Queensland Blind Bowlers State Team
The state team of 15 bowlers with vision impairment and their sighted directors contested the 2016 Australian Blind Bowlers Association (ABBA) National Championships in May against Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. The Queensland team won the champion state trophy (the Le Mans Toyota Shield), with a dominant performance that saw each team member winning at least one gold medal.
Coach of the Year – Harley Connolly
The Lawnton Swim Club coach guided the preparation of two of Australia’s most successful swimmers at the Rio Paralympics – Brenden Hall and Lakeisha Patterson – and was named in the Australian team coaching staff for the Games. The two swimmers won a total of nine medals between them, including Brenden’s gold in the men’s 400m freestyle (he is the current world record holder) and Lakeisha’s world record in the women’s 400m freestyle. Harley was named Paralympic Coach of the Year at the Swimming Australia awards in November.
Official of the Year – Robert Leak
Robert was Australia’s only chair umpire for the wheelchair tennis competition at the Rio Paralympic Games, where he officiated at eight singles and doubles matches including the bronze medal quad doubles match. He also officiated at the Australian Open men’s wheelchair doubles final. The experienced tennis official umpired the most Pro Tour events of any Australian official this year, and was a line umpire at his second Wimbledon championships.
Col and Peter Marsh Volunteer of the Year – Daryl Wood
In 2016, Daryl took the step up from volunteering for the Association to take on responsibility for supervising volunteers at sporting events, including mentoring and training. His voluntary service in 2016 included supporting around 100 volunteers at state championships for wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and boccia as well as other local events. His leadership and support is consistently praised by Association volunteers, and his loyalty, initiative and reliability make him a valued member of the Sporting Wheelies team.
Allclear Print and Signs Fitness Award – John Bailey
John recorded more than 150 visits to the Association’s inclusive fitness and rehabilitation centre in Bowen Hills during the year to October 2016. His commitment extends to volunteering for the Association at weekend sporting events and attending gym events to promote the benefits of regular physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. His positive attitude and outlook encourages other members to strive to achieve their best and be inclusive.
Inclusive Services Award – Empower Golf Queensland/Parkwood International Golf Club
The partnership between Empower Golf Queensland and Parkwood International Golf Club is helping to open up opportunities for more people with a disability to experience the sport. Empower Golf Queensland, headed by 2002 Bali bombing survivor and double leg amputee Ben Tullipan, has set up its first Queensland hub at the club, which welcomes players of all abilities. A specialised piece of equipment, the ParaGolfer, is based at the club for free use by anyone with a disability. The club has undertaken extensive renovations to improve para-golfers’ access to club facilities, including their high-tech simulators, and provides free green fees and use of the driving range for anyone with a disability.
Since the beginning of 2016, the club has hosted monthly come and try clinics for players of all abilities, providing equipment and guidance free of charge. Ben volunteered his time to conduct Empower Golf clinics and private lessons in south-east Queensland and Cairns to demonstrate the ParaGolfer. The successful partnership featured in a State Government campaign promoting inclusive sport as part of 2016 Disability Action Week.
Paul Bodington Media Award – Grantlee Kieza
Grantlee is a Senior Writer with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail. He wrote a series of major features on Queensland para-athletes throughout the year including Brenden Hall (swimming), Ryan Scott (wheelchair rugby), Natalie Smith (shooting), Raissa Martin (goalball), Lakeisha Patterson (swimming) and junior wheelchair basketball players attending the Kevin Coombs Cup. The articles appeared both online and in the sports section of the Sunday Mail and The Courier Mail alongside mainstream sport reporting, helping to raise the profile of para-sportsmen and women in Queensland.