BMX Freestyle Rider Logan Martin has won the sixty-fifth Sir Hubert' Oppy' Opperman Medal after being named the 2021 Santini AusCycling Cyclist of the Year.
Martin's maiden 'Oppy' Medal came following a stunning 2021, which saw the 28-year-old rider from the Gold Coast win the inaugural BMX Freestyle Olympic gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and secure a second world title since 2017.
"Honestly, it is super amazing to win this award. There are a lot of amazing athletes that have won this award. And to now be a winner of this award is super something super special," Martin said via a video acceptance speech during the virtual 2021 AusCycling Awards ceremony presented by Comwire IT.
"I have always just ridden my bike and put in the work, just like any other athlete does and to now be sitting alongside some amazing names, it is pretty hard to believe to be honest."
BMX Freestyle was one of five sports that made its Olympic debut at the Toyko Games in 2021, with pre-Games favourite Martin stunning the world with a spectacular effort in his first sixty-second run, which was awarded a score of 93.30, the best of the nine finalists. With all eight finalists failing to better Martin's mark in their second run, Martin had secured the gold before dropping in for his second 'victory lap' run.
"It wasn't until I was about to drop in for my second run that sort of hit me that I had won the gold medal. The last guy to go just before my second run, when his score came in, I had won the gold medal, but it still hadn't quite hit me. And then I dropped my second run, not needing to, but just trying to try to better my score,” he said.
Martin's thrilling win, and the visual and physical spectacle of the exhilarating sport, left an indelible memory in the minds of international and Australian sporting fans.
"Yeah, it's honestly massive for BMX Freestyle. For me to win this award, being the first-ever BMX Freestyle athlete to win it, it puts it more on the map," Martin added. "We've just become an Olympic sport, and the past few years, we started working with the Australian Cycling Team, so to put BMX Freestyle on this trophy too is amazing."
While Martin was making history in BMX Freestyle his fellow Australian cyclists from other disciplines celebrated across the world throughout 2021.
Australia's para-cyclists enjoyed a tremendous season, highlighted by tremendous performances at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. On her Paralympic debut, Emily Petricola added another chapter to her cycling success story, winning silver in the women's C4 Individual Road Time Trial. Petricola achieved another career-first at the 2021 Federation University Road National Championships in Ballarat, winning her first national time trial title in the women's C4 category.
"I cannot believe that I have won this in a Paralympic year. That means so much to me, " Petricola said. "I could not have done any of this without the staff, a thank you to all the AusCycling Para staff, specifically those who have worked with me over the last 12 months, led by Nick Formosa, David Betts, Keren Faulkner, Jill Leckey."
On the road, Ben O'Connor captured the cycling world's attention on his debut at the Tour de France with a dominant solo stage victory at Tignes in the French Alps. By the end of the gruelling three-week Grand Tour, O'Connor had secured a top-four finish on general classification to become just the fourth Australian to finish in the top five in the Tour, joining Cadel Evans, Richie Porte, and Phil Anderson.
"It is unexpected, and I think the year itself was also unexpected with how it played out and how I was able to finally achieve what I have always dreamt of and hoped for, and for those people have always put effort into me,” O'Connor said. "From my grassroots back in Australia from Wayne Evans with Satalyst Racing, to Andrew Christie-Johnson at Avanti, through to Dimension Data, and now to AG2R Citroën where finally feel I have found a strong home and a place I love to race and race my bike."
Over on the dirt in 2021, Rebecca McConnell continued where she left off in 2020, starting with her eighth straight elite women's National Championship title. The Canberran found the podium five times during the 2021 Mercedes-Benz Mountain Bike World Cup season and claimed a bronze in Nove Mesto before picking up silver at Lenzerheide and Snowshoe. Then, in July, she contested a third-straight Olympic Games, the first Australian woman to achieve the feat.
"It was another crazy year, but I'm super happy with how it went and just want to say a huge thank you to everybody who has been along for the ride and all the support," McConnell said.
The AusCycling Cyclists of the Year Awards for 2021 was presented by Comwire IT.
Re-watch the awards here
AusCycling Cyclists of the Year for 2021
2021 Santini AusCycling Cyclist of the Year - presented the Sir Hubbert Opperman Medal ("Oppy")
2021 Queensland Academy of Sport Women's BMX Freestyle Rider of the Year
2021 Queensland Academy of Sport Men's BMX Freestyle Rider of the Year
2021 HutSix Women's BMX Racing Rider of the Year
2021 HutSix Men's BMX Racing Rider of the Year
2021 Zwift Women's ESports Cyclist of the Year
2021 Zwift Men's ESports Cyclist of the Year
2021 Dirtsurfer Women's Mountain Biker of the Year
2021 Dirtsurfer Men's Mountain Biker of the Year
2021 KASK Women's Road Para-Cyclist of the Year
2021 KASK Men's Road Para-Cyclist of the Year
2021 Argon 18 Women's Track Para-Cyclist of the Year
2021 Argon 18 Men's Track Para-Cyclist of the Year
2021 Federation University Women's Road Cyclist of the Year
2021 Federation University Men's Road Cyclist of the Year
2021 Vittoria Tires Women's Track Cyclist of the Year
2021 Vittoria Tires Men's Track Cyclist of the Year
Team Pursuit – Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Kelland O'Brien, Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford, Lucas Plapp, Alexander Porter