2023 Award of Excellence | Finalists Announced

Who will add their name in 2023 to the Victorian Institute of Sport Award of Excellence honour roll and join the likes of previous winners Cathy Freeman, Cadel Evans, Dylan Alcott, Leisel Jones, Lydia Lassila and 2022 recipient Jemima Montag? 

The contenders this year are Para-cycling world champion Emily Petricola, World Cup winning netballers Liz Watson, Jo Weston and Kiera Austin and world champion wheelchair rugby player Shae Graham. 

All five nominees distinguished themselves with outstanding sporting results at major events while also contributing to the development of their sport and using their influence to create positive social change.  

Graham was a prominent member of the Australian wheelchair rugby team, known as the Steelers, which defeated Canada in the final of the International Wheelchair Rugby World Cup in France in October. 

Watson, Weston and Austin were members of the Australian Diamonds team that won the Netball World Cup in South Africa in July and more recently won the Constellation Cup against New Zealand. 

Petricola is one of the most dominant para cyclists in the world, a fact reinforced by her haul of three gold medals at the 2022 Para Track World Championships and a further gold in the C4 Individual Pursuit at the World Championships in Scotland in August.  

The 2023 Award of Excellence nominees are:  

  • Para-cycling world champion Emily Petricola   
  • Wheelchair rugby champion Shae Graham  
  • Australian Diamonds team members Liz Watson, Jo Weston and Kiera Austin  

The annual VIS Award of Excellence event, this year hosted by broadcast journalist and author, Sam Lane, celebrates the national and international achievements of VIS athletes and, importantly, the manner in which they have sought to win well, in sport and life.  



While the Award of Excellence is the highest of VIS honours, each year the Para Athlete Award, 2XU Rising Star Award, Sarah Tait Spirit Award, Open Universities Australia Performance Lifestyle Award and Frank Pyke Achievement Award are also presented. 


Para Athlete Award finalists

  • Emily Petricola - Para-cycling
  • Qian Yang - Para-table tennis
  • Shae Graham - Wheelchair rugby


Sarah Tait Spirit Award finalists

  • Melissa Tapper - Para-table tennis
  • Rachael Lynch - Hockey
  • Shae Graham - Wheelchair rugby


Open Universities Australia Performance Lifestyle Award finalists

  • Georgia Sheehan - Diving
  • Kiera Austin - Netball
  • Liam Twomey - Para-triathlon


2XU Rising Star Award finalists

  • Amy Lawton - Hockey
  • Charli Petrov - Diving
  • Isabella Boyd - Swimming
  • Keefer Wilson - Skateboarding
  • Leon Sejranovic - Taekwondo


The 2023 Award of Excellence will be celebrated on 23 November. The red carpet event is held to recognise the achievements of VIS athletes throughout a year which has seen many vying to represent Australia at the 2024 Olympic and Paralypmic Games in Paris.

Follow the events proceedings via our social media as we share the award winners and celebrations throughout the evening.

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