Victorian Institute of Sport

Cooke earns Top Award

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Carol Cooke has been awarded the prestigious Victorian Institute of Sport’s (VIS) Award of Excellence at tonight’s awards ceremony, capping off an exceptional year for the para cyclist.


2017 saw Carol Cooke successfully regain her status as dual World Champion in September, winning both the road race and time trial in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Months earlier, Cooke recorded three Para-Cycling Road World Cup victories, including winning both the time trial and road race results in Emmen, Netherlands.


Her dedication to training and bravery to try different training methods saw the 56-year-old record a career best time trial result at the UCI World Championship and run a very tactical astute road race to defend her crown.


Away from the bike, Carol is currently the professional fundraiser and event manager for MS Australia, dedicated to raising awareness and funds for MS research. Carol was diagnosed with MS at 36, and has since acted as an ambassador and role model for those dealing with the disease.


The Award of Excellence is the pinnacle of VIS Awards, honouring athletes who have achieved outstanding sporting results during the year, while contributing to the promotion and development of their sport.


Five other awards were presented during the ceremony, including the William Angliss Personal Excellence Award, the 2XU Youth Award, the Sarah Tait Spirit Award, presented by Gatorade, the Elite Athlete with a Disability Award, and the Frank Pyke Award.


Jacinta Carrol was presented the William Angliss Personal Excellence Award for her academic achievements while competing at the highest level of her sport. Jacinta successfully defended her World Champion water-skier status, while also maintaining a very high GPA with a full study load in her Masters of Physiotherapy at the University of Queensland. Jacinta has also managed to juggle her academic performance with commitments to a second sport, after beginning competing in weightlifting this year. 


The Elite Athlete with a Disability Award was presented to para-skiier Mitchell Gourley. In 2017, Mitch saw ten years’ worth of hard training come to fruition, becoming World Champion in the Super Combined in Tarvisio, Italy. He has also been named Co-Captain of the 2018 Australian Paralympic Winter Team.


The 2XU Youth Award was awarded to Isis Holt. In July, the 16-year old athletics star successfully defended her dual world champion status under trying conditions. Her focus, resilience and determination not only saw Isis win back-to-back World titles in London, but also break her own World Record in the T35 100m.


The Sarah Tait Spirit Award, named after the late Sarah Tait, was presented to para-cyclist Hannah Macdougall. In 2017, Hannah achieved her first World Cup podium and placed 4th in the time trial at the UCI Para World Championships, despite many obstacles. Hannah has also recently submitted her PhD for her Doctor of Philosophy, focusing on athlete well-being.


Australian swimming great and previous VIS scholarship holder, Daniel Kowalski was presented the Frank Pyke Award, recognising Daniel for not only his athletic achievements, but his work as General Manager for the Australian Swimming Association and as a passionate advocate for the LGBTI community. After retiring from swimming, Daniel worked at the VIS for many years as an Athlete Career and Education Advisor for many years. In 1995, Daniel was awarded the VIS Award of Excellence, recognising his achievements in the pool.


The Coaches Awards, given by the coaches to the athlete in each Tier 1 sport who is most deserving within the calendar year, were also acknowledged at the event;



Isis Holt


Samantha de Riter


Anna Rose Keating


David Micheluzzi

Hockey – Men’s

Josh Simmonds

Hockey – Women’s

Nicole Hammond


Tayla Honey


Liam Donald


Laura Harding and Ella Grimshaw


Laetisha Scanlan


Mack Horton

Water Polo

Rowie Webster


The full list of Award winners from the night below:


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