24 December 2011
Once again the sporting gods have orchestrated another dream year for the sporting aficionado in 2011.
The top 10 Australian performers of the year, in no particular order.
1. Cadel Evans: There isn't many higher echelons in sport than standing tall on top of the podium on the Champs-Élysées. Evans is a absolute standout this year, for a supremely courageous Tour de France performance that will immortalise the soft-spoken Victorian among this country's all time greatest. Australians were on edge as he took to the time trial around Grenoble, the stage he secured the maillot jaune and international glory with ultimate conviction.
2. Chris Scott: What an absolute dream for a debut coach. While many doubted the Cats' ability to maintain their form, Scott beautifully complemented Geelong's ageing list and managed them to a third flag in five years. The Cats as a unit, despite trailing Collingwood for most of the year, always maintained their sense of aura. Scott can take credit for that.
3. Will Genia: Nominated for the IRB player of the season and rightly so. Genia's combination with Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane for the Reds was instrumental in their Super 15 success. Just a few years ago Luke Burgess had his mitts all over the Number 9 jersey, but Genia's sniping and consistency has elevated him to not only the Wallabies' first choice, but one of the world's best.
4. Samantha Stosur: After disappointment at Wimbledon, and mixed results at the other Grand Slams in 2011, she bounced back with a powering performance at the US Open. In her own words, Stosur can beat anyone in the world; that's no longer just talk. A combination of power and technique, and an injury-free run, have proven to be the right ingredients to surge Stosur to heights Australian tennis has badly needed.
5. Casey Stoner: Was absolutely dominant in a Moto GP season that, sadly, will be remembered for tragedy and controversy rather than racing battles. Nevertheless, Stoner showed his maiden world championship with Ducati was no fluke, a stunning last gasp win at Valencia making it a perfect ten for the season.
6. Jamie Dwyer: Just this month was named World Hockey Player of the year, for an unprecedented fifth time. The Kookaburras' number one is the talisman of the side, who dominated the world scene with victory at the Champions Trophy in New Zealand, with Dwyer the tournament's top scorer, as well as the Oceania Hockey Cup. Dwyer will be hoping to add to his legacy with gold in London.
7. Black Caviar: A unique performer on the list, and in her sport. Is a magnificent beast that has captured the hearts of the country. Was winning with absolute ease throughout the Spring Carnival, with her opponents too intimidated to take on the challenge. Has been managed well by trainer Peter Moody, and in the process has set a new precedent for sprint racing throughout the world.
8. Jason Day: A magnificent season for the American-based Queenslander, who jumped into the world's top ten after runner-up results at the US Open and Masters. Will have been disappointed with his play late in the year on home soil, particularly in the Presidents Cup, but showed signs that he'll be a force in international golf for many seasons to come. Will be eyeing a major come 2012.
9. Darren Lockyer: A sublime career punctuated by an emotional Four Nations tournament win in the UK. Bet we wishes he could take that final conversion kick again though. His ultimate NRL campaign might have played out differently if it weren't for a nasty facial injury, and an arguably unjust finals system. But Locky well and truly left the game on top, a multiple record holder, the toast of Queensland, the crown-prince of rugby league.
10. Sally Pearson: Blew her opponents off the track on several occasions this season, posting the fourth fastest 100 metres hurdles time in history at the 2011 World Championships. Driven but down to earth, Pearson is becoming a fan favourite ahead of London 2012. Was a justified winner of the IAAF's Female Athlete of the Year, despite blemishing her record with a fall in Belgium in September.
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