Evan O’Hanlon (Paralympic track and field), Alex Pullin (snowboard cross), Holly Crawford (snowboard half pipe), Nathan Johnstone (snowboard half pipe) and Anna Meares (track cycling) will vie for the AIS’s top individual honour.
Three of the five nominated athletes form part of the AIS’s winter sport contingent, with Pullin, Crawford and Johnstone all crowned as world champions this year.
Pullin’s gold medal in La Molina, Spain, rewrote the record books as he became the first Australian to win a world championship snowboarding title.
However, Meares and O’Hanlon will provide stiff competition, with the cycling and track and field stars both excelling in 2011.
O’Hanlon, the reigning Paralympic 100-metre and 200-metre champion and world record holder, claimed gold in both events at this year’s IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand, as well as a silver medal in the 400-metre, and bronze in the 4x100-metre relay.
Meares again showed why she is regarded as the queen of the track, claiming three gold medals in the keirin, sprint and team sprint events at the 2011 UCI World Championships held in September in Copenhagen, Denmark.
‘For 30 years now the AIS has pursued sporting excellence, and the five finalists in 2011 have all enjoyed an exceptional year,’ said acting AIS Director, Phil Borgeaud.
‘Our winter sport athletes continue to grow in experience and expertise and their performance at the world championships in Spain this year highlighted their talent.
‘Anna positioned herself as the standout women’s track cyclist in 2011, while Evan has proven himself as a world-class champion by beating the best athletes on the international sporting stage.
‘I would like to congratulate all the athletes, coaches and programs who have been chosen as finalists for the 2011 AIS Awards and wish them the best of luck when the winners are announced on 10 November.’
In other categories, Meares and women’s team sprint partner Kaarle McCulloch join the canoe sprint men’s K4 1000-metre crew (Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear) and the women’s double scull rowing crew of Kim Crow and Kerry Hore as finalists in AIS Team of the Year.
The 2011 AIS Awards will be presented at the AIS Arena in Canberra on Thursday evening, 10 November.