All Blacks and Black Caps dominate Halberg Awards finalists
The All Blacks and Black Caps dominate the finalists announced for New Zealand's premier sports awards.
The national sporting teams provide three finalists each for the Halberg Awards after stellar 2015 campaigns – Dan Carter and Kane Williamson are among the four shortlisted for sportsman of the year, coaches Steve Hansen and Mike Hesson are in the mix for their category and both outfits are finalists for the team of the year award.
Yet the most competitive category is arguably the sportswoman of the year.
Perennial finalist Valerie Adams may be missing after her injury-plagued 2015, but the final four are absolute world class in golfer Lydia Ko, cyclist Linda Villumson, kayaker Lisa Carrington and swimmer Lauren Boyle.
Ko's claims after a year where the teenager dominated women's golf will be hard to beat and she is arguably the favourite for the supreme award, too.
Carter and Williamson are joined by breakthrough golfer Danny Lee and IndyCars champion Scott Dixon in the sportsman category.
Fifteen different sports feature in the shortlist with 16 of the 24 finalists in contention for the supreme Halberg Award.
Supreme Halberg Award holders Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are in line to defend the top honour again. The men's pair is shortlisted for the team of the year against two other world title holders, the All Blacks and Men's 49er crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, along with the well-performed Black Caps.
Para-Swimmers Nikita Howarth and Sophie Pascoe are up for the disabled sportsperson of the year award for their achievements at the IPC Swimming World Championships where Howarth won double gold, and Pascoe claimed three golds, a silver and two bronze medals.
Para-Shooter Michael Johnson who set a world record and won five world cup gold medals is a contender along with Para-Skier Corey Peters who won two golds and a silver at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.
Four promising athletes have been selected for the emerging talent award include pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, who broke a world junior record in December, and double junior world champion track cyclist Campbell Stewart. Tall Black and New Zealand Breakers development player Tai Wynyard and Dylan Schmidt, who finished 10th at the Trampoline World Championships, are also shortlisted.
The coach of the year finalists features a group that guided New Zealand athletes and teams to multiple successes in 2015 including Lisa Carrington's coach Gordon Walker and Hamish Willcox who steered the Men's 49er team.
The finalists were selected by the Halberg Awards judges of former athletes, coaches and sports journalists who reviewed 63 nominations submitted for the six categories.
The winners will named on February 18 in Auckland.
Sportsman of the Year(Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Daniel Carter (Rugby), Danny Lee (Golf), Kane Williamson (Cricket), Scott Dixon (Motorsport).
Sportswoman of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Lauren Boyle (Swimming), Linda Villumsen (Cycling), Lisa Carrington (Canoeing), Lydia Ko (Golf).
Disabled Sportsperson of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
Corey Peters (Para-Skiing), Michael Johnson (Para-Shooting), Nikita Howarth (Para-Swimming), Sophie Pascoe (Para-Swimming).
Team of the Year (Eligible for the supreme Halberg Award)
All Blacks (Rugby), Black Caps (Cricket), Men's Pair: Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (Rowing), Men's 49er Class: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (Yachting).
Campbell Stewart (Cycling), Dylan Schmidt (Trampoline), Eliza McCartney (Athletics), Tai Wynyard (Basketball).
Coach of the Year
Gordon Walker (Canoeing), Hamish Willcox (Yachting), Mike Hesson (Cricket), Steve Hansen (Rugby).