29 November 2023
Australia’s dominant year in the pool has seen Swimming Australia take out a host of awards at the AIS Sport Performance Awards (ASPAs) at Centrepiece in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
In front of 380 people, swimming collected six trophies including High Performance Program of the Year as well as Mollie O’Callaghan being recognised for Performance of the Year for her memorable 200m freestyle world record at the World Championships in July.
The other seven categories were spread evenly across athletes and teams from different organisations including netball, sailing, athletics, boccia, archery and cricket while Lauren Parker won the Female Para-Athlete of the Year award for obtaining world championship status in both cycling and triathlon.
The Female Able-Athlete of the Year title went to swimmer Kaylee McKeown who became the first female to win the backstroke treble across 50m, 100m and 200m at the World Aquatics Championships in July, as well as setting the world record in the 200m at the NSW State Championships.
Fellow swimmer Alexa Leary won the Emerging Athlete of the Year award for her performances at the 2023 Para World Swimming Championships in Manchester.
James Turner was recognised as the Male Para-Athlete of the Year for winning gold in the T36 100 and 400 metre events in Paris while the Male Able-Athlete of the Year was taken out by sailing’s Matt Wearn.
The Team of the Year Award went to Boccia’s BC3 Pairs Team of Daniel Michel, Ashlee Maddern, and Jamieson and Amanda Leeson who recorded a 21-match winning streak through 2023 to beat out fellow finalists from paddle, netball, athletics, bowls and hockey.
The second ever Win Well Award went to Archery Australia’s High Performance program while Swimming Australia Head Coach Rohan Taylor was a deserving winner of Coach of the Year for the Dolphin’s record breaking performance at the world championships which included 13 gold medals.
Cricket Australia made it back-to-back Volunteer of the Year awards with inspirational teenager Elysa Oliveri recognised for her contribution to making cricket a game for all abilities, including people with vision, intellectual and physical impairments.
Netballer Amy Parmenter’s commitment to raising awareness and fighting sarcoma saw her take out the Community Engagement Award while Jessica Corones from Swimming Australia won the Award for Leadership.
19-year-old swimming sensation O’Callaghan, who couldn’t be there on the night due to training commitments, said she was thrilled to be recognised with the Performance of the Year.
“It’s a huge honour to receive this award and I’d like to congratulate my fellow finalists,” O’Callaghan said.
“This wouldn’t be possible without the support of my coach Dean Boxall, my sponsors and the AIS.”
The ASPAs are the country's only national awards that celebrate the best and brightest across both able and para sport, with many of the achievements of the 2023 nominees a sign of what Australian sport fans can look forward to at next year's 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Australian Sports Commission (ASC) CEO Kieren Perkins said the event was a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements by Australian athletes throughout 2023.
“The ASPAs are always a great occasion and it reminds us why we do what we do,” Perkins said.
“For many here tonight, the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games is about performing when it matters.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Australian Government for their support in making this possible through the significant investment they make in sport in this country.
“The high calibre of performances we are celebrating tonight is a reflection that the united approach across the sector is working.
“The ASPAs are about performance, both in name and in judging criteria and I’d like to congratulate all the finalists and winners tonight.”
2023 ASPAs Award Winners:
Emerging Athlete of the Year: Alexa Leary, Swimming Australia
Community Engagement Award: Amy Parmenter, Netball Australia
Award for Leadership: Jessica Corones, Swimming Australia
High Performance Program of the Year: The Dolphins, Swimming Australia
Volunteer of the Year: Elysa Oliveri, Cricket Australia
Male Able-Athlete of the Year: Matt Wearn, Australian Sailing
Male Para-Athlete of the Year: James Turner, Athletics Australia
Female Para-Athlete of the Year: Lauren Parker, AusTriathlon & AusCycling
Female Able-Athlete of the Year: Kaylee McKeown, Swimming Australia
Win Well Award: Archery Australia
Coach of the Year: Rohan Taylor, Swimming Australia
Team of the Year: BC3 Pairs, Boccia Australia
Performance of the Year: Mollie O’Callaghan, Swimming Australia