Wheelchair tennis player Joachim Gerard pulled one of the biggest upsets of 2015. With that, the Belgian has been named the Allianz Athlete of the Month for December, wrapping up the last honour of 2015.
Gerard defeated Japan’s No. 1 Shingo Kunieda 2-6 6-2 7-5 in the early rounds of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the International Tennis Federation’s year-end singles championships event. The victory spoiled Kunieda’s 77-matching winnings streak. The two then met in the men’s singles finals, where Gerard won 7-5 2-6 6-3.
The 27-year-old picked up 50 per cent of the public votes. Canadian ice sledge hockey player Tyler McGregor came in second with 25 per cent. Russian Nordic skier Stanislav Chokhlaev was third (16 per cent), followed by British swimmer Bethany Firth (seven per cent) and then French sailor Damien Seguin (two per cent).
The 2015 winners are:
January – Andrew Soule, USA, Nordic skiing
February – Chris Vos, the Netherlands, snowboard
March – Maksym Nikolenko, Ukraine, table tennis
April – Nigel Murray, Great Britain, boccia
May – Martina Caironi, Italy, athletics
June – Eduard Ramonov, Russia, football 7-a-side
July – Siamand Rahman, Iran, powerlifting
August – Trevor Hirschfield, Canada, wheelchair rugby
September – Moran Samuel, Israel, rowing
October – Beatrice Vio, Italy, wheelchair fencing
November – Zahra Nemati, Iran, archery
December – Joachim Gerard, Belgium, wheelchair tennis