2012 Australian Sailors of the Year with a Disability
Photograph:Andrea Francolini www.afrancolini.com
The outstanding year for Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic sailing medallists has continued at the 2012 Australian Yachting Awards, winning a number of awards on October 26 in Sydney.
Following a successful year on the water members of Australia’s London 2012 sailing team have taken home the Male, Female and Disabled Sailor of the Year Awards.
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch made it back-to-back wins in the Disabled Sailor of the Year category. The pair won gold in the SKUD 18 class at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, continuing their great run together since teaming up at the beginning of 2011.
Fitzgibbon is the most successful sailor in the category at the Australian Yachting Awards, winning the title for a record fifth time.
There were four finalists in the Sailor of the Year with a Disability category, IFDS International Blind Match Racers Kylie Forth and Erin McGlew, London 2012 Paralympic Games representative in the 2.4mR class Matt Bugg, Access Liberty World Champion Greg Hyde, and London 2012 Paralympic Games gold medallists Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch.
One week after the Australian Yachting Awards, Fitzgibbon and Tesch have been named Team of the Year at the 2012 Paralympian of the Year Awards.
Winners of the gold in the SKUD 18 class at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, they were announced as joint winners of the Team of the Year award, along with the Australian Wheelchair Rugby Team.
The Team of the Year Award capped off a very successful year for the pair, who finished on the podium at every event they contested, and won their Paralympic Games gold medal with a day to spare.
'I'm quite shocked at being awarded this honour,' said Fitzgibbon. 'I certainly didn't expect it given the field for Team of the Year was so strong.
'This award is good for sailing in Australia and it’s great to be recognised at an event like this,' he said. 'I honestly feel quite humbled and honored, it's awesome.'
It was the first time that either Fitzgibbon or Tesch had been recognised at the Paralympian of the Year Awards, with Tesch having just competed at her sixth straight Paralympic Games.
'It was such an honour to be up there alongside the Wheelchair Rugby Team,' said Tesch. 'Just like Dan I was a bit shocked by it, I was completely unprepared to win. It was a super night of gold, gold, gold.
'It was the first time that I’d been recognised like that, and the first time that sailing had been recognised, so it was a great night for me, Dan and the sport,' she said. 'I really didn’t think that we would win, it was such a red hot field with some amazing performances in there.
'It was also great to see Dan as a finalist in the Male Athlete of the Year category,' she said. 'It’s really hard as a team athlete to stand out and be in a group like that, highlighting what an amazing year we had.'
The event brought together hundreds of current and past Paralympians, giving Tesch a chance to catch up with former team mates from her Wheelchair Basketball days.
'It was an awesome night, like catching up with old family members,' said Tesch. 'The Paralympic Games have more than 20 years of history for me, it’s been a massive part of my life.'
For more information on the awards visit www.yachting.org.au