RACE walking and wheelchair rugby would appear to have little in common.
But both shared the spotlight at the Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club’s awards night at the Ballarat Lodge, with Jared Tallent and Greg Smith jointly named 2012 Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year last night.
Tallent won the award for the fourth time, his third in succession, while it was Smith’s first Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year award.
It was only the second time in 53 years the honour has been bestowed on the two athletes in the one year, the only other occasion being in 2004 when Anthony Edwards (rowing) and Allison Tranquilli (basketball) shared the award.
Smith, who won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and was the Australian team flag bearer at the games, said it was a privilege to share the prize with Tallent.
“It’s fantastic really,” the 45-year-old said.
“I kind of thought I’d come along and have a good night and enjoy a nice meal.
“I knew Jared was a big chance. He had an amazing year so it is great to share it with him. It’s also a great end to my career as an athlete.
“I’ve been nominated two or three times before. One of those years Steve Moneghetti won it and the other was Russell Mark. They’re all such icons of Ballarat.”
Tallent was in Canberra last night, preparing for the national championships next weekend in Hobart, and was unable to attend the presentation ceremony. The 28-year-old’s award was accepted by his mother Kath.
“They all mean a lot to him,” Kath Tallent said. “He’s very proud of being from Ballarat.
“He would have loved to be here but it is so hard for him to get here because the nationals are always this time of the year.”
Tallent was a silver medallist at the London Olympics last year in the 50km walk, after silver in the 50km walk and bronze in the 20km at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
There were 13 nominees for the 2012 Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year: Luke Barby, Collis Birmingham, Anthony Fisher, Tamsin Hichley, James Marburg, Kathryn Mitchell, Tara Pilven, Aislinn Prendergast, Patrick Shaw, Shannyn Johnstone-Ward and Mathew Wiltshire, in addition to Smith and Tallent.