NEWCASTLE’S Commonwealth Games hero Lauren Parker has been included in a star-studded field of athletes nominated for the 2018 The Don award, among the likes of Matildas star Sam Kerr, multi-code commander Ellyse Perry and fellow para-athlete Madison de Rozario.

The Don award – which will be announced on Thursday, October 11 – recognises athletes for not only their ability within their sporting field, but also for their ability to inspire the nation with their stories and accomplishments.

While there are many inspiring stories in the mix for The Don award, Parker’s recovery from a training bike crash incident all the way to her Commonwealth bronze was watched closely by everyone in the Hunter, and will surely be in the mix for a top spot out of the finalists.

Parker said she was “blown away” to be included among The Don Award finalists, especially in its historic 20th year.

“Many of the award recipients have inspired me to keep pushing myself in sport way beyond what I believed were my physical and mental limits,” the Novocastrian para-athlete said. “As an athlete I set out each day to test my abilities, both at training and in competition.”

“I am humbled that my personal goals and commitment to my sport have been recognised as something worthwhile by others. I am absolutely blown away to be nominated for the award, especially in its 20th year.”

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Newcastle’s Kurt Fearnley has also been nominated for the award, alongside Mark Knowles, Will Power and Daniel Ricciardo.

Former winners of ‘The Don’ Award include Sally Pearson, Cadel Evans, Pat Rafter and Cathy Freeman. The Award is named in honour of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s first Inductee, the late Sir Donald Bradman AC.