Matt Wearn has won the WAIS Athlete of the Year award following an outstanding 2018 campaign that saw him medal at every major event he contested.
The 23 year-old collected the award from a field of nine nominees that featured Commonwealth champions, record breakers and tournament MVPs.
But it was Wearn’s excellence in 2018 that saw him scoop the award. In doing so, he became just the fourth sailor to take the prize after Belinda Stowell (2000) and the pairing of Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson (2008).
Wearn won a silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Denmark, which qualified Australia’s spot in the laser class for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
In addition, Wearn won the European Laser crown amongst a world class fleet and also picked up a silver medal at the Tokyo Test Event in Enoshima.
The 2018 WAIS Awards was also a huge night for Rowing, with 22 year-old Annabelle McIntyre winning the Junior Athlete of the Year and the WAIS Rowing Program claiming the Award for best Program.
McIntyre won the award for the second straight year – after she had shared the trophy with teammate Bronwyn Cox in 2017. This year, she was a member of the drought breaking Australian women’s eight crew that captured a bronze medal at the World Championships, ending a 12 year spell without a medal for the Aussies.
A wide return of nominations across this year’s WAIS Athlete and Junior Athlete of the Year awards, points to the high quality work being accomplished through the WAIS Rowing Program. From a KPI perspective, the Program helped graduate two athletes into Rowing Australia’s National Training Centre, whilst a series of home based and previously graduated rowers not only competed but also medalled at World Championship level.
The Program’s culture also earned particular praise with coaches Rhett Ayliffe and Jamie Hewlett along with their support staff, helping to develop and implement a successful talent identification system which has re-established WAIS a rich talent production base for the national system.
Chris O’Reilly was a popular winner of the WAIS Coach of the Year, after the Men’s Hockey mentor received the award for his successful 2018 efforts.
O’Reilly had a positive impact over the past 12 months not only in his role with WAIS but also as the head coach of the WA Thundersticks and with the Australian men’s U21 national team at the Johor Cup.
The men’s hockey program at WAIS exceeded performance targets, whilst he was also influential in supporting WAIS initiatives by engaging his athletes in a gelatine research study and utilising his squad for the piloting of a new Individual Athlete Performance Plan system of which he was also a volunteer for the athlete availability working group.
The Wally Foreman Foundation celebrated a significant milestone in 2018 after issuing three scholarships that take the Foundation’s support to WA athletes past $150,000 in grant provisions in its first decade of operation.
First-time recipients Elyse Ainsworth (sailing) and Anton Zapelli (wheelchair shooting) have joined previous beneficiary and 2018 WAIS Athlete of the Year Matt Wearn (sailing) in receiving this year’s Wally Foreman Foundation grants.
Full list of Award nominees and winners:
WAIS Athlete of the Year
- Brianna Throssell (Swimming)
- Shaun Norris (Wheelchair Basketball)
- Aaron Younger (Water Polo)
WAIS Junior Athlete of the Year
- Hamish Henriques and Ben Gerrard (Rowing)
- Ashton Brinkworth (Swimming)
- Giorgia Patten and Bronwyn Cox (Rowing)
- Annabelle McIntyre (Rowing)
- Jamie Oberman (Water Polo)
- Rome Featherstone (Sailing)
WAIS Coach of the Year
- Chris O’Reilly (Men’s Hockey)
- Belinda Stowell (Sailing)
WAIS Program of the Year