Three finalists chase Team of the Year honours
The Southland Sharks, the Southern Steel and the New Zealand team sprint pairing of Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming will be recognised as finalists at the ILT Southland Sports Awards on Friday night.
It’s certainly a tough category, with national basketball and netball titles and the fastest women’s sprint pairing in New Zealand cycling history vying for the Southland Kia Team of the Year category.
Southland cycling representatives Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen are a relatively new combination but had a strong campaign throughout 2018.
They claimed silver in the team sprint behind a powerful Australian combination at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and climbed to a career-high world ranking of fourth – the best-ever for a New Zealand women’s sprint team – before Cumming was forced to the sidelines for hip surgery.
The Southland Sharks finished the 2018 regular season with a 13-5 winning record which qualified them second heading into the National Basketball League’s Final Four weekend.
After beating the Nelson Giants in the semi-final, the Sharks overcame the highly-fancied Wellington Saints in the final for the team’s third national title in the space of nine years.
The Southern Steel also finished the ANZ Premiership regular season as runners-up and went into the final against the Central Pulse as the underdog.
Despite trailing by as many as 11 goals, the Steel managed to steal the game in the dying moments to record back-to-back national titles.
The finalists for all eight categories – ILT Senior Sportsperson, Vodafone Junior Sportsperson, Southland Kia Team of the Year, Ricoh Coach of the Year, Creation Signs Official of the Year, NZME Masters Achievement, BDO Administrator of the Year, Southland Times People’s Choice Sporting Moment and Sport Southland Services to Sport – will be announced at a gala function on Friday night at the Ascot Park Hotel.