February 11, 2021
Well-performed Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse netball duo Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon have been nominated as 2020 Wellys Finalists in the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards.
Silky-smooth shooter Ekenasio has been nominated in the Sport category while dynamic young midcourter Gordon takes her place in the Youth category. Both were key figures in helping the Wellington-based Pulse win back-to-back titles in the ANZ Premiership last season.
A naturally talented all-round athlete who excels from the goal attack position, Ekenasio’s consistency in all facets of play took her game to new levels during a defining 2019 season. A fine mover and ball handler, Ekenasio is a confident long-range shooter who put the icing on a memorable year as a key cog in the Silver Ferns 2019 World Cup-winning triumph. She embellished her leadership credentials when assuming the Silver Ferns captaincy in 2020.
``This is a huge honour and a privilege to be included alongside such richly-talented sports people from a variety of codes,’’ said Ekenasio, who has made Wellington her home since moving from Australia in 2015.
Gordon’s star has continued to rise after getting her first taste of elite level netball in 2019, the super quick and skilful midcourter sealing a heady 2020 with a MVP performance in the Grand Final and selection in the Silver Ferns squad.
A product of Whangarei, Gordon, who has thrived in her adopted home since making the move to Wellington to further her netball career in 2018, was humbled by the Wellys acknowledgement.
``This has come as a total surprise,’’ she said. ``I am very grateful to be a finalist in such esteemed company in the city which has proved so rewarding for my netball career.’’
Both face stiff competition in their respective categories with Kiwis and Melbourne Storm rugby league prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, former Phoenix football standout, now plying his trade in the Belgian First Division, Liberto Cacace, Black Caps and Wellington Firebirds batsman Devon Conway, and prolific Adelaide Strikers, Wellington Blaze and White Ferns run-scorer and wicket-taker Sophie Devine joining Ekenasio in an impressive line-up of sporting talent.
It is a similar case in the Youth category with Gordon, the only sport nominee, joining a diverse selection of young achievers, including writer and activist Kahu Kutia, a prominent voice in te ao Maori, and environment and youth issues, Brad Olsen, the youngest serving JP and respected economic commentator, Tamatha Paul, Wellington City Councillor and activist, and Kii Small, deputy registrar at the Ministry of Justice and a strong advocate for removing barriers in the mental health conversation.
The 2020 Wellingtonian of the Year Awards will be held on March 17.
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