Lydia Ko was awarded the Sky Sport Emerging Talent Athlete of the Decade at a special ISPS Handa Halberg Awards Decade Champion ceremony held at Spark Arena in Auckland on Wednesday night.
Ko’s award was one of many that were awarded for the previous decade, a ceremony that had been held off due to lockdown’s in Auckland.
Ko won the Emerging Talent Athlete of the Decade for becoming the youngest person, at 14 years old, to win a professional golf tour event at the NSW Open on the ALPG Tour.
She also became the youngest player and first New Zealander to win an LPGA Tour event at the Canadian Open at age 15.
In a pre-arranged video acceptance speech from the US Ko started by hoping everyone back in Auckland was having a great time.
“First off I would like to thank ISPS Handa for being a huge supporter of me for many years and also being a major partner for the awards,” Ko said.
“I would also like to thank the Halberg Foundation for everything you do to support the disabled kids in New Zealand and getting them to experience the power of sport.
“Also celebrating and supporting many of the amazing and talented New Zealand athletes.
“I just want to say a huge congratulations to all of the nominees and everything you do to make New Zealand proud. I’m always proud to display the New Zealand flag and hopefully I can help to make everyone back at home proud and excited.”
Ko was also nominated in the High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Decade category which was won by Lisa Carrington.
The winners were selected by an independent voting academy, made up of prominent athletes, coaches, administrators and sports media, who reviewed the finalists list made up of previous category and supreme winners.
The ceremony was a celebration of outstanding New Zealand sporting achievements from 2010 – 2019 and the major fundraiser for the Halberg Foundation – the charity of Sir Murray Halberg (ONZ, MBE) which aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled young New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.
The ISPS Handa Halberg Awards Decade Champion ceremony was postponed from its original date last month due to the change in COVID-19 Alert Levels.
In November 2020, the Halberg Foundation made the decision to move to a decade celebration following major disruption of international sporting competitions due to COVID-19. Achievements from 2020 will be recognised and included in the 2021 sporting year to be celebrated at the 2022 awards ceremony.
“We are delighted that in a year that has been challenging for sport that the ISPS Handa Halberg Awards Decade Champion has enabled us to celebrate outstanding sporting success in New Zealand, culminating in recognising Hamish Bond and Eric Murray taking the supreme honours,” said Shelley McMeeken, Chief Executive of the Halberg Foundation.
Full list of ISPS Handa Halberg Awards Decade Champion winners and finalists:
Halberg Award Decade Champion winner: Men’s Pair, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing)
ISPS Handa Team of the Decade winner: Men’s Pair, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing)
ISPS Handa Para Athlete of the Decade: Sophie Pascoe (Para swimming)
High Performance Sport New Zealand Sportswoman of the Decade: Lisa Carrington (canoe racing)
ISPS Handa Sportsman of the Decade: Richie McCaw (rugby)
Buddle Findlay Coach of the Decade: Gordon Walker (canoe racing)
Sky Sport Emerging Talent Athlete of the Decade: Lydia Ko (golf)
New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment of the Decade: Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan (rowing)
Sport New Zealand Leadership Award: Johanna Wood (football)