Sally Pearson (Qld) and Mitchell Watt (Qld) have tonight been crowned Female and Male Athletes of the Year at the 2012 Athlete of the Year Awards presented by Eurosport.
Kelly Cartwright (Vic) and Evan O’Hanlon (ACT) have also been proclaimed as the Female and Male Athletes with a Disability of the Year.
Pearson’s crowning as Female Athlete of the Year, as well as her win of the 2012 Eurosport Outstanding Performance Award, caps off what has been a stellar 18 months for the 26-year-old. Pearson launched her 2011 European campaign with an Australian record at the LondonDiamond League, before stunning her rivals with a blistering 12.28, the fourth fastest in history, to be crowned world champion and earn her title as the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year.
Dominating the 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles across the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour, it was in 2012 that Pearson became the golden girl of the track. Clocking a world lead of 12.49 before heading overseas, Pearson thrilled her home country with a superb Olympic record setting and gold medal winning performance in the 100m hurdles from Dawn Harper (USA) and Kellie Wells (USA). Tonight’s win is her second consecutive crowning as Female Athlete of the Year.
Pearson said: "Awards like this are important because it makes me realise that all the hard work I do is appreciated by others, and that's more than I can ask for.
"The gold medal in London has always been a dream, and to share that with my family and Sharon my coach was so special. Onward and upward though with the World Championships next year where I hope to defend my title.
"Hurdlers in my event aren't afraid to race each other so I will see how they are all tracking leading into Moscow and I will be sure to be on my game, as healthy and fit as possible, to deliver a medal."
Watt won a silver medal at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu (KOR) after a massive international campaign that included the Diamond League title and a new Australian and Oceania record of 8.54m. He then made it four medals from four international championship events by winning silver in the long jump at the2012 London Olympic Games.
Watt said: "To come this far after arriving at the track to see Gary five years ago when I was 10 kilos heavier is amazing. It's something I have dreamed of since watching Jai win silver in Sydney and I honestly have to pinch myself sometimes.
"I am so appreciative of my sponsors. I am lucky to be a full-time athlete thanks to them, and for that reason I am also so amazed at how some balance work and training so beautifully.
"I want that gold medal next year. Silver have been great and the more I look back on London the more I am proud, but I want it and hope to win it in Moscow."
Cartwright earned her accolade as Female Athlete with a Disability of the Year after winning a gold and silver medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games, while O’Hanlon won two gold medals and set two world records across 100m and 200m in London.
Cartwright said: “London was amazing and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to back this up at World Championships next year.
“I just really want to thank my coach and my family for their support. Tim (Matthews) puts up with the many different versions of Kelly, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
O’Hanlon said: “This year has been great, I would have liked three gold medals in London if I am going to be honest, but one of my events wasn’t on the card this year.
“The World Championships, more gold medals and world records will always be the aim but I will sit down with my coach Iryna and see what we can come up with toachieve that. She’s my personal assistant, psychologist, second Mum and coach and for that reason I am so proud to present her with my 100 metre gold medal tonight.”
Also honoured were Kyle Vander Kuyp, Roy Boyd and Geoff Martin.
Vander Kuyp was named a recipient of the Edwin Flack Award as a testament to his years of service to athletics in Australia, while Boyd and Martin were elevated from Life Member of Athletics Australia to Life Governor of Athletics Australia.
The full list of award winners at the 2012 Athlete of the Year Awards presented by Eurosport is as follows:
Edwin Flack Award: Kyle Vander Kuyp
Art Series Hotel Volunteer of the Year: Brenda Pearl OAM
Australian Sports Commission Junior Coach of the Year: Fira Dvoskina
Australian Sports Commission AWD Coach of the Year: Irina Dvoskina
Australian Sports Commission Senior Coach of the Year: Sharon Hannan
2011 Eurosport Outstanding Performance Award: Mitchell Watt
2012 Eurosport Outstanding Performance Award: Sally Pearson
Flame Athlete of the Year: Jared Tallent
Male Athlete with a Disability of the Year: Evan O’Hanlon
Female Athlete with a Disability of the Year: Kelly Cartwright
Life Governor: Roy Boyd and Geoff Martin
Male Athlete of the Year: Mitchell Watt
Female Athlete of the Year: Sally Pearson