2017 Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year | all the awards


Katrina Werry has eyes firmly focused on the 2020 Olympic Games after a stunning rise to the elite ranks of world rowing.

After a 2017 filled with gold medals, Werry won yet another accolade on Wednesday night – the Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year award.

The former Ballarat Clarendon College student was selected ahead of four other nominees – table tennis star Rory Carroll, eight ball player Kolbe Poole, cricketer Matt Short and race walker Rachel Tallent – to be placed on the honour roll for the first time.

Werry was unable to be in town to accept her award, but spoke to The Courier about its significance and her plans for the future.

“It’s pretty amazing to just get recognised by the Ballarat community,” Werry, who went to primary school at St Thomas More, said.

“To be alongside some of those recipients, that’s pretty special. I’m honoured to be recognised and to be chosen.

“I never imagined to be where I am now and hopefully it just keeps going for me.”

I never imagined to be where I am now and hopefully it just keeps going for me.”

Katrina Werry

Werry has joined a list of rowers to have won the Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year award. Gary Gullock won it back in 1984 and was followed by two-time recipient Emily Martin (2001 and 2005), Anthony Edwards (2004) and James Marburg (2009).

Martin and Werry both have history with Mercantile Rowing Club.

Werry’s success in the award came on the back of a standout 2017 campaign in the women’s four division that included gold medals in two World Rowing Cup events and then the World Rowing Championships.

Werry said the World Rowing Championships success in Sarasota, Florida was the pick of the achievements.

“Not everybody goes to the World Cup series, so the standard is definitely lifted going into the world champs,” she said.

Werry, who now lives in Penrith where she attends a women’s national training centre, believes she has what it takes to make the Australian Olympic team for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“Absolutely. Without a doubt,” Werry said.

Former Australian cricketer Kerry O’Keeffe was the special guest at Wednesday night’s function, which was hosted by the Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club at the Ballarat Golf Club.


Harry Sharp and Sam Rizzo both took home a Wunhym Trophy on Wednesday night after sharing the honours as Ballarat’s best junior sportsperson of 2017.

Sharp, a long distance runner, had an exceptional year that included victory in an under-16 steeplechase event at the Australian All Schools Championships, where he finished a shade outside the national record.

Harry Sharp and Sam Rizzo

Harry Sharp and Sam Rizzo

The St Patrick’s College student also won gold in a steeplechase race at the Australian Athletics Championships and a 3000m event at state level among a host of great achievements.

Rizzo, who competes in wheelchair track racing, collected silver and bronze medals at the World Para-Athletics Junior Championships, where he was flag bearer for Australia.

While there was a stack of other medals, records and race wins, it was the honour of carrying the flag that the Damascus College student rated highest from his achievements in 2017.

Other finalists for the award included race walking sisters Jemma and Alanna Peart and BMX star and past winner Josh Jolly.


Matt Short may have missed out on the night’s main award, but he still left the Ballarat Golf Club on Wednesday with the prized Hollioake Medallion.

The top cricketer won the award for standout performances in a team sport.

Matt Short

Matt Short

Short’s 2017 was highlighted by his Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria and maiden first class century while playing for the Cricket Australia XI against England.


Darren Weir’s record-breaking 2016-17 racing season has propelled him to a second Widmer Award.

Presented to an outstanding coach, mentor or trainer, Weir won the first award in 2015 and backed it up with the 2017 honour on Wednesday night.

During last year, Weir rewrote the Commonwealth record for most winners in a season, beating his own previous mark with 449 victors. Eight of those were at group 1 level.

Weir finished 170 winners clear of his nearest training rival Australia-wide.

The 2016 Widmer Award was won by athletics coach Neville Down, who currently has 2017 Wunhym Trophy winner Harry Sharp in his stable.


John Burt’s long and tireless commitment to sport earned him the Mackenzie Award on Wednesday night.

John Burt

John Burt

Presented to someone for their efforts behind the scene of participation, the 69-year-old was certainly a worthy recipient of the honour.

Burt, a decorated footballer with Redan, is a life member of the Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club and is the current chairman of the Ballarat Sports Foundation.