The finalists for the 61st Halberg Awards have been announced, with Shane van Gisbergen included among some of New Zealand’s best in the Sportsman of the Year category and Courtney Duncan in the mix for Sportswoman of the Year.
A panel of former athletes and coaches, administrators and media representatives were left to sort through the nominations across six categories and narrow down candidates to five finalists.
Van Gisbergen will be up against track cycling star Aaron Gate, All Black Ardie Savea, Squash champion Paul Coll and Golf’s Ryan Fox.
Ellesse Andrews (track cycling), Erika Fairweather (swimming), Dame Lisa Carrington (canoe racing), and 2022 winner Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (Snow sport) join Duncan in the Sportswoman of the Year category.
If successful, Van Gisbergen will become the second motorsport star to win the title, behind only two-time victor Scott Dixon (2008 and 2013). The 1967 Formula 1 World Champion Denny Hulme won the Supreme Award that year, 20 years before the Sportsman category existed, while six-time speedway world champion rider Ivan Mauger won it in 1977 and 1979.
Van Gisbergen’s nomination comes from a successful 2023 that saw him finish second in the Supercars championship, winning several races, including the Bathurst 1000. He also achieved podiums in the New Zealand Rally Championship and made history when he claimed victory on his NASCAR debut in Chicago.
Duncan would become the first female motorsport or motocross competitor to win her award, buoyed by her fourth WMX Motocross World Championship in the past five years, having won four of 2023’s six rounds.
In the 35 years it has been held, rowers have claimed the Sportsman of the Year Award eight times, two more than cricket players and four more than rugby players.
Athletics have dominated in the Sportswoman of the Year category, winning 10 of the 35 titles, five more than canoeing, with Carrington taking four of those.
The Supreme Award has gone the way of Athletics competitors 17 times, rowers 12 times, and rugby teams or players on six occasions.
Motorsport stars Brendon Hartley and Dixon also received nominations but were not selected as finalists.
The 2023 Halberg Award winners will be announced in a ceremony at Spark Arena on February 14. Sky Sport will have live coverage of the event.
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