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2018 Wrap Up: November - Looking to the future

29 December 2018

AOC: November was a time for awards, retirements, tributes and excitement for the future, with some impressive results coming from debuting, returning and veteran Olympic sports.

Olympic debutant sports, skateboarding, BMX Freestyle and surfing kicked off November with some stellar Aussie results, showing the world that Australia is ready and armed for a podium spot at Tokyo 2020.

Brandon Loupos took out the BMX Freestyle National Championships along with claiming a podium finish at the UCI BMX Freestyle Worlds.

Loupos said of his achievements,

“It feels great, I worked hard to get on the podium and after having a disappointing worlds in 2017, to come back this year, feels really good.”

Up and coming Olympic skateboarding hopefuls also had the chance to compare themselves against the world’s best at the inaugural Park Skateboarding World Championships in Nanjing China. 126 skaters from 27 countries competed for a shot at the very first world champs title. 

Aussie teen Poppy Starr Olsen claimed bronze for the women and Keegan Palmer followed up for the men, making it double-bronze for Australia.

Poppy Starr Olsen

In tennis, Ash Barty rose to a career-high ranking of No.15 after claiming the WTA Elite Trophy title in Zhuhai, China - capping her 2018 season on a high note, with an all-important top-16 seeding for January’s Australian Open on the cards.

The win capped another strong year for Barty who had started 2017 ranked 325th in the world after a two-year sabbatical from the game and spending time playing cricket.

She said of her third WTA Singles Title,

“It’s been a phenomenal year and I’m looking forward to a bit of holiday and then getting ready for the Australian summer.”

Barty was also named alongside Alex de Minaur as the Newcombe medal winners at the Tennis Australia Awards.

The Australian Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens competed in the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship, with the Aussie women taking out the title and the men finishing up fourth.

Australian Women’s Sevens Assistant Coach, James Stannard said: “It’s difficult to single out individual performances in such a strong team effort, but Cassie Staples, Page McGregor, Hagiga Mosby and Lily Dick were exceptional today. 

“Importantly, today’s result shows that our pathway is strong in producing the next generation of Aussie Sevens players and every player across the squad will take a lot from this experience moving forward.” 

After going down in the Third Place play off, Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach, Tim Walsh said his side would improve and take a lot from the experience. 

“We came here to perform and continue our preparation for the HSBC Sevens World Series. 

“We performed well in patches but at this level patches simply doesn’t cut it and we need to find more consistency to continue to improve. 

“From a preparation point of view the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship served its purpose highlighting areas that need some tightening up. Better execution in one or two moments delivers a different result.”

The Hockeyroos conducted an impressive campaign, making it to the finals of the last ever Hockey Champions Trophy, just missing out on a record-equalling seventh Champions Trophy.

The third-ranked Aussie women were chasing their first Champions Trophy triumph since 2003 but were outplayed by an impressive world number one Dutch outfit.

The historic tournament is to be replaced by the new FIH Pro League next year, with the competition ending with the Dutch and Argentina having won seven women’s titles, while Australia claimed six.

On the football pitch, the Matildas hosted Chile in a two-match International Series. After initially suffering a 2-3 loss in Penrith, the Aussie side came firing back, defeating La Roja 5-0 to raise the series trophy in Newcastle.

Although it was a two-game series and both sides won one game each, Australia took out the title on aggregate - 7 goals to 3 over the series which meant that Australia would enter the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a seeded team, retaining their world number six ranking.

Hat trick-hero Caitlin Foord said,

“It’s pretty awesome. I’ve been lacking a bit of confidence in front of goal so to put three away today, I’m pretty happy with that.

“I don’t think we played badly in the first game we just couldn’t put it away and they finished their chances and that’s football sometimes.

“Today we didn’t want to do that again and we wanted to win in front of the home crowd and we’re just stoked we got the job done.”

The Socceroos also hosted a tournament of their own on home soil, where they farewelled the legendary Tim Cahill after a dominant 3-0 win over Lebanon.

“This is the only time you’re going to see me cry,” an emotional Cahill said after the match.

