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Genevieve LaCaze – still can’t quite believe the year that she has just had!

2016 Australian Female Athlete of the Year

It was always going to be a difficult task to split two athletes who both had exceptional years. Genevieve LaCaze ended up receiving the nod over the recently retired Alana Boyd, although if Boyd had not be injured at the World Indoors the decision could have been a different one. Overall LaCaze was chosen at no.1 by three of our experts, while Boyd actually received four no.1 selections (under the 3-2-1 format). Then we had the final public vote (which counted for double points), which was actually won by Ella Nelson (328 votes), followed by LaCaze (294) and Brooke Stratton (88). So in the end the top-3 athletes for 2016 were:

  1. Genevieve LaCaze – 16 points
  2. Alana Boyd – 12 points
  3. Ella Nelson – 10 points

Our experts selections were as follows:

  • Len Johnson (former reporter for The Age newspaper and regular contributor for RT) – Boyd (3), K.Mitchell (2), Samuels (1)
  • Steve Moneghetti (World Championships Bronze medalist and Australian distance running star) – Boyd (3), Nelson (2), LaCaze (1)
  • Benita Willis (World Cross Country Champion and AR holder over 2000m, 3000m, 5000m, 10000m and Marathon) – LaCaze (3), Wellings (2), Hall (1)
  • Matt Beckenham (2000 Olympian and coach of Olympians Melissa Breen and Lauren Wells) – Boyd (3), Stratton (2), K.Mitchell (1)
  • Nic Bideau (Legend distance coach to the likes of Wellings, LaCaze, Gregson, Robinson and Mathews just to name a few) – LaCaze (3), Wellings (2), Stratton (1)
  • Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson (Sports commentator, event promoter [Communications Manager Parkrun Australia] and all round lover of all things athletics) – LaCaze (3), Nelson (2), Wellings (1)
  • Chris Wainwright (sub editor for RT and RT StatsCentral and lover of all things athletics) – Boyd (3), LaCaze (2), Wellings (1)

So as you can see it was tight contest, but there can only be one winner – so a big congratulations goes out to Genevieve LaCaze for a magical year on the track! We take a look at her year in review:

Genevieve LaCaze – new AR holder in the 3000m steeplechase

  • Ended the year with 17 personal best performances – including 7 in one event! (the 5000m)
  • On the 27th August produced a new Australian record of 9.14.28 in the 3000m steeplechase
  • Now holds the Australian record in both the 2000m steeplechase (6.16.86) and 3000m steeplechase
  • Finished the year ranked no.6 on the 3000m steeplechase, and is currently ranked 22nd on the World All-Time ranking list.
  • Started the year with a PB of 16.05.60 for the 5000m and ended it with a new PB of 15.06.67
  • Finished 9th in the 3000m steeplechase at the Rio Olympics, while also placing 12th in the 5000m final in Rio.
  • Finished the year with a win at the Mitchell Street mile in Darwin

After her amazing performances in Rio, LaCaze posted this on Instagram:

The Olympic Games have ended but what a championship it was. If just over a week ago someone had said I would:
– qualify automatically for the steeple final
– PB in the steeple final – place top 10 in the steeple final – back up 22 hrs later & qualify for the 5km final – PB in the 5km heat – 12th in the 5km final – PB by 10secs in the 5km final
I would tell them they’re dreaming. 💫
Rio, you have been a dream and allowed me to accomplish my goals & see for myself all the hard work I have put in. I can now look to aim even higher. I’m ready to get better & I’m mentally mapping my next 4 years. Thank you to everyone in my corner that has put in the work with me & been apart of the journey. I owe you all ❤️ .

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Dane Bird-Smith – a deserving winner of the bronze medal in Rio

2016 Australian Male Athlete of the Year

This was always going to come down to a battle between our star walkers in Jared Tallent and Dane Bird-Smith (our only medal winners in Rio) and Ryan Gregson (who had a breakthrough year in 2016). The only other male athlete you came close to this trio was Fabrice Lapierre – who was named the Diamond League winner for the men’s long jump. The final public vote (which counted for double points), was won by Bird-Smith (well done to the Queensland support!) (316 votes), followed by Gregson (263) and Tallent (100). So in the end (adding all the votes together) the top-3 male athletes for 2016 were:

  1. Dane Bird-Smith – 17 points
  2. Ryan Gregson – 14 points
  3. Jared Tallent – 13 points

Our experts selections were as follows:

