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The Best Australian Sportspeople of 2016 Who Weren't Dickheads

We love these guys.

21/12/2016 6:10 PM AEDT | Updated 31/12/2016 6:50 AM AEDT
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Both of these men gave away the same medal for different reasons. We have as much love for them as they have for each other.

We did this last year and we're doing it again in 2016. Here they are. The 16 Aussies* who were bloody good at sport, but more importantly, who made us feel good about the world in 2016.

KIM BRENNAN
Rower. Woman of perspective. Chuffed person.

Carlos Barria / Reuters
She called herself selfish for pursuing Olympic glory and said it's all about family now. We love the sentiment but still think she was a little hard on herself.

Kim Brennan is the only person to appear on this list two years in a row. That's because she went from a world champion who'd been unbeaten for two years, to an Olympic champion. But it's also because we totally fell in love with her all over again after the honest, thoughtful comments she personally shared with us in Rio immediately after winning gold in the single sculls. One thing Kim told us was that she was "chuffed". Not "stoked", but chuffed. There are not enough chuffed people in the world.

LUKE BEVERIDGE
Western Bulldogs coach. Medal giver-awayer. Legend.

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That's Beveridge on the left getting the big smooch from Murphy. So much love in this story.

Installed as Bulldogs coach at the end of 2014, he steered his unfancied team to 6th in 2015. This year you thought, yeah, sixth would be a decent result again. When captain Bob Murphy was injured early in the season, you thought forget it. But as we all know, the Bulldogs won the flag from seventh place on the ladder. And Beveridge called the injured skipper up to the premiership dais and gave him his winner's medal. Murphy later returned it, saying it wasn't his to keep. It now lives in the Bulldogs Trophy Cabinet. Who said sportsmanship is dead?

TYLER WRIGHT
Surfing champ. Hat wearer. Believer.

AFP/Getty Images
Wright didn't surf in the hat at this event in Hossegor, France, in October. But she did secure the world title there. We're sure the hat helped somehow.

The 22-year-old from Culburra Beach, two hours south of Sydney, became Australia's seventh female world surfing champ this year. She'd always been good. Wright won the Layne Beachley Classic when she was just 14, which prompted Beachley to tell us "She doesn't respect her elders". Lol. If Wright is genuinely guilty of not respecting anything, it was her own ability. "I think there were expectations from people telling me that I need to win a world title, not really from me," she said of her earlier career after winning the world title. "I finally realised the difference between someone that doesn't care and someone that cares. And I care." We do too.

KYLE CHALMERS
Olympic champion. Froot Loops eater. Man with size 17 feet.

Australia had not won the men's 100m freestyle since 1968. Cam McEvoy would change that, or so we thought. But on August 10, 18-year-old Adelaidian Kyle Chalmers awoke around 11am and devoured a huge bowl of Froot Loops. With such a nutritious start to the day, who's surprised that he came from second last on the turn to mow the field down? The best part came later when he admitted "I haven't really followed swimming a whole lot. I didn't know many of the other guys." Here's to you Kyle, for breaking all the rules.

CHLOE ESPOSITO
Modern pentathlete. Hungarian speaker. Hilarious human.

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
At her job at a shooting range in Sydney, people come up and go "hey, I know you". Few can place her, though.

When Esposito, 25, won Rio Olympic gold in the modern pentathlon, Australia asked itself two questions. The first was "what even is that?" The second was "who is she?". Esposito, as Huffington Post Australia readers would know from our recent extended chat, is a Sydney athlete who spent most of her pre-Rio training in Hungary. Yes, she speaks Hungarian (which is known as the world's toughest language). She also works part-time at a Sydney shooting range where people vaguely know her face, but can rarely work out who she is. So now you know.

PATTY MILLS
Basketball star. Semi-retired towel waver. Good guy.

Patty Mills was already having a great 2016 before he drained a three-pointer that broke his opponents' 10-game winning streak right when we were writing up this list. When Mills -- a 28-year-old Canberran of Torres Strait Islander descent -- won the NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, he was a bit player more famous for his sideline towel waving. He's now earning serious court time, and was easily Australia's best player in the Boomers' Rio Olympic campaign that promised so much before it nosedived. Off a cliff. Into a cactus. If we'd had five Patty Millses on court, you can't help thinking we would've won gold.

MOANA HOPE
AFL force of awesomeness. Trailblazer. Carer.

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This was Hope playing for St Kilda in September. She'll line up for Collingwood in the new AFLW. But it's OK, you can still like her.

As anyone who saw the Australian Story feature on her in August would know, Moana Hope is the face, voice -- and in every sense of the word -- the hope of women who play footy as we head into the inaugural AFLW season in 2017. The first woman to kick 100 goals in the VFL, Hope, 28, is made for professional footy. She's even got the tats. All seemed lost a couple of years ago when she lost the hunger and started going out and drinking. But the motivation is back, and how. "Coming back to football was the best decision I've made in my whole life," she said earlier this year. Away from footy, Hope is a businesswoman and the full-time carer for her sister Lavinia, who has a disability.

JOSH HAZLEWOOD
Test bowler. Artful deceiver. Middle name Reginald.

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Hazlewood prepares to hug 10 men who are very happy he's in the team.

