Ironman Triathlon king Craig Alexander and Australia’s newest World Triathlon Champion Melissa Rollison have scooped the pool at a glittering annual Triathlon Australia Celebration of Champions Annual Awards Dinner in Sydney.
Alexander and Rollison were acknowledged for their World Championship wins on a night which saw three of the legends of the sport, Jackie Fairweather (nee Gallagher), Loretta Harrop and Emma Carney inducted into the Triathlon Australia Hall of Fame, joining previous inductees Michellie Jones, Miles Stewart and Greg Welch.
The 38-year-old Alexander won the Elite Male Performance of the Year Award as well as the prestigious Athletes Athlete the Year after becoming only the fourth man to win a third Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii last year, adding to his championship wins in 2008 and 2009.
Not only was he the oldest ever winner of the iconic Ironman Triathlon but he also broke the 15-year-old race record, setting a new time of 8 hours 04 mins 08 secs “arguably the greatest ever triathlon achievement by an Australian.
Alexander beat a host of nominees for the Male Performance including Brad Kahlefeldt (ITU World Series winner in Hamburg), Pete Jacobs (2nd 2011 Ironman World Championship) and Bill Chaffey (Winner 2011 ITU World Championships Para Triathlon).
The nominees for the Athletes Athlete also read like a who’s who – Emma Moffatt, Mirinda Carfrae, Emma Jackson, Emma Snowsill, Rollison, Kahlefeldt, Jacobs and Chaffey “but again it was Alexander who earned top billing, as a favourite son among his peers.
Rollison, at 27, was named the Elite Female Performer of the Year, ahead of Moffatt (ITU Triathlon, Hamburg), Carfrae (2nd Ironman World Championship), Jackson (2nd ITU Triathlon, Hamburg) and Snowsill (3rd ITU Triathlon, Hamburg) after being crowned the World 70.3 distance champion in Las Vegas.
She has had a meteoric rise in her new sport, after a celebrated career in track and field, which saw her win the 2001 Goodwill Games Gold medal and 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medal in the 3000 metres Steeplechase.
Rollison only turned her hand to triathlon with her first Olympic distance race in 2010, which she won.
Among the other award winners on the night were: the Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete Award winner: Ashleigh Gentle (Queensland) and the Australian Junior Series winners: Male “Marcel Walkington, Kenji Nenner, Joel Tobin-White and the Female “Jaz Hedgeland, Ellie Salthouse, Tamsyn Moana-Veale.
The evening capped of a huge weekend in Sydney with the successful Dextro Energy 2011 ITU Triathlon World Championship Series opener on Saturday, which saw Australia’s Erin Densham take out her first Series victory before yesterday’s showing of 2,500 triathletes who took up the challenge to swim the Harbour, ride the Bridge and run the streets in the Sydney Triathlon.
2011 TRIATHLON AUSTRALIA CELEBRATION OF CHAMPIONS AWARD WINNERS:
Elite Male Athlete of the Year: Craig Alexander.
Elite Female Athlete of the Year: Melissa Rollison.
Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete of the Year: Ashleigh Gentle.
Athletes Athlete of the Year: Craig Alexander.
Australian Male Junior Series Winner: Marcel Walkington.
Australian Female Junior Series Winner: Jaz Hedgeland.
HALL OF FAME BACKGROUNDER:
THREE AUSSIE GREATS INDUCTED INTO TRIATHLON AUSTRALIA’S HALL OF FAME
Three of Australia’s most celebrated female triathletes Jackie Fairweather (nee Gallagher), Loretta Harrop and Emma Carney have tonight received Triathlon Australia’s highest honour with their induction into the governing body’s Hall Of Fame.
The triumphant trio, along with Michellie Jones dominated the sport through the 1990s and mid 2000s in one of the real golden eras of the sport.
They join three of triathlon’s legends; Greg Welch, Miles Stewart and Sydney 2000 Olympic silver medallist Michellie Jones in a select group of Australia’s all-time greats in the Triathlon Australia Hall of Fame.
Along with 1992 and 1993 World Champion Michellie Jones, the new inductees won six of the eight ITU World Championships between 1992 and 1999 and filled a host of podium finishes and World Cup victories along the way.
Emma Carney won the first of those world titles in 1994 and her second in 1997, followed by Jackie Fairweather with her gold in 1996 and Loretta Harrop who added Australia’s sixth gold in 1999 and a prized Olympic silver in 2004.
Jackie won her ITU World crown after winning silver in 1995 and silver again behind fellow inductee Emma in Cleveland in 1997 and to Loretta in 1999.
Loretta joined Michellie Jones and Nicole Hackett on the start line for triathlon’s Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000 finishing fifth before returning to claim Australia’s second Olympic sliver in Athens in 2004.
She had been crowned overall ITU World Cup champion in 1999 and in her Olympic year in 2004 also won silver in the World Championships in Madeira.
Loretta said she was thrilled to receive the phone call informing her of the induction.
Emma Carney had an extraordinary career, chalking up an amazing 12 consecutive World Cup victories between June 1995 and April 1997 in a reign that made her one of the most feared triathletes in the world.
She was the world ranked number one woman for three years in succession in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and all in all chalked up 19 World Cup victories.
Emma only got serious about triathlon 18 months before winning her first ITU World title in Wellington in 1994 to launch a spectacular career.
Her performances through 1995 and 1997 will go down in triathlon history as one of the great individual performances in the sport.
But viral infections saw her struggle to match that form through 1995 but she dug deep to win silver in the World Championships in 1996 behind fellow inductee Jackie Fairweather before reversing the result in 1997.
Emma was regarded as one of the most punishing trainers in the sport who won her last World Cup in Ishigaki in 1998 before taking bronze in the 1999 World Championship.