Eastern Bay Olympians Lisa Carrington and Sarah Walker have been named among the finalists for the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards.
Canoeing gold medalist Carrington (Whakatane) and BMX silver medalist Walker (Kawerau) will battle it out for the Sportswoman of the Year title alongside two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams and teenage golf star Lydia Ko.
Strong performances at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have seen rowing, sailing, canoeing, cycling and para-swimming dominate the finalist categories, with rugby and golf also featuring as strong contenders for the major awards.
Rowing single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale is a Sportsman of the Year finalist, with gold medallists Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (New Zealand men's pair) and Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen (New Zealand men's double scull) among the Team of the Year finalists.
Coaches Calvin Ferguson and Richard Tonks _ who led New Zealand's rowing teams to their Olympic success _ are both finalists in the Coach of the Year category.
Sailing's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who won silver in the men's 49er class in London, will contend for Team of the Year along with fellow sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, who took gold in the women's 470. The Olympic sailing teams' coach, Nathan Handley joins Tonks and Ferguson in the coach category, which is rounded out by Gordon Walker, who guided Carrington to gold.
After a successful year which saw them win the Steinlager Series, Investec Rugby Championship and retain the Bledisloe and Freedom Cups, 2011 Halberg Award winners the All Blacks join the two sailing and two rowing teams as Team of the Year finalists.
Joining Drysdale among the Sportsman of the Year finalists is Andrew Nicholson, who finished 2012 as the number one world ranked eventing rider; cycling's Simon van Velthooven, who won Olympic bronze in the Keirin and Richie McCaw, who captained the All Blacks through their successful 2012 season.
Para-swimming champion Sophie Pascoe, who took three gold and three silver medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, joins fellow para-swimming gold medallists Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie as finalists in the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year category. Gold, silver and bronze medal winning para-cyclist Phillipa Grey completes the finalist list.
The Disabled Sportsperson of the Year category was introduced in 2011 to recognise the achievements of New Zealand's classified disabled athletes competing on the world stage. The winner of the award joins winners of the Sportswoman, Sportsman and Team categories as one of four finalists eligible for the country's most prized sporting accolade _ the Halberg Award.
The Westpac Emerging Talent award is designed to identify and assist a young athlete in their quest to become an Olympic and/or world champion, and hopefully one day win the Halberg Award. The winner of this category also receives a $10,000 Westpac sporting scholarship.
Once again this year the public has the chance to vote for New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment. Finalists for this category will be announced when public voting opens on January 14.
Voting for the Westpac Halberg Awards is carried out by a 30-strong voting academy comprising media representatives and former athletes and coaches who have excelled at the highest level.
Award winners will be announced at the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards at Vector Arena, Auckland, on Thursday, February 14. The event will be televised live on SKY Sport.
Category Finalists for the 50th Westpac Halberg Awards are:
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year:
Lisa Carrington (canoeing)
Valerie Adams (athletics)
Lydia Ko (golf)
Sarah Walker (BMX)
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportsman of the Year:
Mahe Drysdale (rowing)
Andrew Nicholson (equestrian)
Simon van Velthooven (cycling)
Richie McCaw (rugby)
Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year Award:
Cameron Leslie (para-swimming)
Mary Fisher (para-swimming)
Phillipa Gray (para-cycling)
Sophie Pascoe (para-swimming)
Westpac Team of the Year:
NZ Men's Double Scull _ Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen (rowing)
NZ Men's Pair _ Eric Murray & Hamish Bond (rowing)
NZ Women's 470 Team _ Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (sailing)
NZ Men's 49er Class Team _ Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (sailing)
All Blacks (Rugby)
Westpac Emerging Talent:
Andrew McKenzie (sailing)
Lydia Ko (golf)
Dylan Kennett (track cycling)
Anton Cooper (mountain biking)
SKY Sport Coach of the Year:
Gordon Walker (canoeing)
Richard Tonks (rowing)
Calvin Ferguson (rowing)
Nathan Handley (sailing)