Matt Wearn caps off stellar year with top WAIS gong
Tokyo gold medallist sailor Matt Wearn became a dual winner of the WAIS Athlete of the Year at the 2021 WAIS Annual Awards of Excellence at Crown Towers on Thursday night.
It was a fitting way to cap a memorable 2021 highlighted by Wearn’s “victory lap” in the Laser class medal race in July after he’d set up an unassailable lead in 10 qualifying races at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour.
He needed only to start and finish and he did so, marking glorious redemption for missing a spot on the team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Wearn was Australia’s third straight Olympic gold medallist in the one-man class, with the 26-year-old following Tom Burton (Rio 2016) and Tom Slingsby (London 2012).
Wearn was announced the winner from a group of four finalists, including swimmers Brianna Throssell and Ben Popham, along with rower Annabelle McIntyre, who all won gold at the Tokyo Games.
He is the seventh athlete to be named WAIS Athlete of the Year for a second time, having also won in 2018.
Sailing coach Belinda Stowell took out back-to-back coach of the year.
Canoeing took out program of the year.
Meanwhile, Bunbury Paralympic swimming prospect Alex Saffy has received the 2021 Wally Foreman Foundation Scholarship, as he aspires to represent Australia at Paris 2024.
Saffy, 16, who has cerebral palsy and competes in the S9 100m butterfly and S8 breastroke events.
The Wally Foreman Foundation determined it could support Saffy’s career with a grant to assist in his attendance of Perth-based camps to supplement local and interstate competition.
Wally Foreman Foundation Chair Glen Foreman said: “Alex is the type of athlete the Wally Foreman Foundation exists to support – his dedication is clear, with a little help needed to take the next step.”
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