Hazlewood is not a scary bowler. He doesn't bowl the swingiest swing or the paciest pace. But boy, does he hit the spot again and again and again. He's a lesson to all of us, no matter what we do, to use what you've got, and use it wisely. With 37 wickets this year (leading up to the Boxing Day Test), the 25-year-old from Tamworth was one of the only insta-picks in an oft-changing 2016 Aussie Test line-up. Hazlewood is no limelight seeker, but there are enough of them in modern life. He just does what he does and boy, does he do it well.

DYLAN ALCOTT
Australian Paralympian of the year. Can-do man. Dapper dude.

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Dylan Alcott and girlfriend Kate Lawrance make one heck of a good-looking couple.

Dylan Alcott won wheelchair tennis gold at the Rio Paralympics in both the quad singles and quad doubles. Not bad for a bloke who also won gold back at Beijing in wheelchair basketball. Alcott, 26, was named Australian Paralympian of the Year. But you know what we really love about him? The fact that he said this: "Ever since I started playing elite sport, I have always viewed myself as a sportsman first and foremost, who just happens to have a disability, and uses a wheelchair in order to compete."

CHARLOTTE CASLICK
Rugby sevens superstar. Girl power advocate. Schnitzel lover.

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She left the world in her wake.

Charlotte Caslick is awesome. Watching her play rugby sevens in Rio, you went wow, this woman is a cut above everybody else on the field. Rugby officialdom saw it that way too, naming her player of the year. "To be honest I just think we're an awesome team," Caslick said after winning Rio gold. "We never doubt each other. We've got 100 per cent faith that the girl next to us is going to do their best." We loved her for that, and loved her even more when she said "hopefully we've inspired girls around the world to take up their dreams and know they can do anything a boy can do".

MACK HORTON
Olympic champion. Taunter of Chinese drug cheats. Lover of life.

I've had tougher days

A photo posted by uoʇɹoɥ ʞɔɐɯ (@mackhorton) on

Big Mack won 400m freestyle gold in Rio, beating his Chinese rival Sun Yang in a thrilling finish after having had a good dig at Yang earlier that week over Yang's previous three month doping ban. It was the ultimate win for the good guys, and the way he shut down Chinese journalists in press conferences afterwards was just as brutal. After the Olympics, Mack went to Europe and had such a good time (if his Instagram pics were any guide), we ended up hating him more than the Chinese did. Nah, not really. Well maybe a bit.

SAM WILLOUGHBY
BMX superstar. Optimist. Soon-to-be-husband.

A London 2012 silver medallist, Willoughby was the fastest qualifier in the Rio Olympic BMX final. But the 25-year-old had some bad luck and finished 6th. A month later, he broke his back after landing on his head in an awful training fall at his home-base in San Diego, California. He's since been in rehab, but it's not yet known what level of movement he'll have in his legs. Willoughby gets married next year. His vow ahead of his marriage vows? To walk down the aisle when he weds U.S. BMX rider Alise Post (who won silver in Rio). We wish him all the best, and you can donate to his recovery cause here.

MOLLY TAYLOR
Rally driving champ. Fitness freak. Life liver.

Colour coordinating with my baby for @dailytelegraph 💙 #mysubie #blueblood

A photo posted by Molly Taylor (@molly_rally) on

Taylor, 28, this year became the first female driver to win the Rally Australia Championship, in its 50th year of competition. In fact, she's the first woman to win any major Australian motorsport championship. Taylor was born into a motor sport family. Her mother Coral won four titles as a rally co-driver, but Molly has made her mark as the fastest woman on dirt with a steering wheel in hand. Know what we really love about her? She's got this really holistic outlook on life. Her Instagram feed is a unique cross of revhead, girl next door and fitness freak.

TOM ROGIC
Footballer. Clinical finisher. The toast of Glasgow.

Australia, we might just have found the new Tim Cahill. OK, so no one will ever replace Timmy, but the Socceroos all-time leading scorer is now 37. We need a new pin-up and Rogic, 24, could be that guy. The product of the town of Griffith, in the NSW Riverina, has been in amazing from for Scottish Premiership runaway leaders Celtic. "Technically he's so gifted," his manager said recently. Take a look at the clip above to see the last minute winner he scored recently. Yep, the fans sure love him. So do his teammates. And so do we.

RHIANNAN IFFLAND
Cliff Diver. Daredevil. Fleetwood Mac fan.

Red Bull via Getty Images
You'd be happy too if you just survived a 28 m plunge from Japanese cliffs.

Iffland was a trampolinist turned diver who wasn't good enough to make the Olympic team. Then the 25-year-old from Nords Wharf, about two hours north of Sydney, scored a wildcard entry to the first round of the Red Bull cliff diving world series -- in which competitors brave drops of up to 28m and water entry speeds of 75 km/h. She won her first event. And kept winning. And eventually won the whole series. Not a bad return for a woman who once earned a living dressing up in animal onesies and performing novelty trampoline routines on cruise ships.

WINX
Super horse. Fan favourite. The new Black Caviar.

Winx is the mare who gave other horses nightmares in 2016. Most racing people consider the Cox Plate -- not the Melbourne Cup -- Australia's greatest race. It's certainly our greatest middle distance race, and Winx capped an unbeaten season with her second straight Cox Plate triumph. Her eight length winning margin was the biggest ever in the race. Trainer Chris Waller was all part of the happy picture, posting really lovely, polite notes on social media keeping the public updated on the horse's progress.

*The list is in no particular order.

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