Nina Kennedy’s memorable performance from the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last August has earned her the Bruce McAvaney Award for the Performance of the Year at the Athletics Australia Awards.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist claimed the prestigious award after her tilt at pole vault saw her share the global crown with Olympic gold medallist Katie Moon (USA).
Twice breaking her own Australian record during the competition, the two competitors were locked with three unsuccessful attempts at 4.95m when the two agreed to share the glory.
“It feels like it was a long time ago now, but I remember how nervous I was feeling beforehand. The atmosphere was incredible. It was so amazing, but I had this weird laser focus on the night where all I could see were my coaches and the pole vault pit – and that’s all I was thinking about,” Kennedy said.
“There are very few opportunities where you get to attempt those heights, so I think something that’s really helped me was visualising the competition on that day. I visualised the bar being at 4.90m, and in my head I had felt that feeling of clearing it and I felt that feeling of winning previously.
“Katie is a fierce competitor and I felt honoured to share the gold medal with her. She’s an outright Olympic champ and she does have a higher personal best than me (4.95m), but I feel confident that I can take her on when we’re in the same competition, so I’m looking forward to Paris.”
Nina Kennedy’s historic pole vault triumph at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last August has earned her the Bruce McAvaney Award for the Performance of the Year at the Athletics Australia Awards.
— Athletics Australia (@AthsAust) January 9, 2024
Kennedy was also honoured with the Marjorie Jackson Award for Female Able Bodied Athlete of the Year, while fellow Birmingham 2022 gold medallist Matt Denny claimed the John Landy Award for Able Bodied Male Athlete of the Year, after setting the Australian discus record for the second time last year with a 68.43m throw to take the Diamond League trophy.
The Russell Short Award for Male Para Athlete of the Year was awarded to James Turner, who claimed his ninth and tenth global medals in the 100m and 400m T36 at the World Para Athletics Championships, while debutant Mali Lovell took the honours for the Amy Winters Female Para Athlete of the Year.
Cameron Myers, who was Commonwealth Games Australia’s Emerging Athlete of the Month last January, took out the Male Junior Athlete of the Year Award, with Torrie Lewis awarded Female Junior Athlete of the Year.
Paul Burgess claimed Coach of the Year – Open for the second-consecutive year for his work in coaching Kennedy to gold and Kurtis Marschall to bronze in Budapest, as Myers’ coach Dick Telford claimed the Award for the Junior category.
Athletics Australia Life Member Gerard Ryan’s dedication to athletics was also honoured with the Official of the Year Award.
The Athletics Australia Awards are awarded annually, and this year, celebrated the greatest achievements from 2023.
Congratulations to all recipients across the award categories.
With thanks to Athletics Australia.
2023 Athletics Australia Award Winners:
Bruce McAvaney Award for Performance of the Year – Nina Kennedy
Marjorie Jackson Award for Female Able Bodied Athlete of the Year – Nina Kennedy
John Landy Award for Male Able Bodied Athlete of the Year – Matthew Denny
Russell Short Award for Male Para Athlete of the Year – James Turner
Amy Winters Award for Female Para Athlete of the Year – Mali Lovell
Female Junior Athlete of the Year – Torrie Lewis
Male Junior Athlete of the Year – Cameron Myers
Coach of the Year (Open athletes) – Paul Burgess
Coach of the Year (Junior athletes) – Dick Telford
Official of the Year – Gerard Ryan