Newly-crowned Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen and world rally stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are among 22 athletes nominated for the High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in the Halberg Awards.
The three Kiwi motorsport competitors were named by the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation as Sportsman of the Year nominees in New Zealand’s most prestigious sporting awards, where motorsport was one of 31 different sports represented. The 54th Halberg Awards received 87 nominations for six categories to honour and celebrate sporting achievements by New Zealand teams and athletes in 2016. The nominations will now be judged by the Halberg Awards Voting Academy and shortlisted into finalists who will be announced in early January 2017 before the awards ceremony on 9 February.
Paddon and Kennard are also nominated for the Team of the Year award this year, an honour they also received in 2012 when Paddon was again among the Sportsman of the Year nominees. This year’s nominations recognise their history-making win at Rally Argentina in April, when the pair became the first New Zealanders to ever win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
This is van Gisbergen’s first nomination for the Sportsman of the Year category, which recognises his first-ever Australian Supercars Championship title which he secured in fine style in Sydney earlier this month.
Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, comments: “Hayden Paddon, John Kennard and Shane van Gisbergen continue to demonstrate their incredible talents, with higher and higher achievements each year of their careers. We were delighted to put their names forward to the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation for this year’s Halberg Awards.”
Scott Dixon is New Zealand motorsport’s most recognised athlete in the Halberg Awards, winning the Sportsman of the Year title in 2008 and 2013. He was also a finalist in 2015, having won the US IndyCar Championship for the fourth time. Motorsport has to go back to motorcycle speedway champion Ivan Mauger to find a Supreme Halberg Award winner (1977 and 1979) and New Zealand’s only Formula 1 champion Denny Hulme taking out the Supreme Award in 1967.