Aussie superstars short-listed for The Don

Daniel RicciardoSPORTS AWARDS

Tennis young gun Nick Kyrgios, track queen Sally Pearson and formula one ace Daniel Ricciardo are among those in contention for the annual title of Australia’s most inspiring athlete.

Named after famed batsman Don Bradman, “The Don” Award is presented by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to a sportsperson who has most inspired the nation during the past year.

NBA champion Patty Mills, Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning marathon runner Michael Shelley, cricketer Mitchell Johnson and aerial skier Lydia Lassila are also vying for 2014’s accolade.

Pearson, who picked up her first Don following her successful London Games campaign in 2012, said the award marked a “pinnacle in an athlete’s career”.

“Don Bradman symbolised everything that was wonderful in sport,” she said.

Lassila is also a second-time nominee for her bronze medal efforts in Sochi, having won the Don Award in 2010 after her Vancouver Winter Olympics victory.

Kyrgios’ giant-killing Wimbledon run – where he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history by beating world No 1 Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter-finals – scored him a nod, while Ricciardo’s grand prix wins in Canada, Hungary and Belgium got him a spot on the short-list.

Mills was recognised for becoming the first player of Australian indigenous heritage to win an NBA championship ring, playing a key role in the San Antonio Spurs’ victory.

Johnson’s Ashes efforts secured his nomination.

“At the core of this award is the values set [by] Donald Bradman, which include dignity, integrity, courage and modesty in compatibility with pride, ambition and competitiveness,” Hall of Fame chairman John Bertrand said.

“All seven have demonstrated those values.”

The winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne on October 9. – AAP

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