The Halberg Awards got it wrong. Again. Both in overall athlete(s) of the decade and most memorable moment. No disrespect at all to both rowing crews who were named on the night as champs but, for everything they achieved, the decade honours should've gone elsewhere.
I even liked Eric Murray's post-ceremony quip when asked why him and Hamish Bond had won and he said "because we never lost".
True that. But I will still argue 'til the bitter end that the All Blacks are the real NZ athlete(s) of the decade 2010 - 2019. Wednesday's awards were just another example of how we take our #1 national team for granted.
We don't expect the All Blacks to win every single game they play, we demand it. Winning the World Cup in 2011 was a watershed moment for this country. And I don't just mean in a sporting sense. You could feel the sense of relief and pride nationwide. To double down in 2015, to become the first ever team to go back-to-back was extraordinary. And then to exert such dominance for virtually the entire decade is/was something that will (most probably) never be repeated.
AND what the ABs did I'll also argue meant more to the country than any of the many gold medals. Which is also the crucial, intangible bit of the criteria nigh impossible to quantify - except when it's this obvious. Same for most memorable moment. Everyone knows that should've been Grant Elliott's semi-final winning six in 2015. Again, not at all undermining what Cohen & Sullivan did but ask the next 100 people you meet what they remember more. I guarantee over half will struggle to recall the rowers while 100% will tell you where they were and who they were with when Elliott struck.
The Halberg Awards judging panel got it wrong. But that's also like saying Bond & Murray never lost. We all knew that anyway.