Australian Sailing Team Laser Coach, Michael Blackburn has won Coach of the Year at this year’s AIS Sport Performance Awards (ASPAs).
Blackburn achieved a remarkable feat at the Rio Olympic Games in August when Tom Burton won gold in the Laser class. This made Blackburn a back-to-back gold medal winning coach following his success in London coaching Tom Slingsby in 2012.
He credits the success of Laser sailing in Australia to a strong squad style approach, which has brought through a depth of talent in the class.
“The key to this has been a really strong squad,” said Blackburn. “There are a lot of guys just nipping at the heels of Tom. He only just got selected for the Games. Tom and Matt Wearn were ranked number 1 and 2 in the world in the couple of years leading up to the Games, so having those guys compete against each other in the Olympic trials made the Aussies very competitive.”
The medal race in Rio for Tom Burton will be remembered for its tactical brilliance and sheer grit and determination, an achievement that was engineered between Burton and Blackburn, who spent several days strategizing that final medal race and preparing Burton for what he needed to.
The other finalists in the category were Western Bulldogs premiership-winning AFL coach Luke Beveridge, Australian Steelers Wheelchair Rugby coach Brad Dubberley who led the team to the Four Nations Crown and Paralympic Gold in Rio and Tim Walsh, the head coach of the Olympic gold medal winning Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens Team.
Burton was also named as a finalist in the Male Athlete of the Year; while Australian Sailing’s President Matt Allen and Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll were finalists in the Award for Leadership for their work leading the consolidation of the national administration of the sport of sailing.
More than 350 guests including sport’s elite athletes, coaches and sports administrators celebrated Australia’s sporting achievements for 2016 at the gala event in Sydney.