Five athletes named as finalists for Emerging Athlete of the Year award


By Josh Squire


Showcasing and supporting the next generation of stars in the country, the quintet of young nominees announced today as the Emerging Athlete of the Year finalists reflect a strong future for Australian sport.

Chosen from a group of nominees that included 11 athletes and two representative teams from a total of nine different sports, Tayte Ryan, Cameron Myers, Aspen Anderson, Mikayla Bird, and Inez Miller have been announced as finalists for the award.

Of the five nominees, four of them competed at the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, tallying 19 medals between them including 11 gold.

The group also represented Australia at several other international events, competing at both junior and senior levels.

Track cyclist Tayte Ryan produced a head-turning 2023, highlighted by a sweep of the sprint events in Trinidad at the Youth Games.

Australia’s ‘Ginger Ninja’ blitzed through the sprint competition without dropping a race before claiming both the men’s time trial and keirin titles on the final day of racing.

After receiving the Emerging Athlete of the Month award late last year, Ryan said it was “incredible” to be recognised by CGA for his achievements.

“This is a huge honour, and I am very proud to be the Emerging Athlete for September.”

Following his performance at the Youth Games, Ryan proved himself as one to watch on the world stage with a strong performance at the 2023 UCI Junior Track World Championships. The emerging athlete produced a silver-medal winning effort in the men’s sprint and went one better in the 1000m time trial to take out the Junior World Champion title.

A star of junior track cycling, Ryan’s 2023 arrival on the world stage was striking and a nomination for Emerging Athlete of the Year won’t surprise many.

Tearing it up on a different type of track, middle-distance-running prodigy Cameron Myers made headlines on more than one occasion in 2023. Named as the Emerging Athlete of the Month in January, Myers nomination was the result of an ultra-impressive 1500m run at the Victorian Milers Club event in Box Hill.

Stopping the clock at 3:40.60, Myers’ effort was more than enough to go past Ryan Gregson’s under-18 record set in 2007, eclipsing the previous time by over three seconds.

Barely a month later Myers became the second-youngest person to crack the four-minute mile at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne. He came home in a time of 3:55.44 at just 16 years old and a mere nine days older than his idol, Norwegian superstar Jakob Ingebrigtsen, when he first dropped under four minutes.

2023 also marked the first Diamond League appearance for Myers as he competed in Chorzow, Poland in the men’s 1500m event. Although he finished 11th in a star-studded race led by Ingebrigtsen, Myers produced a personal best time of 3:33.26, ripping another seven seconds off the Australian under-18 record.

Putting together a track season that could have come from someone in the prime of their career before turning 18 caught the eye of fans and experts alike and makes Myers a worthy finalist for the Emerging Athlete of the Year award.

December saw a swimming duo recognised as joint Emerging Athletes of the Month for the first time ever. Trinbago 2023 athletes Mikayla Bird and Inez Miller collected six gold medals and eight minor medals between them in a dominant performance at Trinidad’s National Aquatics Stadium.

Bird took out the 100m and 200m butterfly finals in dominant fashion before joining up with Miller and teammates Harvey Larke and Jye Bennion to bring home gold in the mixed 4x200m freestyle relay.

Taking third in the 50m butterfly and 200m freestyle and jumping in for bronze medals in two other relay teams meant that Bird left Trinidad with the joint most medals of any athlete (alongside Miller and Scottish swimmer Matthew Ward), a feat that she was very proud of.

“Winning three gold and four bronze medals at an event like that is more than I ever expected, and it is so rewarding to see all of my hard work pay off.”

As Bird controlled the butterfly events, Miller was shining in the short and middle-distance freestyle events. Competing in each of the finals up to the 400m race, Miller snared minor medals in the 50m and 100m, but stormed to victory in the 200m and 400m.

The youngster led at every turn in the heats and finals of both races and topped off an unbelievable week of individual competition with the gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay alongside Bird, Larke and Bennion.

Australia’s golden girls in the pool for the Trinbago Youth Games showed exactly what they’re capable of and enter the nominee pool for the Emerging Athlete of the Year award in the same way they were awarded the Emerging Athlete of the Month title, together.

The first four nominees compete in a range of disciplines: athletics, cycling, and swimming. Aspen Anderson does all of these. And does them well. The 17-year-old triathlete received the Emerging Athlete of the Month award in October after a stellar year that culminated with two gold medals at the Trinbago Youth Games.

Anderson was clinical in the women’s individual super sprint event, taking the lead in the changeover between the swim and bike legs and maintaining it through to the finish.

Perhaps even more impressive was her performance alongside Jack Latham in the mixed team relay super sprint distance event just two days later.

Taking on the second leg of the relay, Anderson was handed fourth position by Latham as she entered the water. Claiming third position in the swim leg, she held on to this position heading into the running section of the race, 15 seconds behind the Siena Stephens from Jersey in first. In a six minute and 11 second blitz, Anderson caught up with the leaders, and then strode away, taking an eventual win by 25 seconds.

Her running ability was also on display earlier in the year, competing at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in the under-20 category. She came home in 35th place and was the highest ranked Australian entrant.

Anderson’s versatility combined with her terrific achievements at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2023 establish her as one to watch in the future and a deserving finalist for the Emerging Athlete of the Year award.

Only representing a snapshot of the country’s young talent, this year’s nominee pool has provided a glimpse into the future of their athletic careers, and it’s blindingly bright.

The winner of Emerging Athlete of the Year will be announced at the annual Commonwealth Games Australia President’s Dinner, with the winner receiving a $5000 CGA Scholarship towards their sporting endeavours. The other finalists will each receive a CGA Scholarship of $1000.



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