South Australia’s top athletes celebrated at SASI Awards

South Australia’s top athletes celebrated at SASI Awards

Last night’s annual South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) Awards held at Adelaide Oval, celebrated the best in sport in South Australia, in what’s been an extraordinary year for high-performance sport.

SASI Award winners

Awards given on the night recognised SASI’s top athletes, staff and coaches across a range of categories, acknowledging their outstanding contributions and achievements over the past 12 months.

The big winners on the night were:

  • SASI Female Athlete of the Year – Madi Wilson (Olympic swimming gold medallist)
  • SASI Male Athlete of the Year – Alex Hill (Olympic rowing gold medallist)
  • SASI Para Athlete of the Year – Paige Greco (Paralympic cycling gold medallist)
  • SASI Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Nikita Hains (Olympic diving athlete)
  • SASI Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Angus Dawson (Olympic rowing athlete)

Presenting the awards for the Female, Male and Para Athlete of the Year last night, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Corey Wingard said it was fantastic to recognise SASI’s top performing athletes in an Olympic/Paralympic year.

“This has been the Institute’s best result at the Games for many years, with 19 South Australian athletes bringing home 23 medals,” Minister Wingard said.

“To be able to achieve that is a remarkable feat when you consider there was so much uncertainty in the lead up to Tokyo and teams were faced with travel arrangements, training conditions and competitive environments unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

“I commend all of tonight’s award winners for the courage, strength and heart they have displayed in order to excel in their field and achieve their sporting dreams.”

For Female Athlete of the Year Madi Wilson, it’s been a huge 12 months where she won a gold and bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and then went on to claim more victories overseas at the FINA Swimming World Cup.

Madi has dealt with some challenging times more recently having been diagnosed with COVID-19 in September and spending the past six months away from home to compete at international events.

The two-time Olympian is currently in Eindhoven in the Netherlands for the International Swim League and said she was “shattered” not to be able to attend the Awards night, but she still got the chance to accept her award via a video message.

“A massive thank you to the entire SASI team – it’s really hard for me to not get emotional when thinking about home at the moment,” Wilson said.

“They’re the most special people in my life at the moment and have made my journey throughout the last year the most incredible thing.

“Not only have they helped me grow as an athlete but as a human being as well, so thank you to every single one of them and a special thanks to my coach Peter Bishop, who is such an incredible guy and means so much to me.”

After not being able to hold the event last year because of COVID restrictions, SASI Director Wes Battams was thrilled the sporting community was able to come together in the same room and reflect on a challenging yet remarkable 12-month period.

“As we continued to grapple with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m so proud of not only the award winners, but every single one of our athletes and the SASI team who contributed to their success,” Mr Battams said.

“The behind the scenes efforts that go into producing elite sporting performances is phenomenal and deserves to be celebrated.

“It’s great to be able to look back on all this hard work at SASI’s night of nights.”

Another special moment at the Awards was the presentation of the Amy Gillett-Safe Award, which is given annually as a memorial to one of SASI’s and Australia’s favourite sportswomen and recognises commitment to sport through passion and persistence.

This prestigious honour was awarded to Olympic weightlifter Kiana Elliott who is committed to dual career activities and is regularly representing SASI in programs such as Olympics Unleashed, the Premiers' be active Challenge and Bone Density SA school talks.

Other award winners for the night included SASI Coach of Year Peter Bishop, who played an integral role in the success of Madi Wilson and Kyle Chalmers at the Tokyo Olympics, and the SASI Service to Sport Award which went to Jamie Stanley, who supported the delivery of high-performance outcomes including five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics.

See media release for more details on all 2021 SASI Award winners.