Sportsperson of the Year
This prestigious event is held in February each year and finalists whose principal place of residence or club is Ballarat are nominated by a panel in both senior and junior sections. The Junior Award is known as the Wunhym Trophy generously donated by the family of the late Jack Wunhym who was an outstanding sportsman and coach in Ballarat. The Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year 1960 was first awarded in 1961 and the Wunhym Trophy in 1967.
The Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year Award is an acknowledgement of the outstanding performances of an athlete(s) during a calendar year. An athlete’s achievements at international, national, state and the local level will be taken into consideration. It can be awarded for a number of sporting successes or for one individual performance. This prestigious award commenced in 1960 and has seen thirty Ballarat athletes receive this honour during the past 58 years.
Four other Awards are now presented each year with The Mackenzie Award in honour of Past President and Foundation Member, the late Ken Mackenzie, awarded to a sportsman who has made a major contribution to sport outside the sphere of competition (i.e. administration), the Hollioake Medal in honour of Club Member Rex Hollioake who over many years made an outstanding contribution to sport in Ballarat is presented to the Team Player of the Year and for the first time this year the Widmer Award in memory of the late Alan Widmer, a stalwart of the Club and mentor of the Sportsperson of the Year Awards since inception. This Award is presented to Athletes’ Mentors, Coaches and Trainers who have shown dedication and excellence in their field in assisting the development of sport and sportspeople in the region. The sixth Award presented this year was the Thompson Scholarship Award which is made in the form of a Club donation to the finances of both the Ballarat Sports Foundation and the FedUni WestVic Academy of Sport. This Award is presented as a tribute to Club Life Member Neil Thompson who has been an integral part of the Club administration for many years.
The Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club first Sportsman of the Year Award for 1960 was champion Ballarat golfer Neil Titheridge. The first female winner was Table Tennis champion Lyn Gilbert who won the 1962 Award, Lyn won the Award again in 1967. There have been a number of other multiple winners – Ray Bilney (cycling), Doug Armstrong (cycling), Tony Benson(athletics), Graham Crouch(athletics), Barry Packham(karate), Willi Sawall(athletics), Ray Rigby(power lifting), Steve Moneghetti(athletics), Russell Mark(trap shooting), Emily Martin(rowing), Stuart Brehaut(badminton), Shane Reese(swimming) and Jared Tallent(athletics).
The Award for Sportsperson of the Year 2018 was presented at the Ballarat Golf Club Function rooms in February 2019 and won by Champion Athlete (Javelin) and Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Kathryn Mitchell. The Wunhym Junior Sportsperson of the Year was won again by Wheelchair Athletics Champion Sam Rizzo who had another outstanding year. The Hollioake Medallion was presented to Ex Ballarat & Clarendon College Student and the 2017 Sportsperson of the Year winner Katrina Werry who had another outstanding year as a Team Member of the ever successful Australian Rowing Teams. The Mackenzie Award was presented to Peter Wilson for his contribution to Sports Administration in Ballarat over many years. The Widmer Award was presented to St Patrick’s College, Ballarat Teacher and Football Coach Howard Clark who has devoted years of his life to successfully Coaching and Mentoring Junior Footballers in the region for many years with great success.
The Guest of Honour/Speaker this year was AFL Legend Player, Coach & Media Identity Leigh Matthews AM.
Nominees for the Awards this year will be selected by a Special Committee in December 2019/January 2020:
The Guest of Honour/Speaker for the 2019 Sportsperson of the Year Presentation Dinner on February 12th. 2020 will be announced ASAP.