People’s Choice Awards Winner Anton Cooper Beats Olympians

The 2012 BikeNZ People’s Choice Awards was claimed not by an Olympian but teenage mountain biker Anton Cooper. According to 3News, the People’s Choice Awards are chosen by the New Zealand public and the 18-year-old from North Canterbury made history earlier this year when he became the first ever UCI cross-country mountain bike World Champion in any age-group from New Zealand.

“It’s pretty cool, I guess being voted by the public reflects both sporting ability and also indicates what sort of person you are as well. It’s a pretty cool acknowledgement and a great honour,” Anton Cooper says. “I think the public is often the truest voting system, rather than a panel of four or five people, so to be recognized by the New Zealand public is really cool.”

Olympians fresh from competing in London include Jack Bauer (Tasman) and Linda Villumsen (Auckland), who won the male and female rider of the year awards in their discipline.

Simon van Velthooven (Manawatu) cashed in on his Olympic bronze medal to win the male track rider of the year, while current Individual Pursuit World Champion Alison Shanks (Dunedin) took the female’s award.

Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker (Cambridge) was rewarded with female BMX rider of the year, with fellow Olympian Marc Willers (Cambridge) claiming the male’s award.

In mountain bike, it was Olympian Karen Hanlen (Whakatane) who won the female rider of the year award, with Anton Cooper (North Canterbury) adding male rider of the year to his People’s Choice Award.

Considering that many of these competitors for the top prize just won medals in the London Olympics, this choice might be controversial. What do you think about this teenager beating out Olympians to win the People’s Choice Awards?