The most hard-fought award of the year after a stellar year for Australian sport. Layne Beachley somehow won an astonishing seventh world title in women’s surfing, while the Opals women’s basketball team took out the world title – an unprecedented achievement. Craig Mottram had an unhappy Commonwealth Games but starred away from Melbourne2006. Marathon runner Kerryn McCann was great while Philippe Rizzo won gymnastic gold, the Australian cricket team swept all before it, and Geoff Ogilvy led a brace of Australian golfers enjoying success on the US Tour. In the AFL, West Coast and Sydney slugged it out, over and over again, in a developing rivalry. But we have to salute the Socceroos, for unprecedented achievements on the world football stage and uniting Australian sports fans to the detriment of sleep patterns everywhere. Guus, Lucas, Harry, Mark and the rest even got dudded out of Germany2006 so that we can all wonder how much further they could have gone.

Honourable mention: The Australian women’s basketball team.

Crikey readers say:

“If you are serious about this award, one Australian stands out amongst all others. Craig Mottram. Mottram doesn’t rationalise bad performances, or compare himself with only white athletes. Regardless of the relative merits, Australia could not be regarded as one of the top 20 soccer nations in the world, whilst Mottram has taken on and beaten the world number 1 (and the rest of the field) at the biggest meet of the year.” — Stephen Parker

“Darren Lockyer — I hate the Broncos and Queensland, but what a legend.” — Glen Klatovsky

“If ever a sports person could lay claim to having had a perfect season then rugby league’s Darren Lockyer can make that claim…He captained Queensland to an improbable State of Origin series win, captained the Broncos to the 2006 premiership, and then captained the Kangaroos to regain the Tri-Nations rugby league title. He was also awarded international rugby league’s premier individual award, the Golden Boot.” — Crikey’s Jeff Wall.

The judges for the Sport section of the Crikey Honour Roll 2006 were Michael Roberts, Michael Tormey, Nick Place, Andrew Maitland and Jeff Wall.