Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year: finalists revealed

THREE world championship medallists are among a select group of athletes vying for the 2011 Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year award.Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club will tonight present the city’s highest individual sporting accolade, which was first awarded in 1960.World junior track cycling champion Jaron Gardiner, world 50km road racewalking bronze medallist Jared Tallent and world eight-ball team bronze medallist Kolbe Poole are among nine finalists for the title.The Canberra-based Tallent, from Newlyn, is a two-time Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year, having taken out the honour in 2008 and 2010.This is the first time Gardiner and Poole have been finalists.International rower James Marburg (2009) is another past winner again in the running.Gardiner took out the 1000m time trial at the world junior cycling championships in Russia after securing the Australian under-19 sprint title.Tallent added to his collection of Olympic and international medals with a third at the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea.Poole rose through state and national ranks to contest the World Eight-Ball Championships in Blackpool, England.She was a member of the Australian team, which finished third.World Track and Field Championships middle distance runner Collis Birmingham, triathlete Jamie Huggett, cyclist Patrick Shaw, Kyokushin karate exponent Shannyn Johnstone-Ward and beach volleyballer Tamsin Hinchley complete the list of finalists.All competed internationally last year.The Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club will also present three other awards:• The Wunhym Trophy to the Ballarat Junior Sportsperson of the Year.• The Hollioake Medallion to the team or team player of the year.• The Mackenzie Award in recognition of a contribution by a sports administrator.More than 300 people will attend the gala awards dinner, which has AFL and Essendon all-time great Simon Madden as guest speaker.