SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, February 23. TWO months into the new year and Grant Hackett is still reaping honors for his stellar efforts during 2005. The Australian distance ace, who was sensational at last summer’s World Championships in Montreal, has been awarded the Dawn Fraser Medal as the top athlete in Australia. Hackett was also honored as Male Athlete of the Year while Leisel Jones was tabbed as Female Athlete of the Year.
At the World Champs, Hackett registered a gold-medal trifecta in the 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyle events with his victory in the 800 distance arriving in world-record time. Hackett also picked up the silver medal in the 200 free. Recovering from shoulder surgery, Hackett will miss next month’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
As for Jones, who recently posted world-record swims in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, her nod as Female Athlete of the Year was based on her three-gold performance at the World Champs. Aside from prevailing in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, Jones helped the Australians to gold in the 400 medley relay. Simply, Jones has separated herself from the rest of the globe in the breast events.