Halberg Awards surprise as Ko victorious

GOLDEN GIRL: Sophie Pascoe with her third consecutive Disabled Sportsperson of the Year statue.
GOLDEN GIRL: Sophie Pascoe with her third consecutive Disabled Sportsperson of the Year statue.

As usual, this year's edition of the Halberg Awards is providing an abundance of talking points.

Most of the results are pretty hard to argue with, such as swimmer Sophie Pascoe picking up a third consecutive Disabled Athlete of the Year award, the All Blacks taking home Team of the Year for their unbeaten 2013 season and All Blacks Steve Hansen winning Coach of the Year.

However, I've got to say although teenage golfing prodigy Lydia Ko has had an outstanding year or so, I'm not convinced the judges got it right by naming her Sportswoman of the Year, which led to her winning the supreme award.

I was expecting champion shotputter Valerie Adams to take the sportswoman prize, with swimmer Lauren Boyle also a very worthy candidate.

Ko's achievements saw her win three professional tournaments and secure a runner up finish at a major championship.

Adams had an unbeaten season, much like the All Blacks, and made history in the process by becoming the first female athlete to win four consecutive world championships.

It's the first time she hasn't won the top female accolade since 2005.

Perhaps the judges thought it was time to bestow the award on someone who is well and truly on the rise rather than an old hand.

When comparing Adams' achievements with Ko's, an unbeaten season and a fourth world championship ranks higher than Ko's efforts on the golf course in my view, when looking at it from a viewpoint of global significance.

My feeling is the same when it comes to the supreme award, which Ko won over Pascoe, Indy driver Scott Dixon and the All Blacks.

I would have loved to have seen it go to Pascoe quite frankly, her five gold medals at the IPC World Championships was an outstanding performance and once again a feat I feel ranks higher than Ko's.

Adams would have made for a fine choice too.

It could be argued that Dixon's third Indy Car Championship crown does so too.

Another issue that's cropped up again this year is the subject of the disabled sportsperson award.

Pascoe and her fellow paralympic swimmer Cameron Leslie have been quite vocal about having the award scrapped and integrated with the main sportsman and sportswoman categories.

Leslie said that apparently the award was described by some disabled athletes as the "token gimp award".

The argument certainly has some merit and because Pascoe has done so well on the world stage, I can't see too many reasons why she shouldn't be in the running alongside the likes of Ko, Adams, Boyle and Lisa Carrington.

The same goes for any disabled athlete who puts in worthy performances.

It's obvious the disabled athlete award still means a lot to a lot of people so it's more than likely going to stay. It does however give the Halberg Trust something to think about.


South Canterbury