Reporter and video journalist Zac Bailey has won a major sports award and created a little history by doing so.
The television presenter, who joined NRL.com in 2017, has tied with ABC-Fox Sports commentator Kelli Underwood in winning 'Best Sporting Coverage by an Individual – Video' for 2020 as part of the annual Sport Australia awards.
While other prestigious awards like the NRL's Dally M and AFL's Brownlow Medals have enjoyed joint winners in the past, this is the first time in the two-decade history of the Sport Australia awards that two finalists have won the same gong.
Bailey and Underwood were among four finalists named for their category last December for work completed between October 18, 2019, and October 30, 2020. The high quality of their submissions meant the four judges could not split them.
The Sport Australia media awards have been running since 2002 and recognise excellence in Australian sports journalism, broadcasting, production and photography.
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There were more than 330 entries submitted over the 12 categories. Given the unique challenges of 2020 with COVID-19, Sport Australia also introduced a new award 'Innovation in Sports Media' to acknowledge the important role media plays in bringing more players and audiences to sport.
Judges were looking for impact, news value, research, originality, writing and technical excellence, as well as public benefit, in deciding the 2020 winners.
Bailey's work revealed issues and stories which had not been told before, including the sexual abuse suffered by former NRL referee Gavin Badger as a youth and the racial taunts former Test player Steve Renouf was subjected to at the Brisbane Broncos.
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From the fallout of Bailey's interview with Renouf, the Broncos issued an apology to him last year – more than 20 years after he retired in 1999.
Underwood hosts the incisive sports program 'Offsiders' each Sunday morning on ABC-TV and is a regular television/radio commentator specialising in Australian Rules, netball and tennis.
Bailey's Sport Australia award is the third achieved by NRL.com. Former chief reporter Michael Chammas won 'Best Individual Sport Coverage – Digital' in 2018, while weekly columnist Mary Konstantopoulos won the same category in 2019 for her work on various sport websites, podcasts and radio programs.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Sport Australia media awards were held online this week with organisers cancelling the traditional gala dinner.
Sport Australia is part of the Australian Sports Commission, which is the federal government agency responsible for funding and investing in sport.