Clean sweep looming for All Blacks
It’s ironic that for all teenage golfer Lydia Ko’s stunning achievements in 2015 she won’t win the Halberg Award.
Ko rose to world No 1 and won a Major, the Evian Championship, with a record last round of 63. She became the youngest winner, man or woman, in Majors history.
In any other year, Ko would be guaranteed the Halberg Award, but this year that crown will surely be won by the All Blacks, who retained their World Cup title in dazzling fashion.
Richie McCaw’s team played with joy and excitement and took the country with them in their perfectly timed campaign.
It would be unthinkable for the All Blacks to be denied our ultimate sports gong, despite the claims of Ko and a clutch of other world champions. Ko won the Halberg Award in 2013, when her achievements were relatively minor compared to what she did in 2015. But in sport timing is everything.
The All Blacks’ success is likely to filter through into other awards. The Silver Ferns in 2003, the All Whites in 2010, The All Blacks in 2011 and the rowers in 2012 dominated the Halberg Awards and it seems 2015 will be another Halbergs rugby extravaganza.
Here’s how I see the major Halberg awards for 2015:
Sportsman: All Blacks Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and McCaw, cricketers Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Trent Boult, golfer Danny Lee, rally driver Hayden Paddon, IndyCar series winner Scott Dixon and world lightweight single sculls champion Adam Ling were all big achievers. I’d give it to Williamson or Nonu, but expect the judges to go for the easy choice – world rugby player of the year Carter.
Sportswoman: A really highquality field, including Ko, world kayak champion Lisa Carrington, world time trial cycling champion Linda Villumsen, swim queen Lauren Boyle and world lightweight single sculls champion Zoe McBride. It would be wonderful if Carrington’s achievements – she’s been No 1 in the women’s K1 200 since 2011 and this year also won the world K1 500 crown – were finally acknowledged, but public sentiment is bound to be behind Ko.
Team: The All Blacks, world champion rowing combinations Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (men’s coxless pair), Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson (women’s double sculls), and Sophie McKenzie and Julia Edward (lightweight coxless pair), brilliant yachties Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, world champion team pursuit cyclists Piet Bulling, Alex Frame, Dylan Kennett, Marc Ryan and Regan Gough, and the Breakers basketball team all have strong claims. Bond and Murray, unbeaten since 2009, were fabulous again, but no-one will head the All Blacks in this category.
Coach: Anthony Peden (cycling), Gary Hay (rowing), Gordon Walker (canoeing) and Tim Carswell (cycling) produced world champions, and Mike Hesson did a good job with the New Zealand men’s cricket team, but towering over everyone is Steve Hansen, who not only produced a world champion team, but won over rugby fans with his humility and sense of humour, delivered in his trademark gruff manner.
Disabled Sportsperson: Mary Fisher should surely be an outstanding candidate. The blind Wellington swimmer set two world records and won three world titles, but bizarrely isn’t even among the announced finalists. Make of that what you will.
Coach Steve Hansen, left, and captain Richie McCaw were amazed by the turnout during the All Blacks’ victory tour. The public response to the team’s World Cup triumph was overwhelming.