Commonwealth Games stars Jake Birtwhistle, Ashleigh Gentle and Matt Hauser were among the big winners on Triathlon Australia’s night of nights – the Celebration of Champions Awards Banquet on the Gold Coast last week.
A night which saw Australia’s three-time World Champion and dual Olympian Peter Robertson become the13th inductee into the Triathlon Australia Hall of Fame and Maureen Cummings, Nick Croft and Liz Hepple elevated to Legends of the Sport.
And on the eve of one of his biggest ever races, it was Tasmania’s favourite triathlon son and Australia’s top ranked (2nd in the world) Elite triathlete, Birtwhistle, who stole the honours for a spectacular 2017.
Birtwhistle, who is second behind Mario Mola on the 2018 WTS Rankings and who is capturing the imagination of the sports keenest eyes, won best Male Performer of the Year for 2017 and the prestigious Athletes Athlete Award while the Gold Coast’s own Ashleigh Gentle was named the Female Performer of the Year.
For 23-year-old Birtwhistle, 2017 was a breakthrough year – finishing second in both Hamburg and Edmonton and spearheading the Australians to gold in the Mixed Team Relay.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me get this far; 2017 was certainly an exciting year and one I was proud of but I couldn’t have done it without my coach Joel Filiol and everyone who has played a part in my career, particularly my parents and my family,” said Birtwhistle.
Hauser, who joined Birtwhistle, Gentle and McShane to win the 2017 Mixed Team Relay in Hamburg as well as his individual ITU World Junior title in Rotterdam, was presented with the Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award.
Birtwhistle, Hauser, Gentle, Justin Godfrey, Tapp, Nic Beveridge and Bill Chaffey were all nominated for the Athletes Athlete – with Birtwhistle taking the honour as voted on by his peers.
The award is voted for by all athletes with a professional athlete membership and honours the athlete who has shown the most outstanding performance over the previous ITU and WTS racing season in the eyes of their fellow athletes.
When voting for the Athletes Athlete of the year award, other outstanding qualities and taken into consideration such as leadership skills, ambassador of the sport qualities and positive attitude.
Gold Coast-based Dan Atkins (QLD) was named High Performance Coach of the Year for his work with ITU World Champions Matt Hauser (Junior) and Paratriathlete Katie Kelly (PTVI) and third placed PTWC world championships Nic Beveridge.