Ly­dia Ko win­ning the fame game

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JOSEPH RO­MANOS

Our most fa­mous, rather than our best per­formed, seem likely to win the 2013 Hal­berg gongs. The Sportswoman cat­e­gory is very com­pet­i­tive, with world cham­pion shot put­ter Valerie Adams aim­ing for an eighth ti­tle. She and world cham­pion kayaker Lisa Car­ring­ton should be vy­ing for top hon­ours.

How­ever, teenaged golfer Ly­dia Ko is the me­dia dar­ling – there has been in­ces­sant ra­dio and news­pa­per talk about how the award sim­ply must be hers.

Ko is a bril­liant tal­ent and I love her at­ti­tude. She is surely a cham­pion in the mak­ing.

But she won no ma­jor ti­tle in 2013 and is ranked No 4 in the world. Does that stack up against two world cham­pi­ons who went through 2013 un­beaten?

Ap­par­ently it does in the shal­low me­dia world, where fame trumps per­for­mance.

When the Hal­berg nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced last week, sev­eral me­dia pun­dits were hor­ri­fied bas­ket­baller Steve Adams’ name was not on the Sports­man list.

Adams gained head­lines for earn­ing an NBA con­tract af­ter be­ing 12th best pick in the draft.

He is now be­gin­ning to make his way with the Ok­la­homa Thun­der, but I can’t think why he should be nom­i­nated for his per­for­mances in 2013, when his most news­wor­thy ac­tion was sign­ing his con­tract.

Bas­ket­ball New Zealand seemed to feel the same, pre­fer­ring to fo­cus its Hal­berg hopes on the Break­ers, who won a third con­sec­u­tive Aus­tralian NBL ti­tle.

Eques­trian Jock Paget would nor­mally have walked away with the Sports­man award, hav­ing scooped Bad­minton and Burgh­ley, the two ma­jors of the three-day event­ing year. But he lost his Burgh­ley ti­tle when his horse, Clifton Prom­ise, failed a drugs test and was dis­qual­i­fied.

All Black Kieran Read and rac­ing driver Scott Dixon now loom as Sports­man favourites.

The drums are beat­ing for the un­beaten All Blacks to win the team award, and they were in­deed su­perb this year.

How­ever, I hope the New Zealand men’s soft­ball team, which de­fied the odds to claim the world ti­tle, is gen­uinely con­sid­ered. The soft­ballers were bril­liant in re­vers­ing re­cent poor per­for­mances.

Lu­di­crously – and again un­der the fame ban­ner – there’s a push for Team New Zealand to be recog­nised.

The Amer­ica’s Cup yachties cer­tainly gained tremen­dous pub­lic­ity, with spon­sor Emi­rates fly­ing the me­dia around the world to en­sure that was so, but their per­for­mance was bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing.

To lose the fi­nal 9-8 af­ter lead­ing 8-1 was hardly the sort of ef­fort to merit laud­ing in the end of year awards.

I’ve en­joyed All Black coach Steve Hansen this year. His team was great and Hansen him­self seemed to de­light in his deal­ings with the me­dia – he is al­most a car­i­ca­ture of him­self th­ese days with that gruff per­sona.

Hansen gained the most me­dia at­ten­tion. How­ever, other coaches, who pro­duced world cham­pi­ons, must come into the reck­on­ing for the Coach award.

This year’s Hal­berg Awards de­lib­er­a­tions should pro­voke fas­ci­nat­ing dis­cus­sion. But sadly, the panel – now ex­panded to about 30 – doesn’t meet any more. It de­lib­er­ates in iso­la­tion, so ro­bust and in­for­ma­tive dis­cus­sion is avoided.

A pity. There are is­sues that de­mand se­ri­ous de­bate this year if the awards are to be mean­ing­ful.

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