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Contenders stake claim for WA Sports Star title

A host of West Australian sports stars have delivered stellar performances in the last 12 months, with the strength of performances of our top athletes leaving 12 WA athletes vying for WA’s most prestigious sports award when WA sport is celebrated at Optus Stadium on Thursday.

SportWest CEO, Matt Fulton is thrilled to once again acknowledge the hard work and dedication of WA Sports People via the WA Sport Star Award. “Every year, WA athletes excel at both a State, National and International level, and this year is no different. The calibre of talent in this year’s finalist for the 2022 Sport Star is a testament to the strength of the WA Sports Industry, and we look forward to crowning our next WA Sport Star at Optus Stadium on Thursday”

With a history dating back to 1956 the 12 finalists will be hoping to join legends of WA sport who have previously taken out the award, while a few look to add to their tally as past winners.

Madison de Rozario is back among the contenders after taking our her maiden WA Sports Star trophy last year, while other past winners Jai Hindley and Samantha Kerr are also looking to add to their WA Sports Star trophy collection.

WAIS Athlete of the Year Matt Richardson is another hoping to break through for his first WA Sports Star crown, along with Minjee Lee after another strong season on the LPGA Tour.

The 12 WA Sports Star Finalists are:

Madison de Rozario (Athletics), Nina Kennedy (Athletics), Samantha Whitcomb (Basketball), Kristina Krstic (Bowls), Yale Steinepreis (Canoe Sprint), Benjamin Sainsbury (Canoe Sprint, paracanoe), Alana King (Cricket), Jai Hindley (Cycling), Matt Richardson (Cycling), Samantha Kerr (Football), Minjee Lee (Golf) and Courtney Bruce (Netball)

Sport Star Finalists Biographies

Madison De Rozario – Athletics

Last year’s WA Sports Star has continued her reign on the international stage with yet again another sensational year of competition. The three-time World Champion added to her impressive list of medals and achievements in 2022, despite the World Para Athletics Championships being cancelled. De Rozario launched her 2022 International campaign with the highest honour in Australian para-sport, by being named Australia’s Paralympian of the Year in June.

Nina Kennedy – Athletics

Nina Kennedy was arguably one of Australia’s biggest sports stars in 2022! Enjoying an incredible year of results, Kennedy has made a name for herself following a slew of international medals and Australian firsts across the globe. Setting a new Australian Record in 2021, Kennedy entered 2022 ready to take on the world and mix it with the world’s best, and in 2022, she did exactly that. A far more subdued 2022 Domestic Season saw the WA Athlete once again dominant, winning the Australian title before headinfg to Europe to prepare for a massive Championship series.

Samantha Whitcomb – Basketball

2022 was a big year for Perth Lynx Captain. Captaining the Australian Opals in the FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Serbia in early 2022, finishing second and qualifying for the 2022 FIBA World Cup. Samantha went on to be select for the Australian Opals Team, competing at the Women’s World Cup in September 2022. Samantha was an integral part of the team, claiming a bronze medal.

Kristina Krstic – Bowls WA

Placing her name in the West Australian Bowls History books, Kristina Krstic claimed Gold in the Lawn Bowls Women’s Pairs at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. This Gold Medal was the first Gold Medal won by a West Australian Lawn Bowler since 1982 and only the 2nd ever won by a West Australian. Her performances over the past year has set her apart from any other WA representative.

Yale Steinepreis – Canoe Sprint

After many years of hard work, Yale qualified for her first Australian Senior Sprint Team in 2022. Yale reached the A Final of every event she competed in at both ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups, a huge achievement for her first senior team campaign. Then at the 2022 ICF World Championships, Yale pushed her crew to finish 2nd in the K4 500m. This is Australia’s best result in over a decade for that event. Back home, Yale is an ambassador for the Olympics Unleashed program, visiting primary and high school students to talk about her sporting journey, and inspire the next generation.

