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All Blacks and Rugby face stiff competition in Halberg Awards

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halberg.co.nz and James Mortimer     12 Dec 2012     Getty Images

Named after Olympic Champion Sir Murray Halberg, the Westpac Halberg Awards is the country's pre-eminent platform to honour and celebrate New Zealand sporting excellence.

Its high profile also provides the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation (formally Halberg Trust) with a flagship fundraising opportunity for Sir Murray's charity, which aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled young people by enabling them to participate in sport.

Award winners will be announced at the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards at Vector Arena, Auckland, on Thursday, February 14, 2013. The event will also be televised live on SKY Sport.

This year's nominations for the High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman, High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman, Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson, Westpac Team, Westpac Emerging Talent and Coach of the Year Award categories have been received from National Sporting Organisations and an independent Voting Academy.

The Voting Academy will now vote to determine finalists which are announced on January 1st 2013. Any outstanding performances by individual athletes or teams are still considered until December 31st 2012.

This year the Westpac Halberg Awards received 12 nominations for Sportsman, eight for Sportswoman, six for Disabled Sportsperson, 17 for Team, nine for Emerging Talent and 11 for Coach of the Year.

Westpac Halberg Awards spokesperson and Halberg Disability Sport Foundation CEO, Geoff Burgess, says the Westpac Halberg Award Voting Academy is once again in for some tough decision making.

"There have been so many captivating sporting performances in 2012 that I am sure will fuel public speculation leading up to the Awards."

"Five gold medals and a record-equalling 13 medal haul at the London Olympics was part of an incredible year that also saw the Silver Ferns and All Blacks dominate their competition, and the New Zealand Paralympic Team bring home a remarkable 17 medals," says Burgess.

"In 2012 we also saw new sporting stars emerge, not to mention the outstanding victories of the Chiefs, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and the New Zealand Breakers to mention a few, the competition is huge this year," says Burgess.

The Halberg Award criteria state the Award be given to the individual athlete, athlete in a team, or team whose achievement in 2012 represented excellence in sport at the highest level.

When voting, the Voting Academy members consider whether the achievement was in that sport's 'pinnacle event', whether it was a world record, world ranking or recognition, the quality of the field or competition and the global nature of the sport.

Only winners of the Sportsman, Sportswoman, Disabled Sportsperson and Team of the Year Award categories are eligible to claim the country's pinnacle accolade for sporting excellence - the Halberg Award.

The full list of nominations for the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards:

High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year
Jack Bauer (Cycling), Scott Campbell (Baseball), Mahe Drysdale (Rowing), Mitch Evans (Motorsport), Westley Gough (Cycling), Richie McCaw (Rugby), Brook MacDonald (Cycling - Mountain Biking), Peter Michael (Speed Skating), Andrew Nicholson (Equestrian), Hayden Paddon (Motorsport), Levi Sherwood (Freestyle Motocross), Simon van Velthooven (Cycling).

High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year
Valerie Adams (Athletics), Lauren Boyle (Swimming), Lisa Carrington (Canoeing), Joelle King (Squash), Lydia Ko (Golf), Sarah Walker (BMX), Alison Shanks (Cycling), Linda Villumsen (Cycling).

Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
Mary Fisher (Para Swimming), Phillipa Gray (Para Cycling), Cameron Leslie (Para Swimming), Sophie Pascoe (Para Swimming), Daniel Sharp (Para Swimming), Fiona Southorn (Para Cycling).

Westpac Team of the Year
All Blacks (Rugby)
The Chiefs (Rugby)
New Zealand Diamond Blacks (Baseball)
John Kennard and Hayden Paddon (Motorsport)
NZ Eventing Olympic Team (Equestrian)
NZ Men's 49er Class Team - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (Sailing)
NZ Men's Double Scull - Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (Rowing)
NZ Men's Lightweight Double Sculls - Peter Taylor and Storm Uru (Rowing)
NZ Men's Pair - Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (Rowing)
NZ Men's Pursuit Team - Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan, Jesse Sergent, Westley Gough, Aaron Gate NZ (Cycling)
New Zealand SKYCITY Breakers (Basketball)
NZ Men's Sprint Team - Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Edward Dawkins (Cycling)
New Zealand Surf Life Saving Team (Surf Lifesaving)
NZ Women's 470 Team - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (Sailing)
NZ Women's Pair - Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh (Rowing)
Silver Ferns (Netball)
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (Netball)

Westpac Emerging Talent
Anton Cooper (Mountain Biking), Macauley Fox (Baseball), Trent Jones (BMX), Dylan Kennett (Track Cycling), Lydia Ko (Golf), Andrew McKenzie (Sailing), Corey Main (Swimming), Mathew Ogden (Orienteering), Sophie Williamson (Road Cycling).

Coach of the Year
Scott Bartlett (Surf Lifesaving), Roly Crichton (Para Swimming), Erik Duvander (Equestrian), Calvin Ferguson (Rowing), Nathan Handley (Sailing), Steve Hansen (Rugby), Dave Rennie (Rugby), Waimarama Taumaunu (Netball), Noeline Taurua (Netball), Richard Tonks (Rowing), Gordon Walker (Canoeing).

The 30-strong Voting Academy comprising media representatives, former athletes and coaches is:
Philippa Baker-Hogan, Richard Becht, Richard Boock, Hamish Carter, Ron Cheatley, Graeme Crosby, Greg Ford, Andy Hay, Rachael Henderson, Debbie Hockley, Michael Jones, Jayne Kiely, Dave Leggat, Danyon Loader, Te Arahi Maipi, Jonathan Millmow, Peter Montgomery, Ron Palenski, Farah Palmer, Ramesh Patel, Michelle Pickles, Mark Richardson, Susie Simcock, Mark Sorensen, Mike Stanley, Rikki Swannell, Howie Tamati, Brendan Telfer, Sarah Ulmer and Adine Wilson.