2016 has been a big year for sport in Bunbury with many athletes shining locally, nationally and on the world stage. Here are some of the best performers in our eyes.
Male Athlete of the year: Murray Goodwin – Cricket
He might be 44 years old but Colts cricketer Murray Goodwin is averaging 274.5 with the bat having finished not out five times in seven games during season 2016/17. His stunning run of form includes one century and five half centuries (four not out). Unbelievable figures by anyone’s standards.
Female Athlete of the year: Dena English – Basketball
Dena English had a break out season with the South West Slammers, playing all 22 games and scoring 284 points. She was also selected to join the State Basketball League All-Stars team that took to the court on WA Day. While the Slammers had a tough season, players like English give them hope for the future.
Best male athlete under 18yo: Jaiden Lanigan – Speed Skating
Bunbury in line speed skater Jaiden Lanigan won a silver medal in China for the International Open Marathon. The winner Darren de Souza from France beat Lanigan by less than a second after 42 grueling kilometres of competition. With a growing number of international competitions under his belt, this won’t be the last you hear of Lanigan, who is also a handy cyclist.
Best female athlete under 18yo: Samantha Blackham – Underwater Hockey
Despite still being the tender age of 14, Bunbury’s Samantha Blackham travelled to Hobart to join the Australian under 19 B-grade women’s team that competed in the Underwater Hockey Trans Tasman event. This rapidly growing sport is one the South West seems to excel in so it’s safe to suggest Blackham has a bright future ahead of her.
Team of the year: Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault Football Club
The HBL Lions had an unprecedented amount of success in 2016 with both the colts and reserves sides winning all 18 games of the regular season and snaring two convincing premiership wins on grand final day. Add in a finals appearance for the league side and there was a lot to roar about at Brunswick Oval this season.
Junior team of the year: Australind Junior Soccer Club
The Australind Junior Soccer Club under 13s were relegated into a Perth competition after three games locally because they were simply too good. They then won the Perth league without losing a single game in 2016.
Coach of the year: Shane Jerret-Brown – Bunbury Bulls Junior Rugby
Shane Jerret-Brown displayed strong leadership and player development to get the Bunbury Bulls under 17 academy side to the Perth Swan League grand final where, unfortunately, they went down by one point.
Memorable moment: Reece Blechynden’s goal to knock out HBL
A goal to Harvey Bulls player Reece Blechynden after the siren gave his side an elimination win over Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault. Not bad for a side that finished the regular season in fifth and were taking on their cross-town rivals who finished second.
Best comeback: Alex Hagan – Rowing
Just 10 days to go until the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, a ban imposed on a Russian rowing team opened the door for Bunbury’s Alex Hagan, 25, to compete as a member of the Australian Women’s Eight rowing squad.
Honorable mention: The Bunbury Mail rowing team
While on the subject of rowing, this can’t go unmentioned. An editorial from journalist Blayde Grzelka about Bunbury’s lack of exercise (and his own) convinced Bunbury Rowing Club to throw the Mail a challenge. Four members of the paper formed a rowing team and got to work training for the club’s Zero to Hero Rowing Regatta. Come race day, they scored two seconds and looked like they were in trouble early in their third and final race. Cue a remarkable comeback…
Breakthrough performance: Damian Lane – Jockey
Bunbury jockey Damian Lane continued to go from strength to strength in 2016. The Melbourne-based hoop started the year with a secondment to Hong Kong where he rode plenty of winners. He then finished seventh in the Melbourne Cup aboard outsider Beautiful Romance and finished the year in his birth state, winning his first WA Group One race, the WA Guineas, aboard Variation (which you can watch below).
Athlete we will miss most in 2017: Brad Scott – Paralympic Runner
Bunbury paralympian Brad Scott finished sixth in Rio and then announced his retirement from running, 10 years after his first athletics race. In a decorated career, Scott who was born with cerebral palsy, won a silver medal in the T37 800 metres in Beijing, just two years after he started running. He then won bronze in the same event in London 2012 and won a silver medal in the T37 1500 metres.
Male to watch in 2017:Josh Risdon – Soccer
Bunbury soccer star Josh Risdon was named a number of times in the Australian Socceroos squad this year, travelling to England and Thailand in the process. He also had a really solid year for Perth Glory and was named in the Professional Footballers Australia Team of the 2015/16 season. Look for him to cement a spot in the Australian squad next year.
Female to watch in 2017: Lucy Warwick – Jockey
Myalup jockey Lucy Warwick started 2016 with a bang, winning both the Albany Cup and the Pinjarra Cup within a week aboard Zarantz. The former Australind Senior High School student then won half the card at a Belmont meeting in June which included the Hyperion Stakes aboard Wink And A Nod. Warwick left the saddle for the last few months of the year, citing a need for some personal time but just recently she confirmed she feels fit and well. With Warwick set to start racing again in February, we have no doubt she will boot home plenty of winners in the new year.
Best performance on the big stage: Ryan Bailie – Triathlete
Bunbury triathlete Ryan Bailie finished tenth in the triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympic. Making his Olympic debut in the field of 55 competitors, Bailie was the tenth competitor across the finish line in a time of 1:47.02, two minutes and one second behind the winner and just 20 seconds behind his Australian teammate Aaron Royle who finished ninth. A performance we can all be very proud of.
The one that got away: SWFL at the Landmark Country Football Championships
Looking for their sixth straight Landmark Country Football Championship title, the South West Football League side met the Peel Cavaliers in the 2016 grand final at Perth’s Medibank Stadium. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers were too good on the day, winning 13.6 (84) to 7.12 (54).
A lifetime of achievement: Justin Warren – Taekwondo
Master Justin Warren celebrated 30 years in martial arts by earning his sixth dan black belt in Taekwondo. Warren’s main martial arts is Taekwondo but he also holds a black belt rank in judo, Japanese jujitsu and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has his eye on a weapons based art next.