Three Central Coast athletes are finalists in the 2023 NSW Sports Awards with para-paddler Dylan Littlehales named in the Athlete of the Year with Disability category.
Cyclist Nicole Duncan is in the Team of the Year category (with Keira Will) and Matthew Horsnell is up for Coach of the Year.
Dylan Littlehales, of Kariong, is a rising star in the para-canoe sport, making his Australian debut at 15, then hitting international waters for the first time at the 2015 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Sprint and Para-canoe World Championships in Milan, Italy.
Although he was the youngest competitor in Milan by three years, he raced strongly to record a top-eight result in the B final of the men’s kayak KL3.
It did not take long to prove to selectors that Littlehales was worthy of a place on the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team.
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, he placed sixth in his semi-final, finishing just 2.406 seconds behind the fastest qualifier and shaving more than a second off the time he clocked in his heat.
At the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Račice, Czech Republic, Littlehales finished two steps from the podium in fifth place, and he won his first international medal – a bronze – at the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint and Para-canoe World Cup in Szeged, Hungary.
He placed fourth at the 2019 ICF Para-canoe World Championships, also in Szeged.
At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Littlehales progressed to the men’s KL3 200m final, finishing in fourth position with a time of 0:41.280.
Next year’s Paralympic Games in Paris is his next goal.
The 2023 NSW Sports Awards are NSW’s highest sports honours and the 12 category winners will be revealed at Darling Harbour on Monday, November 20.
The ceremony will be attended by the elite of NSW sport as the awards celebrate the achievements of NSW athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and organisations.
Sport NSW Chief Executive Stuart Hodge congratulated all 61 finalists across the 12 award categories saying they performed outstandingly and made an immense contribution to their sport.
“These worthy finalists in each category have excelled at the highest levels, and we congratulate them on their magnificent achievements over the past 12 months,” he said.
“Sport in NSW is blessed to produce so many exceptional athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials.
“Sport is the universal language which binds communities together across NSW.
“(It) promotes healthy living and drives societal change, and our finalists are wonderful examples of inspiration for athletes, coaches and administrators of all ages and abilities.”
Winners will be announced on November 20.
Tickets to the Champions of Sport ceremony are available to the public by visiting www.sportnsw.com.au