The 2011-12 Kellogg’s Nutri Grain IronMan Series and IronWoman Series have produced the full gamut of performances and results.From elation to heartache, breakthrough victories and stories of redemption to disqualifications and broken bodies, this summer has had it all.
On Sunday the winners of the Grant Kenny and Karla Gilbert medals for the overall champion Nutri Grain IronMan and IronWoman will be crowned on world famous Noosa Heads beach. The winners will be most deserving. On Monday night at a gala dinner, that will also honour the latest inductees into the Ironman Hall of Fame, the inaugural Red Bull ‘Athlete’s Athlete’ Award, and with it $5000, will be bestowed on two deserving winners.
The voting criteria for the award, voted by the athletes, for the athletes, includes the most inspiring performance, professionalism, fair play and sportsmanship, and passion for the sport. The list of hot contenders is long. Danielle Allen and Kendrick Louis showed wills of iron when, in the middle of break through seasons, suffered summer-ending injuries in the heat of Perth, only to battle on as far as their damaged legs would allow them.
Top favourites also include Nutri-Grain Series champion elect Ali Day and IronWoman Series leader Kristyl Smith, who is in position to claim the first series title of her stellar 13-year professional career.
Some voters may look at the sportsmanship of Ky Hurst, who handled his untimely disqualification in the opening Eliminator race in Newcastle with the class and humility befitting a dual Olympian and seven-time Australian Ironman champion. Or Courtney Hancock and Liz Pluimers who faced the cameras just seconds after crushing results appeared to harpoon their series chances.
Then there are those with unparalleled passion for ironman racing. We’re talking Candice Falzon, who broke through for her first career win at Coolum after three years out of the professional series, or Kirsty Holmes and Phil Clayton who at 38 and 35 respectively returned to the series this season.
Stay tuned on Monday night to find out who has shone in the eyes of their peers to take home the first ever Red Bull ‘Athlete’s Athlete’ Award.