Cadel Evans was named Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Sports Performer of the Year last night at an award ceremony at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The readers of the Sydney and Melbourne newspapers selected Evans, who came second in this year’s Tour de France and finished the year on top of the ProTour rankings, from six other nominations in an online poll.
Evans immediately promised to donate his AUD50,000 winnings to two charities, the Amy Gillett Foundation and Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth.
Founded to commemorate rower and cyclist Amy Gillett, who was killed when an out-of-control car hit her and her Australian national team-mates in Germany on 18 July, 2005, the Amy Gillett Foundation campaigns for improved road safety for cyclists.
Evans said that donating to charity was “my way of saying thank you for the support everyone has given me here. I think the Amy Gillett Foundation would be a much worthier [recipient of the money] than me.”
Evans said that the emotion of Gillett’s death had inspired his fourth place finish in the July 19 stage of that year’s Tour de France and eventual eighth place overall. “That day was probably a key turning point in my career, for me as an athlete and as a bit of a role model for people,” Evans said.
Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth was set up by the former swimmer to treat illness in people under 20. Evans said that Thorpe had visited Barunga in the Northern Territory, the remote Aboriginal community where Evans lived till he was three years old.
“He has been there with his Books for Kids program and helping them with literacy up in the Northern Territory in particular,” Evans said. “I don’t want to take anything from [Aboriginal] culture. But if they want any help from our culture they are going to have to be able to read. It’s a key issue in helping them survive in this society as it is today.”