(* male athletes are eligible instead for Bill Roycroft Award)
But before announcing this year's winner, let us first recap the former winners:
Gillian Rolton (Equestrian)
During the cross country event, Gillian Ralton fell from her horse, Peppermint Grove, and broke two of her ribs. She immediately remounted Peppermint Grove and continued. Perhaps because of the pain, for which she could, of course, take no painkillers, Gillian fell again, this time breaking her collar bone. She remounted once more, although every step was agonising and horsemanship was impossible. All she could hope to do was cling on and pray she didn't fall off again while Peppermint Grove made the final 15 jumps of the course. Nonetheless, Peppermint Grove carried home his injured rider, who never lost faith that he would. Gillian's ride won herself and her team the Gold Medal.
Lauren Burns (Taekwondo)
In the pursuit of excellence in her sport, Lauren Burns received a number of notable injuries, including a broken nose. She had pins inserted in her fingers and underwent reconstructive surgery on both legs. In the final of the 48kg Division, Lauren took a low blow from her Cuban opponent that left her staggering with pain. She refused to give in, and continued the bout. In the second half, she took a second kick in the groin. In excruciating pain, she continued her Gold Medal fight, which she went on to win 4-2, her country's first ever medal in the new sport of Taekwondo.
Salt Lake, 2002
Alisa Camplin (Aerial Skiing)
Alisa Camplin was spotted at an early age by talent scouts from the Australian Institute of Sport who thought that she could make an Olympic marathon runner, but she was forced to switch to gymnastics due to a disorder that affected the bones of her legs. She then competed in gymnastics at a state level but had to give it up due to stress fractures in her back.
Then in 1994, at age 19, she was spotted skylarking on a trampoline at Melbourne's Exhibition Buildings by Geoff Lipshut (now CEO of the Olympic Winter Institute). At age 19, Alisa had never skied, but she could spin in the air, and had no fear. She never did become an expert skier, but in 1997 Alisa joined Team Buller, home of Jaqui Cooper, with whom Alisa shared a house in Canada.
Alisa's list of major injuries includes a broken collarbone, a broken hand, a separated shoulder, dislocated collarbone and sternum, torn Achilles and no less than nine concussions, the last of which was especially severe and lasted most of 2000. In that year a Canadian doctor who specialised in sports injuries to hockey players advised her to hang up her boots. She did no such thing.
With a faultless performance of a difficult aerial routine, Alisa Camplin won the Gold Medal, her country's first ever for skiing. (Teammate Jaqui Cooper was unable to watch as she was on the operating table at the time.)
Alisa Camplin (Aerial Skiing)
Following her winning the Gillian Rolton Award in 2002, Alisa went on to win the 2003 World Championships and 2003 and 2004 World Cup titles. However, in October 2004, she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a training water jump working on a new trick, a quadruple-twisting double somersault. Reconstructive surgery followed, forcing her to sit out the 2004 season but she was back jumping again just four months later.
Then, in October 2005, under identical circumstances, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament a second time. It looked like her career (not to mention 2006 Olympic bid) was over. However, radical reconstructive surgery, involving the transplant of ligaments from a dead man, had Alisa back training on the water ramps after just 58 days and back on the road to Turino. Team doctor Peter Braun expressed great nervousness about her chances but Alisa took to spending 12 hours a day in the gym and made it to Turino.
(A teammate, Lydia Ierodiaconou, had similar radical reconstructive surgery last June. Alisa watched as Lydia blew her knee during the Qualifying Round in Turino.)
With two superb jumps, Alisa nailed the Bronze Medal, becoming only the second Australian to win a gold and bronze at the Winter Olympics.