| Thomas Morgenstern and Mirna Jukić |
VIENNA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Thomas Morgenstern (ski jumping) and Mirna Jukic (swimming) are the Austrian Athletes of the Year for 2008 on Sunday.
More than 300 members of Sports Media Austria voted this year for the nation's top athletes including the team of the year. In the category the ski jumping squad with Morgenstern, Martin Koch, Gregor Schlierenzauer and Andreas Kofler were the winners.
Morgenstern had a tight win against Judoka Ludwig Paischer (silver medallist at the Olympics judo of 60kg).
"I have been sportsman of the year before, but only with the team. To win the individual category is a special moment for me," the 22-year-old Morgenstern said.
The Olympic gold medal winner from Torino 2006 (large hill) kicked off a sensational season in 2007-2008. He was the first ski jumper in history to win six world cup events in a season. He won the World Cup last season, and his victory was clear six events before the season's end.
Jukic, also 22 years of age, is Austria's most successful swimmer ever. Born in Croatia, she came to Austria in 1999 to Austria and received Austrian citizenship a year later.
When she was just 16, Mirna won her first gold medal at the European Championships 2002 in Berlin (200 metre breaststroke). After long battle with glandular fever she made a comeback in 2007at the short track Europeans and claimed silver.
2008 was a great year for Jukic with gold (100m), silver (200m)and bronze (50m) at the Europeans in Eindhoven, and then bronze at the Olympics (100m breaststroke).
All together she has 21 medals and holds 13 national records. In the SMA election she won clearly ahead of Violetta Peters-Oblinger, the Olympic bronze medallist in canoe, and Christiane Soeder, runner-up in cycling world championships.
Special award went to Matthias Lanzinger, a former ski racer, who had a serious crash on March 2 in the Kvitfjel Super G when he sustained an open broken leg with complications of blood loss and poor circulation.
The rescue helicopter came late and the first hospital could not help him. They then flew to Oslo but it was too late, Lanzinger lost his leg. He became a popular figure in Austria after this accident because of his constant positive attitude and sympathetic character.
"It's the first time since my accident that I have tears in my eyes," Lanzinger said.
Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/22/content_10542675.htmFormatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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