Reigning world champion Jana Rawlinson was tonight crowned 2007 Telstra Female Athlete of the Year at the Athletics Australia gala awards function held at the Sofitel Melbourne.
Rawlinson claimed a trifecta of wins, having won the title in 2003 and 2004.
She was presented with a $10,000 cheque courtesy of Telstra which will greatly assist with their preparations ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing next year.
Rising sprint hurdles star Sally McLellan, steeplechase athlete Donna MacFarlane and distance runner Benita Johnson were also in the running for the Female Athlete of the Year title alongside Rawlinson.
Domestic and international performances covering the period between April 1, 2006 and October 29, 2007 were taken into consideration by the panel of judges.
Rawlinson’s amazing comeback year has been well documented. After giving birth to son Cornelis in December, the 25 year-old battled a number of niggling injuries before returning to competition for the first time in May, after being on a hiatus since the Commonwealth Games.
Lining up on the blocks seven times in Europe prior to the IAAF world championships in August, Rawlinson claimed victory on six occasions in the 400m hurdles. The super mum dominated the early rounds at the world championships before famously clinching her second world title in Osaka over reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Yuliya Pechonkina.
Pole vaulter Vicky Parnov was named Asics Junior Athlete of the Year ahead of Crowther and world junior discus champion Dani Samuels. The 17 year-old West Australian had her name in the headlines over the last 18 months, collecting the bronze medal at the IAAF world junior championships in 2006, breaking her own national under 18 and under 20 record (4.40m) in June, crowned world youth champion in July and selected in the Osaka World Championships team this year – the youngest Australian ever.
Amanda Fraser and Kurt Fearnley were honoured with Telstra Female and Male Athlete of the Year – AWD awards. With 10 marathon wins from 11 starts and two world titles over 1500m (Osaka) and 10km (Peachtree, Atlanta), Fearnley has signed off on an impressive year. Not to be outdone, Fraser, collected a F37 discus gold medal at the 2006 IPC world titles and finished No. 6 on the IPC athletics rankings this year.
Tasmania’s Helen Lee, who has been officiating at a national level since 1989, and was Post Event Control Manager at both the Sydney Olympic Games and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, was named Accor Volunteer of the Year.
Jenny McAsey from The Australian newspaper, who has recently been appointed to the IAAF Press Commission, was recognised for her outstanding media coverage of athletics, whilst Michael Dodge from the Herald Sun was acknowledged for his brilliant photograph of Craig Mottram training in Falls Creek.
Telstra Male Athlete of the Year - Nathan Deakes VIC/AIS
Telstra Female Athlete of the Year - Jana Rawlinson NSW/VIS
Coach of the Year - Senior Athlete - Craig Hilliard AIS
Coach of the Year - Junior Athlete - Lindsay Burgoyne VIC
Asics Junior Athlete of the Year - Vicky Parnov WA/WAIS
Telstra emale Athlete of the Year – AWD - Amanda Fraser AIS
Telstra Male Athlete of the Year – AWD - Kurt Fearnley NSW/NSWIS
Athletes’ Athlete of the Year – Steve Hooker Vic/WAIS
Accor Volunteer of the Year – Helen Lee TAS
Outstanding Media Coverage of the Year – Jenny McAsey (The Australian)
Outstanding Photograph of the Year – Michael Dodge (Herald Sun)
photo Getty Images