Olympic sailing dual-medallist Mathew Belcher won the trifecta at the Bond University Blues Awards last night (Thursday, 9 November) after being crowned Sportsman of the Year for the third time, alongside this year's Sportswoman of the Year, Kayak champion Erin Blanch.
The annual Bond University Blues Awards celebrate and acknowledge the sporting achievements of student athletes and clubs, with all nominations reviewed by Bond University's sports panel.
Olympic freestyle legend, General Manager of the Australian Swimmers’ Association, Beyond Blue Ambassador and Bond alumnus, Daniel Kowalski OAM, was on-hand to emcee the night, while NRL Women's All Stars Captain Tahnee Norris, world champion Paratriathlete and Paralympic gold medallist Katie Kelly OAM, and member of the inaugural Brisbane Lions Women's AFL team Jamie Stanton, took part in a lively and entertaining Women in Sport panel discussion.
Belcher - who took home gold at the London Olympics and silver in Rio de Janeiro - capped off 2017 with his seventh win in eight years at the 470 World Championships in Greece, making him Australia's most successful Olympic-class skipper.
He is ranked World Number One by the International Sailing Federation, took out two wins at the Sailing World Cup France in April and won the Kieler Woche regatta - the biggest sailing event in the world - in Germany in June.
The 35-year-old, who is studying a Master of Valuation and Property Development and Master of Project Management at Bond University, has also achieved top results in his studies, with high distinctions in all eight subjects completed since he competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Belcher said it was an honour to win the Blues Awards 'Sportsman of the Year' for the third time.
“Although it’s been another very busy year for me, competing in Europe and Japan, I’ve really enjoyed being around campus a lot more and am looking forward to graduating early next year.
It’s a real privilege to receive this award. Thank you Bond University and Bond Sport for your support and for this honour.
Blanch, who Kayaks for the Currumbin Creek Paddlers Club, took out first place in both the 1,000 metre and 500 metre events at the 2017 Queensland State Sprint Championships for Junior Kayaking earlier this year.
She was awarded the Junior Canoeist of the Year and the People's Choice Award at the prestigious 2017 Australian Canoeing Awards, which was held on the Gold Coast on November 4.
Blanch was also crowned champion at the National Canoe Marathon Championships in the 19km under-18 event, held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in March.
The 18-year-old, who is studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science at Bond University, said being recognised at the Blues Awards had topped off an incredible first year of study.
"My first year of university has been a busy one juggling study and a series of national and international events, however the support of the Bond Sport team, my lecturers and tutors, has made the whole process run smoothly," Blanch said.
"I'm incredibly grateful for this award and look forward to making many more memories during my time at Bond."
Bond University’s Executive Director of Sport, Garry Nucifora said the awards were an opportunity to shine a spotlight on - and to celebrate - the achievements of the University's many high-calibre, elite and emerging athletes.
"I'm very proud of all of the sportsmen, sportswomen and teams that have put in significant effort not just on the sporting field but in the classroom throughout the last year," Mr Nucifora said.
"The students and their coaches have put in a stellar effort and I look forward to celebrating their achievements well into the future."
Blues Awards Winners 2017
Sportsman of the Year: Mathew Belcher
Sportswoman of the Year: Erin Blanch
Elite Sport Scholar: Ashleigh Keefe
Coach of the Year: David Ashkar (Women’s AFL)
Team of the Year: Women's AFL
Champion Club of the Year: Soccer
Best Sporting Moment: Bond Soccer Metro League Grand Final Win
Outstanding Service to Sport: Chloe Jessup
Alexander Graham (swimming) Samuel Wendt (swimming)
Angus Blyth (rugby) Jenna Strauch (swimming)
Dylan Riley (rugby) Daniel Coleman (triathlon)
Harry Nucifora (rugby) Laura Taylor (swimming)
Hamish Stewart (rugby) Mathew Belcher (sailing)
Gavin Luka (rugby) Matthew Kuhnemann (cricket)
Clara Dahlenburg (handball) Alex Mafi (rugby)
Erin Blanch (kayak) Daniel Self (sailing)
Solomon Wright (swimming) John Van Stekelenburg (triathlon)
Rosanna Relton (equestrian)
University Half Blue:
Melinda Sun (badminton) Abigail Pugh (surf life saving)
Courtney Gilfillan (triathlon & cycling) Amy Forrester (swimming)
Ashleigh Keefe (netball) Madison Eggert (squash)
Olivia Jeffrey (triathlon) Alexandra Evans (touch football)
Paloma Oliveira (futsal) Jordan Keras (AFL)
Hiu Fung Tang (handball) Calum Lowe-Griffiths – (surf life saving)
Charlotte St Baker, Jenna Fulton, Bradley Stayt, Grace Bradley, Leticia Chapman and Clifton Ostwald