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2012 Paralympian of the Year
The 2012 Paralympian of the Year Awards were held 8 November at the Hordern Pavilion, in Sydney.
The awards recognise the achievements of Australian athletes in a Paralympic year.
Paralympian of the Year - Jacqueline Freney
Swimmer Jacqueline Freney blitzed the field to win eight gold medals from eight events at her second Paralympic Games in London. With six individual victories, two relay wins and two world records, her anchor leg of the 4x100m medley relay in her final race remains one of the finest performances of the Games.
Male Athlete of the Year - Evan O'Hanlon
Sprinter Evan O'Hanlon dominated on the track to win the coveted 100m and 200m gold, both in world record times and secured his title as Australia’s fastest ever Paralympian. O'Hanlon's double gold continued his impeccable Paralympic record of five gold, from five events, all in world record time.
Female Athlete of the Year - Jacqueline Freney
Winning eight gold medals in London, Jacqueline Freney not only became Australia's most successful ever athlete at a single Paralympic Games, but she became the most successful athlete overall at the London Paralympics.
Junior Athlete of the Year - Maddison Elliott (joint winner)
At 13 years old, Maddison Elliott was the youngest Australian to ever compete at a Paralympic Games. Relatively unknown on the international swimming circuit, she surprised many when she won gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, silver in the 50m freestyle and bronze in the 100m and 400m freestyle.
Junior Athlete of the Year - Rheed McCracken (joint winner)
At his first Paralympic Games, 15-year-old Rheed McCracken won bronze in the 200m before going one better to win silver in the 100m on the final day of athletics competition, earmarking him as one of Australia’s track stars of the future.
Team of the Year - Australian wheelchair rugby team, the Steelers (joint winners)
Having won every quarter of every game, Australia’s wheelchair rugby team returned from London with the gold medal they dreamed of. Having won silver twice before, Australia defeated Canada 66-51 to claim the team’s first ever gold on the last day of the Games.
Team of the Year - SKUD 18 crew (joint winners)
An unlikely pair, sailor Daniel Fitzgibbon and five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketballer Liesl Tesch combined on the water to win Australia’s first sailing gold since Sydney 2000. Fitzgibbon’s strategic sailing skills and Tesch’s competitive nature and natural talent were for all to see as the SKUD 18 pair won four of the 10 regatta races and never once finished outside the top three.
Coach of the Year - Peter Day
Cycling head coach Peter Day enjoyed one of Australia’s most successful Games campaigns ever in Paralympic cycling. His team of 12 athletes and three sighted pilots combined to win six gold, four silver and four bronze medals, doubling the number of cycling gold won in Beijing 2008.
Under Day’s guidance and experience, 14 of the 15 athletes returned home with a medal and the team set five new world records, six Paralympic records, 12 Australian records and 19 personal bests.
Special Presentation - Matthew Cowdrey
Australia’s most prolific gold medallist, Matthew Cowdrey was honoured with a special presentation in recognition of his remarkable achievements. Cowdrey has won more Paralympic gold medals than any other Australian, putting his name in the record books with 13 gold.
Not only is the South Australian the nation’s most prolific gold medallist, his five gold, two silver and one bronze medal in London took his career total to 22 medals to become Australia’s most decorated Paralympian of all time.
President's Medal for Excellence in Sportsmanship - Libby Kosmala
Having competed at 11 Paralympic Games and with nine Paralympic gold medals, shooter Kosmala is one of the most decorated and experienced athletes in Australia. Her love and passion for shooting was evident when, at 70, she became the oldest athlete to compete at the London Games and made the final of her pet event, the 10m air rifle standing. With more than 40 years experience at the Paralympic Games, Kosmala was not only an inspiration to her fellow shooters but to all athletes on the team.
President's Medal for Excellence in Sportsmanship - Kieran Modra
Tandem cyclist Modra competed at his seventh Games in London and remarkably recovered from a horrific car accident in December 2011 to win the 4km individual pursuit at three consecutive Games alongside sighted pilot Scott McPhee. Having competed in three sports over his career, Modra’s dedication and excellence in sport shone through to win his fifth Paralympic gold medal.