Eric Murray is the one to beat
Olympic glory may be the decisive factor when finding the supreme award winner at tonight's Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards.
There are a host of top-drawer contenders for the Supreme Award for Sporting Excellence after the most memorable year in Waikato's sporting history.
However, Olympic gold medallist Eric Murray may take out his fourth consecutive crown after he and crewmate Hamish Bond capped a staggering four-year unbeaten run by winning the men's pair at last year's London Olympics.
Murray and Bond also set a new world's best time for the men's pair during their heats and added two World Cup golds earlier in the season.
That stacked CV may be enough to pip other outstanding performers such as the Chiefs and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic teams, and their respective stars Liam Messam and Laura Langman.
Murray will be up against Messam, fellow Olympians Stuart Farquhar and Bevan Docherty, as well as Paralympian Danny McBride in the Sportsman of the Year category, while Langman is favoured to be the new winner in the sportswoman category, which sees Black Stick Clarissa Eshuis, golfer Emily Perry, Paralympic hand cyclist Sue Reid and triathlete Rachel Hamill also contesting the title won last year by Jaime Nielsen.
The Super Rugby title-winning Chiefs and ANZ Championship victors the Magic look most likely to vie for the team title.
The coach category also features a swag of elite mentors in Dave Rennie (Chiefs), Dick Tonks (Rowing NZ), Grant Bradburn (Northern Knights), TJ Weistra (Waikato Badminton) and John Rangitaawa (Waikato Touch).
There are 16 categories of awards to be decided at the gala dinner tonight at the Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre in Hamilton which sees Olympic shot put gold medallist Valerie Adams as guest speaker.
Team: Northern Knights, Chiefs, Waikato Badminton Wisden Cup team, Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, Waikato Touch Open Women's team.
Coach: Grant Bradburn (Northern Knights), John Rangitaawa (Waikato Touch), Dave Rennie (Chiefs), Richard Tonks (New Zealand Rowing), Tjitte (TJ) Weistra (Waikato Badminton).
Junior Sportswoman: Chelsea Alley, Felicity Leydon-Davis, Hannah Osborne, Julia Ratcliffe, Ella Williams.
Junior Sportsman: Oliver Leydon-Davis, Hayden McCormick, Isaac McHardie, Matthew Stanley.
Sportswoman: Clarissa Eshuis, Rachel Hamill, Laura Langman, Emily Perry, Sue Reid. Sportsman: Bevan Docherty, Stuart Farquhar, Danny McBride, Liam Messam, Eric Murray.