AUT University’s best sportsmen and women were recognised on Friday 14 October at the annual Blues Awards at the North Shore Campus. A total of 46 Blues Awards were presented on the night with the calibre of recipients reflected in the night’s big winners.
New Zealand Hockey representative Samantha Harrison was named the female athlete of the year and paralympic swimmer Cameron Leslie was named the male athlete of the year.
As well as recognising sporting success, the sportsman and sportswoman awards take into account academic excellence and contributions to the community. This year they were presented to Tall Black Casey Frank and New Zealand Women’s football representative Hannah Wilkinson.
With more than 50 senior caps to her name Samantha, was one of the stars for the New Zealand team at this year’s Champions Trophy where they won an unprecedented bronze medal. Prior to getting the award she admitted to having a few nerves.
“I am really happy to win this especially given that there are so many amazing other athletes here tonight. Achieving something like this is really big for me,” she said.
"Big thank you to Bruce (Meyer) who helped me out so much this year."
Bruce Meyer, the Sport Development and Athlete Support Manager, acts as conduit between elite athletes and academics to assist athletes to manage their workload.
Cameron Leslie represented New Zealand this year at the Para-swimming World Championships in Canada taking gold in the 150m medley and silver in the 50m backstroke. He has also been selected to represent New Zealand’s wheelchair rugby team.
Cameron won a gold medal in the men's 150 m individual medley at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. His winning time of 2:33.57 broke the previous world record by over a second.
After a successful year with the Wellington Saints, Tall Black power forward Casey Frank was awarded the sportsman of the year award. Currently studying for an MBA, Casey was surprised to win.
“It’s great but I honestly didn’t think I’d win so I didn’t prepare a speech because. There are so many top sportspeople here tonight,” he told the audience.
While studying for a Bachelor of Psychology, Hannah Wilkinson made history for Football New Zealand when she scored the final goal in the dying moments in New Zealand’s 2-2 draw with Mexico at this year’s Women’s World Cup.
In drawing that match it was the first time a senior women’s team from New Zealand had won a point at a World Cup.
History of the Blues
A University Blue is the highest sporting accolade that can be attained at University level. They are part of a tradition dating back to 1922 in New Zealand and earlier in England, where the colours of Oxford and Cambridge Universities came to symbolise excellence in sport.