Glasgow Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist Michael Shelley (Qld) and new Australian javelin record holder Kim Mickle (WA) are the toast of the Australian athletics world tonight, with the duo declared the 2014 Athletes of the Year by Athletics Australia at a gala awards ceremony in Melbourne.
Sharing the spotlight with Para-Athletes of the Year Angela Ballard (NSW) and Michael Roeger (SA) and high jump charge Eleanor Patterson (Vic), who was declared the best Australian Junior, the quintet were rewarded for their stunning success this year both domestically as part of the National Athletics Series and on the world stage at events including the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Shelley edged out fellow finalists Hamish Peacock (Tas, javelin), Jared Tallent (Vic, 50km walk), Dane Bird-Smith (Qld, 20km walk) and Jeff Riseley (Vic, 800m, 1500m) in the voting to secure his first Male Athlete of the Year Award.
His win caps off a simply breathtaking year for the endurance star that includes victory in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, a memorable gold medal in the marathon at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and his recent inclusion on the shortlist of finalists for the coveted ‘The Don’ Award.
“Thank you to Athletics Australia for this great honour, and congratulations to all the nominees on their great years as well,” Shelley, who was unable to attend the event due to competition commitments, said.
“I thank my Mum and Dad for giving up so much and working so hard to give me the opportunities I have received. To my coach Dick (Telford), you have not just been a great coach over the past 12 years but also a great friend. I am forever grateful for your coaching guidance and I am looking forward to continuing to achieve the goals we have set for the future.
“And I would like to thank all the volunteers who give up their time at fun runs and track meets around Australia for us to participate and do our very best. Without them our sport doesn’t work.
Edging out the Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld) by just one vote, as well as fellow finalists and Glasgow gold medallists Dani Samuels (NSW), Alana Boyd (Qld) and Patterson, Mickle was declared Female Athlete of the Year in the most hotly contested of the categories at tonight’s event.