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ASPAs 2022: Harvey’s Donnell Wallam and Busselton’s Nina Kennedy nominated for Emerging Athlete of the Year

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Carly LadenSouth Western Times
Busselton's Nina Kennedy and Harvey's Donnell Wallam have both been nominated for Emerging Athlete of the Year in this year's AIS Sport Performance Awards.
Camera IconBusselton's Nina Kennedy and Harvey's Donnell Wallam have both been nominated for Emerging Athlete of the Year in this year's AIS Sport Performance Awards. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

Two South West athletes who enjoyed incredible seasons in 2022 are set to be acknowledged on the national stage.

Harvey’s Donnell Wallam and Busselton’s Nina Kennedy were both recently named as finalists in the AIS Sport Performance Awards, celebrating the incredible achievements of Australian high performance athletes and sports in 2022.

Both Wallam and Kennedy were nominated for Emerging Athlete of the Year award following their break-out performances in their respective sports throughout the year.

For Wallam, 2022 has been a huge year, from returning to Australia after signing on as a train-on player for Queensland Firebirds following her stint with the Leeds Rhinos, to making her Suncorp Super Netball debut as goal shooter for the Firebirds, replacing Romelda Aiken-George who went on maternity leave.

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NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 26: Donnell Wallam of Australia celebrates scoring the winning goal during game one of the International Test series between the Australia Diamonds and England Roses at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on October 26, 2022 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Camera IconNEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 26: Donnell Wallam of Australia celebrates scoring the winning goal during game one of the International Test series between the Australia Diamonds and England Roses at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on October 26, 2022 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images) Credit: Mark Evans/Getty Images

The 28-year-old Noongar woman managed 519 goals during the 2022 Super Netball season behind West Coast Fever’s Jhaniele Fowler (804 goals), Collingwood’s Shimona Nelson (661) and Melbourne Vixen’s Mwai Kumwenda (540), along with 26 super shots and 35 offensive rebounds — the third highest in the competition behind Fowler and Kumwenda.

Following several standout performances with the Firebirds, Wallam travelled to Birmingham as a reserve athlete for the Australian Diamonds at the Commonwealth Games, making her the third First Nations woman to represent Australia in netball.

Wallam eventually made her Diamonds debut during the team’s test series against England in late October and early November, where she pulled off an incredible lay-up goal in the dying seconds to secure a thrilling 55-54 victory over England in their opening Test in Newcastle.

She finished with an impressive 25 goals from 26 shots in the final test match in Brisbane to help the Diamonds win the series 3-0.

Kennedy also had an exceptional year in the world of pole vaulting, finishing within the top five in all the meets she competed in, earning her a world number two ranking in women’s pole vault.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Gold medalist Nina Kennedy of Team Australia poses for a photo during the medal ceremony for the Women's Pole Vault Final on day six of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 03, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Camera IconBIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Gold medalist Nina Kennedy of Team Australia poses for a photo during the medal ceremony for the Women's Pole Vault Final on day six of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 03, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images

Among the 25-year-old’s highlights for the year was winning bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in July with a clearance of 4.80m, the highest jump by an Australian at a World Athletics Championship meet surpassing Alana Boyd’s mark of 4.60m in 2015.

The following month, Kennedy won gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games with a clearance of 4.60m, before rounding off her stellar year being crowned the Diamond League Champion following three meetings in Monaco and Switzerland.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins congratulated the finalists in all 12 categories, acknowledging the ASPAs as “a true celebration of Australian high performance sport”.

“The fact we have more than 20 different sports represented across the award categories is a reminder of how many wonderful moments we’ve experienced this year,” he said.

“We were privileged to start 2022 by cheering on our Winter Olympians and Paralympians in Beijing, while only a few months ago the nation was inspired by Australia topping the medal tally at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

“It has been a brilliant way to kickstart our green and gold decade towards Brisbane 2032 and I look forward to celebrating with all our finalists and friends across sport next month.”

The ASPA winners will be announced at a black-tie function in Sydney on December 15.

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