Sportswomen eye region's top honour

BALLARAT’S elite sportswomen will be saluted tonight.

The Ballarat associates' branch of the Sportsmen’s Association of Australia will name its 2013 Ballarat Sportswoman of the Year.

For the first time, five finalists have been nominated for the major award – two more than has been the tradition.

Past Sportswoman of the Year winners Kathryn Mitchell and Shannyn Johnstone-Ward head the list of candidates.

They are joined by veteran racewalker Kelly Ruddick and young basketballers Kasey Burton and Abigail Wehrung.

Olympic javelin thrower Mitchell received the award in 2010, while Kyokushin karate fighter Johnstone-Ward was named sportswoman of the year for 2012.

Burton and Wehrung are striving to be the first basketballer to claim Ballarat’s most prestigious individual honour for female athletes since Allison Tranquilli (nee Cook) in 1995.

The SAA will also name the Ballarat Sportsgirl of the Year, and present the Blackbourn Encouragement Award – won by Wehrung two years ago – and sports administrator award.

Retired Australian netballer Sharelle McMahon will be guest speaker.

The sportswomen of the year was first awarded in 1975, with track and field athlete Sandra Griffin the first on the honour roll.

The sportsgirl of the year and administrator award have also been running for the same time, while the encouragement award was introduced in 1997.

Olympic swimmer Shayne Reese is a five-time winner of the major award and rower Emily Martin and badminton player Kellie Lucas have their names on the sportswomen’s honour roll four times.

Other multiple winners include: Sharon Stewart (athletics) three, Leanne Johnson (powerlifting) three, Robyn Maher (nee Gull) (basketball) two, Allison Tranquilli (nee Cook) two.

david.brehaut@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Sportswomen of the Year finalists

KASEY BURTON, 17

Basketball

Exies Acmy, Ballarat Basketball Association

2013 highlights:

+ Australian Futures tour of Hungary

+ Gold medal with Australia in Oceania Pacific Under-19 Championships in NZ

+ Silver medal with Vic Country in national under-18 championships

+ National high performance program

+ Gold medal with Victoria in Australian Country junior cup

SHANNYN JOHNSTONE-WARD, 22

Full contact karate

Ballarat Kyokushin Karate Club

2013 highlights:

+ Australian Kyokushin karate champion

+ China national championships winner

KATHRYN MITCHELL, 31

Javelin

Eureka, Ballarat Regional Athletics Centre

2013 highlights

+ fifth World Athletics Championships in Moscow

+ fifth in Diamond League final in Zurich

+ world ranking of sixth

+ fourth in Diamond League Paris

+ fourth in Diamond League London

+ fourth in Diamond League Stockholm

KELLY RUDDICK, 40

Racewalking

Ballarat Harriers, Ballarat Regional Athletics Centre

2013 highlights:

+ Australian 20km champion

+ ranked one nationally 10km and 20km

+ world masters 40+ 5km and 10km records

+ Olympic A qualifier

+ 13 personal bests in last 19 races

+ multiple state championships

ABIGAIL WEHRUNG, 18

Basketball

Phoenix, Ballarat Basketball Association

2013 highlights

+ Emerging Opals in four nationals tournament in China

+ AIS basketball scholarship

+ Gold medal with Victoria in national under-20 championships

PAST 10 Ballarat Sportswomen of the Year:

2012 Shannyn Johnstone-Ward (karate)

2011 Briony Polkinghorne (indoor cricket)

2010 Kathryn Mitchell (javelin)

2009 Shayne Reese (swimming)

2008 Shayne Reese (swimming)

2007 Shayne Reese (swimming)

2006 Shayne Reese (swimming)

2005 Emily Martin (rowing)

2004 Shayne Reese (swimming)

2003 Kellie Lucas (badminton)

2009 Shayne Reese (swimming)

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