Finalists revealed for SA’s top sports awards

Three drought-breaking state teams, outstanding individual athletes, coaches, officials and events are all in the running for awards in this year’s South Australian Sport Awards.

Nov 01, 2023, updated Nov 01, 2023
The Thunderbirds celebrate after defeating the Swifts in July. Photo: AAP/James Ross

The Thunderbirds celebrate after defeating the Swifts in July. Photo: AAP/James Ross

Sport SA has announced the finalists of the 2023 rebel South Australian Sport Awards, with the winners to be announced at a gala event on Friday, November 10, at Adelaide Oval.

The award categories cover the gamut of sporting achievement, from teams, individual athletes and events, to officials, administrators, coaches and volunteers.

Sport SA chief executive Leah Cassidy said the awards shine a light on teams and people who contribute to South Australian sport on and off the field.

“The awards are also an opportunity for the sporting industry to come together as a whole to network and celebrate the industry,” she said.

“This year’s nominations have attracted a high-class field with selections almost impossible to make in some cases due to so many significant achievements.”

Team of the Year

This year’s finalists, in a category supported by InDaily, are three teams that each ended championship droughts.

In cricket, the Adelaide Strikers finally broke through for their first WBBL championship after two finals defeats in three seasons.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds climbed to the top of the Super Netball tree, 10 years after their previous premiership.

Also a finalist this year is the Adelaide Giants baseball team, which broke a 43-year drought to win the first national championship in the club’s history.

Athlete of the Year

Three gymnasts and a baseballer made the finalists list this year.

Curtis Mead made history in the past year for an Australian non-pitcher, with the third baseman making his debut in US Major League Baseball for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The other three finalists are all gymnasts: Clay Mason-Stephens (artistic gymnastics), Georgia Beddall (trampoline) and Rebekah Thomson (trampoline).

Para Athlete of the Year

Three different disciplines are represented in this category.

Previous winner Hugo Taheny, a field athlete with records in discus, shot put and javelin, is joined on the finalist list by triathlete Anu Francis and middle-distance runner Angus Hincksman.

Emerging Athlete of the Year

Three outstanding young sportspeople are in the running for this award, supported by InDaily.

Beach volleyballer Cameron Zajer achieved silver in the youth Commonwealth Games, Tenpin bowler Emily Hart made the Australian team, while gymnast Ruby Kerrison is making waves on the trampoline.

Other category finalists include:

COACH OF THE YEAR: Viktor Zhuravlev (Gymnastics SA), Luke Williams (SACA) and Stewart Parkinson (SA Underwater Hockey)

EVENT OF THE YEAR: Grange Golf Club (LIV Golf), Mt Gambier Swimming Club and Gymnastics SA (Junior State Championships and Bigham Cup)

OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR: Corey Bowen (SANFL), Paul Rothswell (Surf Life Saving SA) and Zoe Eastwood-Bryson (Athletics SA)

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Brett Nitschke (SACA), Jessica Morton (Surf Life Saving SA) and Matt Lucas (Lockleys Football Club)

ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR: Ashleigh Goode (Special Olympics), Eran Boyd (Racing SA) and Shane Bernhardt (SACA)

RECONCILIATION AWARD: Bike SA, Aboriginal Junior Development Academy, and North Haven Lifesaving Club

ACTIVE INCLUSION AWARD: Daughters and Dads (SACA), Francy Kyriacou (Tennis SA), and Schnippers (Surf Living Saving SA)

Tickets to the awards event are on sale now: go here for details.

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