“I want to say thank you, firstly to my family. For being there from day one, the sacrifices my family made for me is the reason why every time I step on that pitch I’m fearless, I’m free. Nothing can hurt me on the pitch and everything I do is for my family.

“Secondly, I want to thank my teammates and all the staff that I’ve worked with. The coaches, the players, without you guys I’ll be nothing, honestly, I’d be nothing. The coaches that are not here, the players that are not here, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart," he continued.

“Now, the most important people as well, is the fans. It was tough for me to play for Australia at the start, and I tell you what every time I wore the green and gold I play with my heart. And I never left anything off the pitch.

I don’t want to keep you too long, I just want to tell you all that this is just as much for all of you as it is for me. So thank you very much Australia” he finished.

Cahill wasn’t the only Olympian retiring from his sport, with Kookaburra and London 2012 Olympian Kieran Govers, Rio 2016 gold medallist rower Kim Brennan and dual Olympic kayaker Steve Bird all announcing their retirements in November.

The Australian Men’s Four were crowned the 2018 World Rowing Men’s Crew of the Year at the World Rowing Awards in Berlin while the GOAT, Jessica Fox added “Athlete of the Year”, “Paddler of the Year” and "President's Award," to her incredible 2018 haul.

Continuing the accolades for water sports and debut Olympic sports, the unstoppable Steph Gilmore made history at the Maui Pro, taking out her seventh world championship title and putting her on par with fellow Aussie surfing legend, Layne Beachley.

An emotional Gilmore said of the massive feat,

"I can't believe it, it's so cool. Surfing means everything to me. It has given me everything. It is still my first love.

“Layne, it’s an honour to sit beside you. You’ve been a huge inspiration my entire career. And for so many female surfers, all over the world.

“To equal you is amazing, what an honour. Thank you for setting the standard.”

Aussie Judoka and Rio Olympian, Katharina Haecker also created history for her sport, claiming Australia’s first ever medal on the International Judo Federation’s Grand Slam circuit at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.

After having their sport reintroduced to the Olympic Programme for the first time in 10 years, Softball Australia upped the ante, announcing an innovative and world-leading new competition, “The Summer Slam – Fully Loaded Softball. “

Softball CEO David Pryles said the new “big bash” style competition, will reshape the landscape of the game in Australia and provide edge of your seat experience for spectators and fans, as well as a high-pressure environment for players.

And the Aussie Spirit backed up Softball Australia's intentions, claiming a bronze medal at the Japan Cup.

Olympic triathlete Ash Gentle took out her sixth Noosa Triathlon win, with Natalie Van Coevorden in second and Radka Vodickova in third.

Aaron Royle claimed his third Noosa title, with Max Neumann in second and Ryan Bailie coming in third.

Awards season was in full swing in November with several Olympians claiming top gongs.

Triple Olympian Cate Campbell was announced as the “Sport Star of the Year” at the Queensland Sport Awards in Brisbane, while Winter Olympians Scotty James took out the VIS “Award of Excellence” and Matt Graham and Jarryd Hughes jointly claimed “Athlete of the Year” for NSWIS.

Female swimmers scooped the pool of awards on offer in QLD with Cate and Bronte CampbellEmma McKeon and Shayna Jack, who broke the world record in the women’s 4 x 100m relay at the Commonwealth Games winning the Sport Team of the Year.

Dual-Olympic gold medal winning cyclist, Anna Meares, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for both QLD and her current home, SA, after a stellar career spanning four Olympic appearances and amassing an impressive six medals (two gold, one silver, three bronze).

South Australia celebrated their best and brightest at the 2018 SA Sport Awards. London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic cyclist, Rohan Dennis took out the "Star of the Year" award for the second time running, while Rio 2016 Olympian and Hockeyroo, Jane Claxton claimed the "People's Choice" award

On Anzac Day, the AOC also paid tribute to both Olympians and non-Olympians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries, 100 years on from WWI.

Cecil Healy (swimming), Keith Heritage (rowing) and Claude Ross (athletics) –  each of whom represented Australia at Stockholm 1912, later enlisted to serve in WWI. These three men ultimately lost their lives fighting for the freedom Australians enjoy today, while those who survived created the Inter-Allied Games to brave the long wait to come home from war.

Liana Buratti

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