By Peter Holmes on 16/11/09 at 5:11 pm
Australian Minister for Sport Kate Ellis has announced Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship winner Emma Moffatt and swimmer Brenton Rickard as the 2009 Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Athletes of the Year.
Ms Ellis made the announcement at a ceremony at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. It’s the sixth time in the award’s 26-year history that the AIS’s top honour has been jointly awarded. Ms Ellis said the performances of Moffatt and Rickard are inspiring for other sportspeople and the wider Australian community.
“Both athletes are world class champions who hold themselves with great dignity and honour. They are doing the Australian Institute of Sport and Australia proud - on and off the sporting stage,” Ms Ellis said. “Their achievements in the international arena this year are remarkable and rank among some of the truly great moments in Australian sport.”
Emma Moffatt was crowned ITU World Champion after winning five gold medals in this year’s Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series. The 25 year-old from the Gold Coast won a bronze medal at last year’s Beijing Olympics and is now ranked number one in the world following her stellar year.
Emma said on receipt of her award:
“If I look back to twelve months ago, I’m a little bit gobsmacked as to what I’ve achieved to be honest,” Moffatt said. “I was struggling for motivation to keep on competing at the top level and, given how I was feeling mentally at the start of the year, I had a surprisingly good season. Making the move down to the Gold Coast to train with Craig Walton and Emma Snowsill was a great move for me. I’ve learned so much from Craig and Emma has been an inspiration of mine, so it’s been good to get a first hand view of how a real champion does it!
“To win this award is very humbling when you considers how many sports the AIS assist. I look at the past winners and it’s difficult to put yourself in the same calibre. I’d like to thank the AIS, the Australian Sports Commission and the Government, for without their support it would be impossible to achieve what we have. It’s an incredible environment to be a part of. I’d also like to acknowledge everyone involved with Triathlon Australia’s High Performance team - it’s a wonderful program and it makes it so easy to compete when all you have to worry about is going out and doing your own job.”
Alongside Moffatt’s award, her coach, Craig Walton was also recognised with the 2009 Australian Institute of Sport Coach of the Year award.
AIS Director Professor Peter Fricker paid tribute to Walton’s remarkable achievement and commitment to both the AIS and Australian triathlon: “For Craig, to win the AIS Coach of the Year award over such a high-quality field is a reflection of his outstanding coaching ability,’ Professor Fricker said. “Craig deserves much of the credit for the tremendous results achieved by Australia’s Emma Moffatt on the international triathlon circuit. ‘His leadership, professionalism and enthusiasm have seen Emma finish 2009 as the world number one female triathlete.”
Triathlon Australia chief executive Andrew Hamilton said last night provided wonderful recognition for the sport.
“It has been a memorable year for triathlon in this country and to have Emma and Craig recognised by such prestigious awards is the icing on the cake,” he said. “The work they have put in has been phenomenal and the results they have subsequently achieved are just reward. Our thanks to the AIS and ASC for their invaluable support, allowing us to produce world champions and a ground-breaking elite program, that is underpinned by a vibrant, healthy and progressive triathlon community.”