The achievements of stars in sport across the area will be recognised next week with the crowning of our best and brightest at the Rockingham Sports Star of the Year Awards. Sports writer DEAN STACEY previews the who’s who in line for the top gongs
Luke Gaisford’s meteoric rise through the State and national motocross ranks reached new heights in 2011 courtesy of a maiden Australian quad title.
The accolade was latest in a long list of achievements for the former junior champion, who spends much of his spare time training young local riders.
Following a decorated junior career, Gaisford quickly established himself as one of the sport’s most promising young riders when he was crowned WA quad champion in 2010.
He emulated that success again last year, but it was on the national stage where Gaisford really shone.
Racing against a host of former champions, including the highly credentialed Ryan Lancaster, Gaisford finished on the podium in all five races to upstage his more senior rivals.
The 21-year-old may need to make more room in his burgeoning trophy cabinet this year with the national and State titles again within his grasp.
Gaisford was a nominee for three prestigious awards, the 2011 Motorcycling Sportsperson of the Year, WA Sports Federation Sports Star Awards and the Performer of the Year category at Motorcycling Australia’s awards night.
He has also been invited to race at this month’s New Zealand national titles.
Following in the footsteps of her brother, Luke, is no easy task, but rising motocross star Simone Gaisford has forged a similar reputation for success.
The current WA number one, Gaisford has her sights set on becoming the family’s second national champion when she contests the Australian Quad Titles in Victoria later this year.
Victory would take the 19-year-old a step further than last year’s titles where she finished second.
Among an impressive list of achievements for the former the Rockingham Senior High School student was victory at the Sundown Supercross event in Woodbridge and second place in the Hyden Ironman Women’s Championship.
Gaisford will also race at the New Zealand Quad Championships this month.
For women’s footballer Chloe Taylor, 2012 has proved a year to remember.
Taylor shone for WA at the national women’s youth championships in Adelaide and her performances did not go unnoticed.
She was named in the All-Australian Youth side and also broke into the WA senior side for the first time.
A key member of the Peel Thunderbirds for the past two seasons, Taylor first lined up for WA at the 2011 youth championships in Queensland.
Perth Heat’s bid for a third consecutive Australian Baseball League title this season will receive a helping hand from Rockingham pitcher Benn Grice.
Grice’s 2011/12 season with the Heat was arguably his most influential, with the 29-year-old crowned the league’s Relief Pitcher of the Year.
He emerged with an earned run average of 0.95, surrendered just one home run and struck out 25 in 28.1 innings pitched.
In four seasons with the Heat, Grice has won two ABL championships and last year played at an international series against the best teams from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China.
His recent return from a six-month stint in Holland is a major boost for the Rockingham Rams’ prospects in the State Baseball League.
Hockey has played a major role in Standish Salazaar’s life and the 72-year-old has no intention of hanging up his shoes just yet.
Representing WA’s over 70 side at last year’s national championships, Salazaar scored five goals in a single game against New South Wales to finish as the tournament’s leading scorer.
The performance earned Salazaar selection in the Australian Senior Grand Masters side which went on to win a gold medal at the World Cup in England this year.
He has coached a number of teams, including Warnbro Hockey Club’s U16s, Rockingham Hockey Club’s A-Grade women, Mid City women, and Rockingham’s junior boys.
Salazaar is also well known for having a the world’s biggest collection of field hockey memorabilia and mentors at schools.
His 64-year playing career will continue at the national championships in Canberra next year.
Ella Solin underlined her reputation as one of Australia’s most promising young athletes with an impressive effort at the Junior World Championships in Barcelona this year.
Solin registered a personal best time in the 4x400m relay, where Australia finished eighth.
She also excelled at the national junior championships, winning gold in the Under 18 400m hurdles, finishing fourth in the U20 400m and guiding WA to gold in the 4x400m relay.
In 2011, Solin claimed three State titles in the 400m, 400m hurdles and the 800m, and was crowned Australian U17 heptathlon and 400m champion.
In what has been a whirlwind few years for the 17-year-old, Solin was also invited to join the Australian Institute of Sport’s development squad.
Rising football star Brendan Tingey played a key role in helping WA break a seven-year title drought at this year’s U16 national championships.
Tingey played in three matches and was named among the Sandgropers’ best in a win over Victoria Metro.
The 16-year-old also debuted for Peel Thunder’s colts team in 2012 and earned selection in WA U16 academy after excelling for Peel’s development side.
The 2011 season also proved memorable for Tingey, who played at the National U15 Schoolboys’ Championships and travelled to South Africa with the All-Australian side.
He finished the season as Rockingham Rams’ U15 leading goal kicker and earned the club and and the Peel Football League’s fairest and best awards.
A career in the AFL appears a distinct possibility for Bradley Walsh after his eye-catching effort at the U16 national championships this year.
Walsh, who captained WA’s championship-winning side, took home the Kevin Sheehan Award as the tournament’s best player.
The performance earned the 16-year-old selection in the Australian Institute of Sport football program and he will also represent the All-Australian team in a special exhibition match in New Zealand next year.
A member of Peel Thunder’s development squad, Tingey is also a talented basketballer and helped Rockingham’s U16 team down Wanneroo in the WA Basketball League grand final.
In a sport renowned for pushing competitors to the limit, Mikala Falconer has risen to become one of Australia’s most promising juniors.
The Rockingham triathlete captained WA’s School Sports team at the 2012 national championships where she finished second in the individual race.
Falconer also finished fourth overall in the WA Triathlete of the Year open elite division and fifth overall in the same division of the 2011/12 Telstra Tri Series.
Perhaps the biggest moment in Falconer’s fledgling career came when she finished third in an International Triathlon Union event in Singapore last year.
She also finished eighth in the ITU Juniors Nationals Performance Standards and made the 2011/12 Triathlon Excellence Program.
At this year’s Surf Lifesaving State Championships, Rockingham’s Jesika Bussey scooped the pool with five gold medals and three silvers.
She added a further four golds, one silver and one bronze at the WA Country Championships and made three finals and two semi-finals the national championships.
The 15-year-old was a member of WA surf lifesaving development team which competed in a carnival at Manly Beach and also set an Australian record at the national pool rescue championships.
A multi-talented athlete, Bussey finished third at the South West Independent Schools Sports Association’s cross country carnival, is Kolbe College’s swimming and athletics champion and was crowned Rockingham Sharks’ league tag player of the year in 2011.
Another multi-talented sportsperson, Taylor Collard has excelled at athletics and hockey.
She was one of eight WA athletes selected to compete at the 2012 National Indigenous Championships, where she lined up in the 100m, 100m relay and long jump.
Collard represented WA Little Athletics at a competition in Malaysia last year, where she won a gold medal in the long jump, silver in triple-jump and bronze in the hurdles.
Also a talented hockey player, Collard was a member of WA’s U15 side which finished third at the national championships in Sydney.
She plays locally for Rockingham in the Willow Bridge League and, at 15, is one of the competition’s youngest players.
Collard gives back to both hockey and little athletics by coaching and umpiring.
Club of the Year:
Warnbro Swans Football Club
Rockingham Coastal Sharks Rugby League Club
Rockingham Little Athletics Club
Team of the Year:
Rockingham Flames Basketball U14boys
Integrity Hip-Hop—Western Cheersports
Rockingham Stingrays Swimming Club
Kolbe College Open Netball Team
Sportsperson with a Disability:
Volunteer of the Year: