An epic year for Waikato sport should have the judges' heads aching when they are required to find winners for the 2012 Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards.
Yesterday the finalists were announced for the 16 categories, and the winners will be revealed at the gala dinner on Thursday, January 31, at the Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre in Hamilton.
Finalists were selected from District Sports Awards and Waikato Secondary Schools Sports Awards winners, and the event showcases achievement from local club level through to high-performance triumphs.
Olympic rowing gold medallist Eric Murray is on track to claim a record fourth consecutive Supreme Award for Sporting Excellence after being named again as one of five contenders for the Sportsman title.
The 30-year-old won gold at London in the men's pair with Hamish Bond, as the duo continued their remarkable unbeaten streak which dates back to 2009.
In their heat they took six seconds off the world-record time before winning their final by the same duration.
Earlier in the year they also won the two world cup events they competed in.
The others in the Sportsman category are Olympic triathlete Bevan Docherty, Olympic javelin thrower Stuart Farquhar, Paralympic rower Danny McBride and All Black Liam Messam.
There will be a fresh winner in the Sportswoman category, with no sign of Jaime Nielsen, who triumphed last year.
Silver Fern netballer Laura Langman is joined by Black Stick Clarissa Eshuis, golfer Emily Perry, Paralympic hand cyclist Sue Reid and triathlete Rachel Hamill.
The Waikato Wisden Cup badminton side is again in the Team category after a third straight national title, though it will face stiff competition.
Other finalists are the Chiefs rugby team, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic netball side, the Northern Knights cricket team and Waikato women's touch side.
Vying for the Coach award are Dave Rennie (Chiefs), Dick Tonks (Rowing NZ), Grant Bradburn (Northern Knights), TJ Weistra (Waikato Badminton) and John Rangitaawa (Waikato Touch).
Winners will also be announced for Junior Sportsman and Junior Sportswoman. There is also an award for Administrator and Referee/Umpire, while there are three Club categories, four School categories, and Service to Sport recipients.
Olympic shot put gold medallist Valerie Adams will be the guest speaker at the event.
Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased from Sport Waikato, Akoranga Road, Hamilton, Phone (07) 858 5388.
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