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Women’s world number one golfer Lydia Ko has been awarded the Lonsdale Cup for 2015. The first time in the 54-year history of the award, that the cup has gone to a New Zealand golfer.

Ko met with Rob Waddell, Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic Team, this morning ahead of the ISPS Handa NZ Women's Open in Christchurch. The pair spoke about progress in Rio and Waddell gave Ko a sneak preview of the Cup in advance of the formal award presentation at the ISPS Power of Sport Dinner on Friday evening.

"This scholarship will help me learn more and train harder so I can turn pro and hopefully live the dream like Lydia is.”

The Lonsdale Cup is presented annually to the athlete or team who made the most outstanding contribution to Olympic or Commonwealth sport and, following golf and rugby sevens addition to the Olympic programme in 2009 athletes from these codes have been eligible for consideration.

The award tops off a phenomenal year for the 18-year-old golfer as Ko played her way into the history books of world golf. In 2015, Ko became the sport's youngest number one, took five LPGA titles including her first major, collected her second New Zealand Open title, claimed the tour's points race and was named the LPGA's player of the year.

However, Ko’s excellent results internationally weren’t the only consideration with the athlete clearly having upheld the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect on and off the field of play throughout the year.

In June 2015, Ko launched the annual Lydia Ko Scholarship, giving two young New Zealand female golfers the opportunity to travel to her training base in Florida for a week of personal coaching and mentoring from both Ko and her group of providers.

Priscilla Eujin Kang and Anna Jiheh An became the inaugural recipients of this scholarship and both were hugely grateful for the opportunity.

"I really admire Lydia and her focus and hard work and I want to be just like her one day,” said An.

"This scholarship will help me learn more and train harder so I can turn pro and hopefully live the dream like Lydia is.”

As well as inspiring the future stars of New Zealand Golf, Ko is also an active ambassador for two key New Zealand Golf initiatives aimed at getting more people playing golf – the ‘LOVE Golf’ and ‘She Loves Golf’ programmes.

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was thrilled for Ko and noted the young player’s impressive achievements and contribution to golf.

“Lydia’s international golfing achievements are inspirational for all New Zealanders and her conscious effort to support the future of the game in New Zealand is hugely admirable.”

“Lydia’s record in 2015 has wowed the golfing world and the humble approach and response she takes to her success certainly cements her status as an inspiration and role model both here and abroad.

We are excited for what 2016 could bring for Lydia and the New Zealand Olympic Committee is thrilled to see Golf reinstated on to the Olympic Programme in Rio.” Speaking from Christchurch, Ko said she was thrilled to receive the Lonsdale Cup for 2015.

"Last year was a great year for me on the course and I have aspirations to keep this momentum up in 2016," she said. “Winning the Lonsdale Cup for 2015 is a real honour and, with golf being included at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there are added incentives for me to work towards producing more good golf this year.”

“I hope to continue playing well in the next few months and work hard towards Olympic selection into the New Zealand team." The Lonsdale Cup was first presented in 1961 to Sir Murray Halberg. Since then it has been awarded to outstanding New Zealand athletes including Sir John Walker, Sir Peter Snell, Barbara Kendall, Rob Waddell and Valerie Adams. The Cup is sterling silver and of historic value, having its origins in a 1911 sporting festival between the United Kingdom, Canada and Australasia held to honour the accession of George V. The Lonsdale Cup winner is selected by New Zealand Olympic President’s Council (business and sporting leaders) and the New Zealand Olympic Committee Board.

The ISPS Handa NZ Women's Open runs from 12 – 14 February at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.

Lonsdale Cup Winners 1961 - 2015

1961 Murray Halberg (athletics)

1962 Peter G Snell (athletics)

1963 William D Baillie (athletics)

1964 Peter G Snell (athletics)

1965 Don Oliver (weightlifting)

1966 Valerie Young (athletics)

1967 David McKenzie (athletics)

1968 Ian Ballinger (shooting)

1969 Jeff Julian (athletics)

1970 W D (Harry) Kent (cycling)

1971 Les Mills (athletics)

1972 Rod Dixon (athletics)

1973 Jack Foster (athletics)

1974 Richard Tayler (athletics)

1975 John Walker (athletics)

1976 T L J (Dick) Quax (athletics)

1978 Rebecca Perrott (swimming)

1979 Ian Ferguson (canoeing)

1980 Anthony Cuff (cycling)

1981 David Barnes & Hamish Wilcox (yachting)

1982 Neroli Fairhall (archery)

1983 David Barnes & Hamish Wilcox (yachting)

1984 Ian Ferguson (canoeing)

1985 Ian Ferguson & Paul McDonald (canoeing)

1986 Anthony Mosse (swimming)

1987 Paul McDonald (canoeing)

1988 Bruce Kendall (yachting)

1989 Anthony Mosse (swimming)

1990 Gary Anderson (cycling)

1991 Anna Simcic (swimming)

1992 Danyon Loader (swimming)

1993 Brenda Lawson (rowing)

1994 Stephen Petterson (shooting)

1995 Chris White (rowing)

1996 Danyon Loader (swimming)

1997 Beatrice Faumuina (athletics)

1998 Rob Waddell (rowing)

1999 Barbara Kendall (yachting)

2000 Rob Waddell (rowing)

2001 Blyth Tait (equestrian)

2002 Sarah Ulmer (cycling)

2003 Caroline and Georgina Evers- Swindell (rowing)

2004 Sarah Ulmer (cycling)

2005 New Zealand Rowing Team (rowing)

2006 Valerie Adams (athletics)

2007 Valerie Adams (athletics)

2008 Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (rowing)

2009 Mahe Drysdale (rowing)

2010 Silver Ferns (netball)

2011 Valerie Adams (athletics)

2012 Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing)

2013 Valerie Adams (athletics)

2014 Valerie Adams (athletics)

2015 Lydia Ko (golf)

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Commonwealth Games Lydia Ko Golf
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