Olympians aplenty as finalists for 59th Halberg Awards announced

A huge year for New Zealand sport on land and sea has been reflected in the finalists for the Halberg Awards.

A year which saw New Zealand have its best medal haul at an Olympic Games, the Black Caps claim the World Test Championship, Emirates Team New Zealand defend the America's Cup on home waters and much more, 58 finalists have been announced for the annual sporting awards.

The awards judges – comprising former elite athletes and coaches, sports administrators and current sports media – selected the finalists from 79 nominations received from National Sports Organisations and an independent Nominations Board for achievements in 2020 and 2021.

The variety of success the country had can be seen in the finalists for the Team of the Year, with the Black Caps, Team New Zealand, Black Ferns Sevens, men's rowing eight and the women's pair of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast all having great claims to the title.

Dame Lisa Carrington, who picked up the moniker of G.O.A.T on a boat after winning her fifth canoeing Olympic gold in Tokyo, again is among the finalists in the women's category, alongside golfing star Lydia Ko, three-time Motocross world champion Courtney Duncan, gold medal winning rower Emma Twigg and Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini.

The men's category features familiar names as well. The evergreen Hamish Bond, who was part of the gold medal winning men's eight rowing team in Tokyo, is among the finalists, up against IndyCar ace Scott Dixon, squash star Paul Coll and Black Caps captain Kane Williamson.

There is nothing but gold in the finalists for the para-athlete/team of the year, with Dame Sophie Pascoe, Tupou Neiufi, Lisa Adams, Holly Grimaldi and Holly Robinson up for the award. Each of the five athletes won gold medals in their chosen disciplines at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney, Gary Stead, Gordon Walker and Tony O'Connor are the finalists for coach of the year, while Connor Bell, Cool Wakushima, Erika Fairweather, Grace Nweke and Marko Stamenic are up for the emerging talent award.

The winners will be announced at the 59th Handa Halberg Awards ceremony in Auckland on February 23.

Full list of finalists

Team of the Year (eligible for supreme Halberg Award)
Black Caps (cricket)
Emirates Team New Zealand (sailing)
Men's rowing eight
Women's rowing pair Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast

Para-athlete/team of the year (eligible for supreme Halberg Award)
Dame Sophie Pascoe (swimming)
Lisa Adams (athletics)
Holly Robinson (athletics)
Anna Grimaldi (athletics)
Tupou Neuifi (swimming)

Sportsman of the Year (eligible for supreme Halberg Award)
Hamish Bond (rowing)
Scott Dixon (motorsport)
Kane Williamson (cricket)
Paul Coll (squash)

Sportswoman of the Year (eligible for supreme Halberg Award)
Dame Lisa Carrington (canoe racing)
Courtney Duncan (motocross)
Emma Twigg (rowing)
Sarah Hirini (sevens)
Lydia Ko (golf)

Coach of the Year
Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney (sevens)
Gary Stead (cricket)
Gordon Walker (canoe racing)
Tony O'Connor (rowing).

Emerging Talent
Connor Bell (athletics)
Cool Wakushima (snowboarding)
Erika Fairweather (swimming)
Grace Nweke (netball)
Marko Stamenic (football)

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