WORLD Race Walking Cup winner Jared Tallent is Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year.
This is the fifth time – and the fourth consecutive year – that Tallent has won the honour.
Only fellow Olympians Steve Moneghetti (athletics) and Russell Mark (trap shooting) have collected the title more often – each six-time winners.
Tallent, who shared the award with Paralympic wheelchair rugby player Greg Smith last year, follows Mark (1995-98) as the second athlete to earn the honour in four years straight.
He accepted the award at last night’s Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club dinner.
“It’s such a great night for the celebration of Ballarat’s sporting excellence ... I try to be here whenever I can. I enjoy talking and catching up with other athletes,” Tallent said.
Tallent made the tough decision to relocate to Adelaide for his training base last year with his wife Claire as his coach.
Claire, who has retired from race walking, now coaches Tallent full-time.
“Working with Claire has been really good. She’s with me, riding alongside me, on the bike every day,” Tallent said.
“Honestly, it’s been refreshing (to make the move) and we get to spend a lot more time with family, back in Adelaide and in Ballarat, which is something I’ve really missed for about a decade now.”
Tallent has continued to stamp his name as one of Australia’s leading athletes on the international stage.
He started 2013 with gold in the Australia 20-kilometre championships in Hobart, won bronze with a gutsy 50km race in the IAAF World Championships in Moscow – his fifth at worlds and Olympic level – and his collective progress on the world stage earned him the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge crown. This featured 20km gold in La Coruna, Spain, and bronze for the same distance in Taicang, China.
Determined to win an elusive world championships gold medal, Tallent says working with a psychologist at the Australian Institute of Sport is helping to give him an edge in his mentally tough discipline.
Tallent’s focus is firmly on the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 with big challenges along the way.
He will race the 50m event in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in China this May, and aims for the world championships next year.
Tallent was one of eight finalists for Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year, including: javelin thrower Kathryn Mitchell, distance runners Collis Birmingham and Duer Yoa, badminton player Tara Pilven, cyclist Patrick Shaw, karate fighter Shannyn Johnston-Ward, and weightlifter Liam Belcher.
Pictures by Justin Whitelock.