  • Len Johnson (former reporter for The Age newspaper and regular contributor for RT) – Tallent (3), Lapierre (2), Bird-Smith (1)
  • Steve Moneghetti (World Championships Bronze medalist and Australian distance running star) – Tallent (3), Bird-Smith (2), Gregson (1)
  • Benita Willis (World Cross Country Champion and AR holder over 2000m, 3000m, 5000m, 10000m and Marathon) – Bird-Smith (3), Gregson (2), Lapierre (1)
  • Matt Beckenham (2000 Olympian and coach of Olympians Melissa Breen and Lauren Wells) – Tallent (3), Bird-Smith (2), Lapierre (1)
  • Nic Bideau (Legend distance coach to the likes of Wellings, LaCaze, Gregson, Robinson and Mathews just to name a few) – Gregson (3), Lapierre (2), Robinson (1)
  • Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson (Sports commentator, event promoter [Communications Manager Parkrun Australia] and all round lover of all things athletics) – Gregson (3), Lapierre (2), Robinson (1)
  • Chris Wainwright (sub editor for RT and RT StatsCentral and lover of all things athletics) – Bird-Smith (3), Tallent (2), Gregson (1)

So only two experts gave 3 votes to Bird-Smith, but in the end (with some good public support) he just managed to end the voting in front. We take a look at his fantastic year in review below:

Dane Bird-Smith – Olympic bronze medalist in the 20km race walk

  • Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s 20km reace walk – in a PB of 1:19:37
  • On the 5th March produced a new Australian record of 18:38.97 in the 5000m walk
  • Finished 4th at the World Team Cup in Rome, Italy – with a time of 1:19.38 (which was a PB at the time)
  • Won the overall title in Suzhou, China (Taihu International Challenge) in September (which included 2x10km, 1×10.5km, 1x20km races over a 4 day competition)
  • Won the National title over 10000m (38:44.61, which was also a PB)

The classic quote from Bird-Smith after he won bronze in Rio:

I mean, I think I dropped my hamstrings about three kilometers to go, they had just fallen off the back. So I was walking on nothing. I just had nothing left but I hung on and a PB too. It is unbelievable.

Athlete’s to Watch in 2017

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Jess Thornton – a junior star already making waves in senior ranks

As we speak, the 2016 Australian All-School Championships are wrapping up in Canberra, where we have been witness to some future stars in the making (including the 16 year-old sprint sensation that is Riley Day!). It’s always exciting to see the next generation of athletes in Australia, following in the footsteps of LaCaze and Bird-Smith, but away from the junior athletes coming through the ranks, who are other athletes to watch out for in 2017. Well we also asked our experts to nominate their athletes to watch in 2017:

  • Len Johnson – Luke Mathews and Ella Nelson
  • Steve Moneghetti – Cedric Dubler and Ella Nelson
  • Benita Willis – Brett Robinson and Melissa Duncan
  • Matt Beckenham – Haydyn Kovacic and Jess Thornton
  • Nic Bideau – Luke Mathews and Heidi See
  • Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson – Stewart McSweyn and Linden Hall
  • Chris Wainwright – Stewart McSweyn and Jess Thornton

You could add another 15-20 athletes to add to the list, and this just goes to show that we will again be in for a magical year of Australian athletics in 2017. Just a few things we are looking forward to over the next 12 months:

  • The excitement is building around our two junior Olympians in Jess Thornton and Kurtis Marschall – still so young but already producing some special results at senior level
  • We wait with anticipation in what next year can deliver for new AR record holders in Genevieve LaCaze and Brooke Stratton – how much further can both of them go?
  • Then there’s the question of “what could Ella Nelson produce with an uninterrupted season”? Is the Australian record under threat?
  • Is the Australian record under threat in the women’s 1500m, with so much depth (easily the greatest depth in any event in Australia at the moment). Linden Hall has already produced a 4.01.78, and is ready for so much more.
  • Then we have the athletes choosing to change events in 2017 – Morgan Mitchell (400m to 400m hurdles) and Anneliese Rubie (400m to 800m). Both athletes could flourish in their new events in 2017.

We can only sit back and watch what unfolds, but what we do know is that there will be many highlights to look forward to – so stay up-to-date with all the action right here on runnerstribe.com!

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1 COMMENT

  1. Our son is friends with Riley and has competed alongside the talented Riley Day during the last 3 AJAC events in Sydney and Perth, her coach Donna Thomas has prepared her extremely well and the team that is Thomas/Day is very humble and extremely talented…
    Riley Day Ella Connelly and Tamara Hotten are names we all need to watch out for!
    QLD is has depth & has strength in its Junior sector 2017 2018
    Ashley Maloney Zane Branco Ben Schmidchen and Logan Bischoff ..all stars!

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