Carol Cooke has been awarded the prestigious Victorian Institute of Sport’s (VIS) Award of Excellence at last night’s awards ceremony, capping off an exceptional year for the Para-cyclist.
2017 saw Cooke successfully regain her status as dual World Champion in September, winning both the road race and time trial in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Months earlier, she recorded three UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup victories, including winning both the time trial and road race in Emmen, Netherlands.
Her dedication to training and bravery to try different training methods saw the 56-year-old record a career best time trial result at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, and run a very tactical, astute road race to defend her crown.
Away from the bike, Carol is currently the professional fundraiser and event manager for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Australia, dedicated to raising awareness and funds for MS research. Carol was diagnosed with MS at 36, and has since acted as an ambassador and role model for those dealing with the disease.
The Award of Excellence is the pinnacle of the VIS Awards, honouring athletes who have achieved outstanding sporting results during the year, while contributing to the promotion and development of their sport.
Five other awards were presented during the ceremony, including the William Angliss Personal Excellence Award, the 2XU Youth Award, the Sarah Tait Spirit Award, presented by Gatorade, the Elite Athlete with a Disability Award, and the Frank Pyke Award.
The Elite Athlete with a Disability Award was presented to Para-alpine skier Mitchell Gourley. In 2017, Gourley saw 10 years’ worth of hard training come to fruition, becoming World Champion in the Super Combined in Tarvisio, Italy. He has also been named co-captain of the 2018 Australian Paralympic Winter Team.
The 2XU Youth Award and Coaches Award in Athletics were awarded to Isis Holt. In July, the 16-year old Para-athletics star successfully defended her dual World Champion status under trying conditions. Her focus, resilience and determination not only saw her win back-to-back world titles, but also break her own World Record in the T35 100m.
The Sarah Tait Spirit Award, named after the late Sarah Tait, was presented to Para-cyclist Hannah Macdougall. In 2017, Macdougall achieved her first World Cup podium and placed 4th in the time trial at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, despite many obstacles. She has also recently submitted her PhD for her Doctor of Philosophy, which focusses on athlete well-being.
Full list of Award winners:
- Award of Excellence – Carol Cooke
- Elite Athlete with a Disability Award – Mitchell Gourley
- 2XU Youth Award – Isis Holt
- Sarah Tait Spirit Award – Hannah Macdougall
- William Angliss Personal Excellence Award – Jacinta Carroll
- Frank Pyke Award – Daniel Kowalski