Scotty James carves his name into VIS history as the first snowboarder to win the Award of Excellence

Scotty James capped off his standout performances in the sporting arena in 2018 by taking out the prestigious VIS Award of Excellence at the event last night in Melbourne.

The function was held at Carousel on Albert Park Lake and was attended by over 300 VIS athletes, staff, partners and stakeholders. It recognised and celebrated the outstanding sporting achievements of VIS athletes from a year which brought us the PyeongChang Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Six main awards were presented including the coveted Award of Excellence, the Para Athlete Award, 2XU Rising Star Award, the Sarah Tait Spirit Award, the William Angliss Personal Excellence Award and the very special Frank Pyke Achievement Award. In addition, a Coach Award is given to one athlete in each Tier 1 sport who is most deserving within this calendar year.

Award of Excellence:

The Award of Excellence, the pinnacle of VIS Awards, honours the athlete who has achieved outstanding sporting results at major events during the year, while contributing to the promotion and development of their sport and/or made a significant contribution to society beyond pure sporting performance. This award has been previously won by notable champions such as Catherine Freeman, Lydia Lassila, Cadel Evans, Mack Horton and Dylan Alcott.

At the age of 23, Scotty created history as the first Australian male to win a snowboard Olympic medal at PyeongChang 2018. A consistent performer, the 2016 & 2017 World Champion, came away with the bronze medal for Australia with a top score of 92.00 in the Men’s Halfpipe final.

He only narrowly missed out on the title by putting a hand down on his last trick, a switch backside 1260, which is the most technical trick in the sport and never performed at an Olympic Games before. American snowboarding legend Shaun White claimed gold with an untouchable 97.75 and Japan's Ayumu Hirano finished second with a score of 95.25 in the best Halfpipe final the Olympics has ever seen.

Scotty was recognised for his leadership by being named Australia’s flagbearer for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. He is an active role model and mentor within his sport as well as a great ambassador for winter sports and the sporting community. He has played an active leadership role within the newly structured National Park & Pipe Program which targets young athletes with potential to be medal contenders at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Scotty has also recently been working closely with the OWIA and Mt Buller to secure the best possible National training facility for Halfpipe here in Victoria. He has spent considerable time and effort to try to bring this to fruition and has gladly volunteered his time and effort to assist with this project.

Unfortunately, Scotty was unable to attend the event due to his training schedule in Europe, but his Mum Celia and sister Rebecca, accepted the award on his behalf. However, in true Scotty-style, the loveable boy from Warrandyte prepared this unique acceptance message;

Frank Pyke Achievement Award

Australian Paralympic great and one of the longest serving VIS scholarship holders, Don Elgin, was presented with the very special Frank Pyke Achievement Award, recognising him for not only his athletic achievements, but for his work outside of the sporting arena.

Being born without the lower portion of his left leg was no barrier for Don - he represented Australia in Para-athletics at four World Championships, three Paralympic Games, two World Cups and a Commonwealth Games.

Throughout his sporting career, Don was a regular motivational speaker and facilitator in a vast array of organisations and was very active in the community holding several board and voluntary positions.

After competing, Don put his leadership skills to work as an Australian Team Manager at the 2011 World Athletics Championships and was a section manager for the Australian Athletics Team at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

The Sarah Tait Spirit Award, presented by Gatorade:

The Sarah Tait Spirit Award, named after the late rower Sarah Tait, was presented by former VIS athlete and Olympic silver medallist Matt Ryan to resilient rower, Fiona Albert. Like the Award’s namesake, Fiona is an inspiration in life as well as rowing and is a fantastic role model to athletes, both past and present.

Fiona sustained a severe back injury in 2017 which required surgery. Despite this and other challenging personal? setbacks, she has shown courage, commitment and persistence to regain selection on the Australian Rowing Team. She is busy chasing her dreams as a successful lawyer in estate planning, and is driven to compete at a second Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

William Angliss Personal Excellence Award:

Milly Tapper was presented the William Angliss Personal Excellence Award for her academic achievements while competing at the highest level of her sport of table tennis. Milly, who created history as the first Australian to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games at Rio 2016, won Australia’s first table tennis Commonwealth Games gold medal on the Gold Coast in the women’s singles TT6-10.

In 2018, Milly also completed a Diploma of Conveyancing and was heavily involved in the VIS Community Programs as part of VIS Tours and the BeFit. BeWell. schools visit program. In her spare time (!), Milly works as the Office Manager at Coolabah Law Chambers and is a friendly face on VIS Reception.

Para Athlete Award:

The Para Athlete Award was presented to Para-cyclist Alistair Donohoe, who was crowned World Champion for the fourth time in his career at the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Italy. Donohoe claimed the gold medal by completing the six lap 81.6km course in 1:51:20 to edge out Ukrainian Yehor Dementyev by 24 seconds.

After the disappointment at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Alistair encountered several personal hurdles. He faced his challenges in the most inspiring and brave manner and bounced back to career best form in 2018. He was thrilled to receive the accolade at last night’s event.

2XU Rising Star Award:

Following the exciting announcement that 2XU are the new Official Apparel and Corporate Uniform provider of the VIS, 2XU’s General Manager for Global Custom wear, Ben Smith, presented the Rising Star Award.

The 2018 award was presented to talented teenage cyclist Kelland O’Brien. At 19-years of age and only just old enough to represent Australia at senior international level, O'Brien combined with Alex Porter, Sam Welsford and Leigh Howard to smash the Men's Team Pursuit World Record on their way to Commonwealth Games victory at the Anna Meares Velodrome on the Gold Coast in April.

Unfortunately, Kel was unable to attend the event due to his training and competition schedule, but his parents and sister attended on his behalf.


2018 Award of Excellence – Scotty James

2018 Frank Pyke Achievement Award – Don Elgin

2018 2XU Rising Star Award – Kelland O’Brien

2018 Sarah Tait Spirit Award, presented by Gatorade – Fiona Albert

2018 Para Award – Alistair Donohoe

2018 William Angliss Personal Excellence Award – Melissa Tapper


Aerial Skiing – Gabi Ash

Athletics – Claire Keefer

Cycling – Alistair Donohoe

Diving – Emily Chinnock

Golf – David Micheluzzi

Men’s Hockey – Nathan Ephraums

Women’s Hockey – Aisling Utri

Netball – Allie Smith

Rowing – Ria Thompson

Sailing – Tayla Rietman & Lachlan White

Shooting – Laetisha Scanlan

Swimming – Jessica Hansen

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