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Mottram, Thompson named Aussie athletes of the year

6 June 2006

Distance runner Craig Mottram and long jumper Bronwyn Thompson have been acclaimed as Australia's track and field athletes of the year.

Mottram was also named Australia's international athlete of the year at the annual Athletics Australia awards in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Commonwealth Games 400m gold medallist John Steffensen was hailed as the emerging athlete of the year, while 17-year-old discus thrower Dani Samuels, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, was crowned junior athlete of the year.

Samuels showed great promise when competing at the 2003 and 2005 Australian Youth Olympic Festivals.  

The awards were based on a 12-month period from March last year, embracing overseas and domestic competitions.

Mottram snared a world championships 5,000m bronze medal last year and also claimed a silver Commonwealth Games medal over the same distance at the Melbourne Games in March.

"It's a great honour, I haven't won this award before, so to be recognised as athlete of the year is enormous," Mottram told the award ceremony via video link from London.

Thompson, who was fourth at the Athens Olympic Games, suffered a serious knee injury in late 2004 which threatened to end her career. 

"For me to come back so strongly, win at Melbourne 2006 and be recognised with this award is beyond my wildest dreams," Thompson said.

Disabled sprinter Heath Francis won the male disabled athlete of the year award and discus thrower Amanda Fraser the female disabled athlete of the year gong.

AOC with AAP

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