Benjamin Sainsbury – Paracanoe

WAIS scholarship holder Ben Sainsbury has continued his rapid rise in paracanoe, winning gold in the VL1 200 at the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Canada. The 21-year-old only made his international debut in early 2022, and has now progressed to the top of the sprint to be crowned the World Champion. Ben now has his eyes firmly set on the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

Alana King – Cricket

Alana King instantly became a fan favourite following her successful 2022 season. The star leg-spinner was an important part of the Australian outfit that won the Ashes, an ODI Word Cup, and Commonwealth Games gold in the space of eight months. King earned her Baggy Green against England at Manuka Oval in Canberra on 27 January 2022, becoming the 181st player to represent Australia in Women’s Test cricket.

Jai Hindley – Cycling

2022 saw Jai Hindley skyrocket on the International Cycling Stage. The 26-year-old Bora-Hansgrohe climber rode his name into Australian cycling history in Verona to close out Stage 21 of the 2022 Giro d’italia, becoming the first Australian to win Italy’s prestigious three-week race, just the second Australian to ever win a Grand Tour. To cap of a stella year, Jai won the Sir Hubert Opperman Trophy for the Santini AusCycling Cyclist of the Year.

Matt Richardson – Cycling

Matt Richardson stunned the track cycling world in 2022. Dominating the track at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Matt claimed two gold medals in the Men’s Team Sprint and Individual Sprint. These wins were another notch in the belt for the 23-year-old, who continues to up the ante on an already outstanding 2022 season. Capping off an already phenomenal year, Matt Richardson was awarded Vittoria’s Men’s Track Cyclist of the Year.

Samantha Kerr – Football

Samantha Kerr has continued to excel throughout 2022. Kerr was awarded the FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year. She scored a brace and helped Chelsea win the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, securing the domestic quadruple of the season and was named Player of the Match. During the 2022 AFC Women’s Asia Cup, Sam scored 5 goals in Australia’s opening match of the group stage against Indonesia. In the process, she equalled and surpassed the Australian international goal-scoring record, amongst both male and female Australian internationals.

Minjee Lee – Golf

Enjoying an incredible year of results, Minjee Lee has made a name for herself following her second major career title win in 2022, the U.S Women’s Open. As the only player to not just win one of the season’s five major titles but to also record multiple top 10s in the biggest events of the year, Minjee Lee clinched the Rolex Annika Major Award, an award given to the player with the most consistent record in the year’s five major championships.

Courtney Bruce – Netball

West Coast Fever Captain Courtney Bruce has had a year to remember. She played a starring role in the Fever’s maiden premiership in front of a capacity crowd of more than 13,000 at RAC Arena. A premiership 25 years in the making, Bruce’s performance in defence was crucial to the team’s victory. She set the tone for the team’s dominant win with five deflections in the first quarter alone.

Finalists in Other Categories

Rebel Junior Sports Star – Samantha Lourey (canoe sprint), Teague Wyllie (cricket), Isabella Campbell (surfing), Iona Anderson (swimming), Talia Gibson (tennis), Taylah Preston (tennis).

Team of the Year – WA Men’s Cricket Team, West Coast Fever, Perth Wheelcats Women.

Sport4 Coach of the Year – Paul Burgess (athletics), Adam Voges (cricket), Dan Ryan (netball).

ActiveXchange Official of the Year – Michelle McMurdo (gymnastics), Tim Kennedy (Lacrosse), Kellie Morley (Lacrosse).

DLGSC Administrator of the Year – Troy Kirkham (WA Football Commission), Brett Patten (Tennis West), Robyn Kuhl (Volleyball WA).

revolutioniseSPORT Community Club of the Year – John Gilmour Medal – Mount Helena Junior Football Club (Australian Rules Football), Break the Boundary (Cycling), Gravity ETC (Gymnastics) and Superfins WA (Swimming)

Healthway Healthy Club Award – Ports Football Club (Australian Rules Football), Wanneroo Horse & Pony Club (Equestrian) and Mirrabooka Squash Club (Squash)

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