A photo finish for young achievers

THREE of the past four winners will be on hand to see who is anointed Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year tonight.

A record 330 people will be at the Commercial Club for an award that judges say was one of the toughest to line-up.

Sport Albury-Wodonga president Rob McDonald said any one of the 12 finalists could have been given the title.

“It is very, very tough and the panel really couldn’t separate several of the standouts,” he said.

“I don’t know that there has been a group of nominees that have been as strong across a range of sports.”

The 12 finalists represent 10 sports with golf’s Zach Murray and Casey Wild, along with hockey’s Jocelyn Bartram and Ben Hooppell the only multiple nominees for a sport.

The other finalists include Nick Dempsey (water polo), Josh Briant (water-skiing), Matthew Ward (swimming), Mahalah Mullins (snowboard slopestyle), William McIntosh (cricket), James Willett (clay target shooting), Nathan Rodgers (triathlon) and Jordan Boys (kart racing).

McDonald said the award was determined on results in the calendar year.

In the past month Briant has won the Moomba Masters — his first professional title, Willett became World Junior Trap Champion and Murray achieved the unique honour of being named in the junior and men’s state amateur teams.

“None of that can count for the young achiever,” McDonald said. “But in those three cases, along with the others, their performances in 2013 were equally impressive.”

Among the 300-plus crowd tonight will be last year’s winner and London Paralympian Jodi Elkington, 2012 winner Dylan Harmer and 2010 Young Achiever Britteny Cox who is just back from the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Former Albury softballer Peta Edebone, an Olympic silver and bronze medallist, will be a special guest.