Swimming sensation Emma McKeon crowned Gold Coast Sports Star of the Year

Australia’s most decorated Olympian, Emma McKeon, has been crowned the 2021 Gold Coast Sports Star of the Year.

The local swimming superstar beat out Jean Van der Westhuyzen (canoe), Tom Green (canoe), Mat Belcher (sailing), Keegan Palmer (skateboarding), Logan Martin (BMX freestyle), Chelsea Hodges (swimming), Ali Day (surf lifesaving), and Shane van Gisbergen (motorsport) to take home the prestigious accolade at the Gold Coast Sports Star Awards at RACV Royal Pines Resort on Friday night.

The 28-year-old four-time world record holder snared the award, presented by Bond Univerisyt, after becoming the first Australian ever to win four gold medals at a single Summer Olympics at last year’s delayed Tokyo 2020 edition. That effort took the freestyle and butterfly specialist to a total haul of 11 Olympic medals, making her Australia’s all-time queen of Olympic bling.


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Emma couldn’t be at the function but sent a heartfelt acceptance video from her Birmingham 2022 training camp in Spain.

“I’ve had access to some great facilities on the Gold Coast, such as the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, for the past five years and there’s no doubt they have contributed enormously to the success I’ve had internationally during that time,” she said.

“I am very grateful for all the support the Gold Coast has given me,” she said.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games BMX gold medallist and Sports Star nominee Logan Martin didn’t go home empty handed after a ‘captain’s pick’ by Mayor Tom Tate saw him take away the 2021 City of Gold Coast Mayor’s Award.

Meanwhile the Her Medical 2021 Para-Sport Star of the Year Award was presented to canoe sensation Curtis McGrath, who has taken the accolade an unprecedented five times in a row,

The 2021 Hot Tomato People’s Choice Grassroots Team Award was taken out by the Gold Coast Force Futsal men’s team that won the league and finals in the Football Queensland F-League 2021 – the highest level of futsal managed by Football Queensland.

Selfless Broadbeach Cats AFL Club member and Miami High student Braigh Agnew took home the 2021 Eximm Junior Sports Volunteer Award for his tireless deeds in umpiring and helping with coordination of last year’s schools Rugby 7s carnival.

The 2021 Gold Coast Bulletin Junior Sports Star Award was taken by one of the future superstars of Australian swimming, Flynn Southam.

Tribute on the night was also paid to three legends of Gold Coast sport who had recently passed in trailblazing sports administrators Daphne Pirie and Alan ‘Doc’ Mackenzie and Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds.

It was a three-way tie for the 2021 Daphne Pirie MBE AO Spirit of Sport Medal after the judges couldn’t split a trio of outstanding nominees.

The medal is presented to local sports administrators in honour of Daphne with the winners typifying her life principals of hard work, fair play and a love of sport.

Dynamic husband and wife combo Barry and Colleen Gilbert were individually and collectively recognised for their efforts in transforming the Broadbeach Bowls Club from a debt-ridden club on the verge of a takeover in 2008 into the renowned establishment it is today, attracting bowlers from around the world.

The third deserved Pirie Medal winner was soccer mum, long-time Musgrave Hill F.C president Michelle Schultz, who is credited with the dramatic turning around of the soccer club that today leads in on and off-field diversity and inclusion.

A salute was also delivered on the night to the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions thoroughbred sales and raceday which have become solid mainstays of the city’s major events calendar since their founding in 1986.

Sports Gold Coast Chairman Geoff Smith said the awards are unique in that they celebrate not only the achievements of our elite athletes but sport on all levels.

“The event is also iconic in that it was established in 1968 and is based on the collaboration by all major stakeholders in sport in our city, namely our council, universities, schools, business and sports clubs and associations,” Mr Smith said.

Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame Chair Trina Hockley AM said the awards have a rich history and are a critical foundation in the promotion and development of the Gold Coast as a world class destination with a world renowned and vibrant sporting culture.

“The 2021 athletes join an exemplary group of Gold Coast sports stars who have already taken their place of honour at the Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame,” she said.