The View From Down Here #125 – 2010 Awards

AUSTRALIAN SPORT AWARDS
This concept is stolen from Australia’s Inside Sport magazine. But I like it so much, I’m going to present my awards for the year 2010.

On a more personal note, this column is becoming a little less regular, mainly because no one actually seems to care what I write here. Come football season, I’ll try and do a weekly AFL column, and still cover test match cricket featuring Australia, but the feedback I’ve received indicates those are probably the only 2 sports people want to hear about (oh, and soccer, but that doesn’t count). So, sorry to my bosses, sorry to the one reader who “misses the column”. My own studies have to take precedence starting February, and I’m enjoying the new challenge of writing for the Wrestling section. And no, I am not moving to another site (thanks for the rumour…) like other writers here. I like Inside Pulse, so here I shall stay.

Australian Sportsman Of The Year:
Mark Webber.
After years of being all talk and nothing much else, this year he was suddenly a very viable contender for the Formula One world championship. With what appeared from the outside to be less support from his team than his teammate, he came through to win and podium more times than ever before and put up a real fight, right down to the wire.
Honourable Mention: Samantha Stosur.

Most Improved Sport Of The Year (Australia):
Gymnastics.
After years of being a sport that Australians enjoyed watching but not actually excelling at (trampolinists aside), suddenly this year we saw the sport come into its own. Both men and women did well at the Commonwealth Games, and then Lauren Jackson hit gold at the World Championships. Let’s hope it keeps up!

Australian Coach Of The Year:
Tough one. Wayne Bennett? What would have happened if Melbourne had been allowed to compete for points? Mick Malthouse? What would have happened if the AFL had not handed them everything on a silver platter for the past 5 seasons? No, the coach of the year is the Coaches of the year. Those grassroots coaches, junior coaches, volunteer coaches and recreational coaches without whom there would not be sport in this country.

Australian Sporting Event Of The Year:
Tour Down Under.
Yes, having Lance Armstrong helped, but the event itself was beautifully managed, run well and with great opportunities for the public to become involved. And the scenery was wonderful.

Australian Team Of The Year:
Central District Football Club (SANFL).
The Bulldogs won their ninth SANFL grand final this year. They have appeared in every grand final since 2000 and this was their ninth win. The other two years – 2002 and 2006 – they were runners up. Eleven grand finals in eleven years. This is a team that does not get anywhere enough credit for so much recent success. And this year they were not the dominant team all through the season, yet still came up trumps at the pointy end.

International Sportsperson Of The Year:
Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko (boxing).
The brothers have taken boxing back to being seen as a legitimate sport, and not something being run by promoters for no one but themselves. They rarely fight outside of Europe (thus avoiding the tarnish of the US) and are so dominant that getting people to fight them – like the UK’s WBA heavyweight champion David Hayes – is proving next to impossible. Another great year for them, and their reigns look set to continue further yet.

Australian Villain Of The Year (Sports):
Brendan Fevola.
In a year where the sports stars have excelled themselves, this was a tough one. Joel Monaghan and his dog. Stephanie Rice twitting. Jake Friend and drugs. Mitch Clark, urine and a cigarette machine. Ben Cousins. The list goes on… as usual. But one name above all others stood out this year. Fevola. His leaking of private photos of Lara Bingle (though he was cleared of any actual wrongdoing). Repercussions of his 2009 Brownlow Medal night. Being seen in a Melbourne casino while rehabbing an injury, after admitting to a gambling problem. Allegedly flashing a woman in Brisbane. Maybe villain is too strong a word. Maybe moron covers it better.

Least Improved Sport Of The Year:
Men’s Tennis.
Our Davis Cup team could not get back into the world group. Lleyton Hewitt is our highest ranked male after having hip surgery, and he’s not in the top 50. Not one other player appears in the top 100. Our highest ranked male doubles player is Paul Hanley, not in the top 20. Stephen Huss is in the 50s. Jordan Kerr in the 70s. Rameez Junaid in the 90s. 4 players. It was not that long ago we had the world’s number one player and a bunch more in the top 100, and our doubles players were doing really well. What happened? Where is the money being spent on this sport going?

Australia’s Least Coach Of The Year:
Tim Neilsen (cricket).
Australia’s ranking has fallen in all aspects of the game. We are not currently feared. While I would like to blame Ricky Ponting, the fact is he is test captain, while Michael Clarke is Twenty20 captain and the ODI captaincy seems to change between the two of them. So what is constant? The coach. Just saying.

International Villain Of The Year (Sports):
Thierry Henry (soccer, France).
He single-handedly (pun intended) stole Ireland’s place in the World Cup. Sure, he wasn’t caught doing either handball but the fact is he cheated, got away with it, and put an undeserving team in the World Cup. And he showed no remorse for his actions.

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