Leisel's night at swimming awards - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Leisel's night at swimming awards

By Laine Clark 11/12/2006 10:57:52 PM Comments (0)

Not even the return of Ian Thorpe could take the limelight away from world champion Leisel Jones at the Australian Swimmer of the Year awards in Brisbane.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Thorpe took centre stage for the first time since retiring at just 24 last month when his glittering career was honoured in a moving video tribute at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

But all eyes were on champion breaststroker Jones, 21, who became only the fourth woman in 15 years to claim the Australian Swimmer of the Year award.

Jones continued her dominance of breaststroke in 2006, breaking five world records since February.

She warmed up by smashing the 100m and 200m breaststroke world records at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games trials. Jones then backed up to shatter her own 100m breaststroke world mark at the Commonwealth Games.

Jones also won the 50m and 200m breaststroke gold at Melbourne while also chiming into the world record breaking 4x100m medley relay team.

She also twice broke the 100m breaststroke short course world record at the national titles.

The five-time Olympic medallist capped a dominant year by claiming her seventh straight 200m breaststroke title, seventh overall 100m crown and maiden 50m win at the eight-day national swimming titles in Brisbane which concluded on Sunday night.

Jones is now preparing for the world titles to be held in Melbourne in March.

Jones emerged victorious from an impressive swimmer of the year field that included fellow individual world record holders Libby Lenton and Jessicah Schipper and triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sophie Edington.

She also shared the Swimming Australia Golden Moment prize with Edington, Schipper and Lenton for breaking the 4x100m medley relay world record and earned selection on the first ever Australian All Star Swim Team.

Jones also became the first female swimmer to win the People's Choice Award, voted by the Australian public.

Earlier, the crowd rose to its feet when Thorpe was congratulated on his stellar career.

Thorpe was then among seven people that also included fellow retirees Giaan Rooney and Brett Hawke to be recognised for their services to the Australian swimming team.

In other awards, Jones' mentor Stephan Widmer was named coach of the year, Lenton the swimmers' swimmer, rising medley star Stephanie Rice the discovery of the year, newly crowned world 25km champion Josh Santacaterina the open water swimmer of the year and Paralympic star Matt Cowdrey his third consecutive swimmer with a disability honour.

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