They are the jewels in the Illawarra sporting crown.

The honour roll at the Illawarra Academy of Sport graduates reflects the calibre of athlete produced in our own backyard.

The Illawarra Mercury sportsperson of the year winners in the past decade are athletes of elite and extraordinary talent. We want to showcase the best our athletes and leading sportspeople in the best possible way, from the football field, to the athletics track, swimming pool, octagon and race tracks.

The awards will be judged by an expert panel, using a specific set of criteria before the awards night, to be held at the Fraternity Club on November 10.

This award is reserved for the champions in their field, who have excelled within the region, nationally and internationally.

National 1500m record holders Jessica Hull and Ryan Gregson, world champion Paralympian Brett Stibners, Paralympic gold medallist Siobhan Paton, Olympic gold medallist Dave Smith, elite cyclists Rochelle Gilmore, Ben and Josh Kersten and Caleb Ewan, as well as Olympic and Commonwealth Games hockey talents Kieran and Blake Govers, Tristan White, Flynn Ogilvie and Grace Stewart.

NRL premiership-winning captain Ben Hornby, Australian and NSW rugby league representatives Brett and Josh Morris, Shaun Timmins, John Simon, Luke Bailey, Craig Fitzgibbon, Damien Cook and Tyson Frizell have all come through the IAS program, so too Jillaroos stars Keeley Davis and Rikeya Horne.

Karen Murphy and Leif Stewart have represented Australia in lawn bowls, Kieran Woolley an Olympic skateboarder, Sally Fitzgibbons and Mick Lowe are surfing legends and two-time World Cup Socceroo Luke Wilkshire have all had guiding support from the Academy. In the pool Emma McKeon has risen to the top of Olympics and Commonwealth Games medal tallies, while brother David is a Commonwealth Games champion and Jarrod Poort a long-distance swimming finals athlete.

Past Illawarra Mercury Sportsperson of the Year winners

2021: Emma McKeon (swimming)

2020: Jessica Hull (athletics)

2019: Alex Volkanovski (mixed martial arts)

2018: Ali Day (surf lifesaving)

2017: Kezie Apps (rugby league)

2016: Emma McKeon (swimming) and Tyler Wright (surfing)

2015: Michelle Heyman and Caitlin Foord (football)

2014: Emma McKeon (swimming)

2013: Sally Fitzgibbons (surfing)