Athletes were itching to get back on the field, in the ring and on the court as their favourite games returned in 2021 following a year of sporting uncertainty, cancellations and postponements. Here’s a look back at the sporting highlights for the second half of the year. JULY In a meteoric ride, Margaret River product Aran Zalewski established himself as a walk-up start on the hockey field at the Tokyo Olympics, leading the Australian team to silver medal success. Local surfer Felicity Palmateer turned to the silver screen, signing up for reality TV series Australian Survivor: Brains v Brawn, quickly capturing the hearts of Australians. Hawthorn stalwart Ben Stratton made his long-awaited return to his boyhood club, Augusta Margaret River Hawks, being cleared to play with the SWFL team. The sensational Hardy sisters, Willow and Olive, snatched up top honours at the WA Junior Surf Titles among a star-studded field which included Augusta firebrand Ruby Berry and Kaleisha Launders. More than 500 mountain bikers sped into Margaret River for the return of the WA Gravity Enduro. AUGUST For the first time in the Augusta Margaret River Hawks’ 55-year history, the club claimed the SWFL minor premiership by winning their last game of the home-and-away season to enter the finals rounds. Kade Dittmar proved Margaret River proud when he attended the national draft combine to vie for a AFL position later in the year. Margaret River surfing star Jack Robinson has won his first Championship Tour event at Mexico’s Corona Open held at Barra de la Cruz. WA’s surfing community mourned the loss of surfing pioneer Frank Hayter when the 65-year-old drowned after his leg rope became tangled in a rock outcrop. SEPTEMBER Augusta Margaret River Hawks broke their 10-year premiership drought after a hard-fought 66-26 win over Busselton in the South West football League grand final. Hawks’ Simon Moore capped of a stellar SWFL season by winning the prestigious Hayward Medal and Pike Medal, beating out all other South West club players. Margaret River Senior High School surfers claimed an epic 16th straight win at the WA School Surfing Titles, boasting some of the strongest youth talent in the State, overwhelming more than 1000 competitors from 70 schools. The 25th Gracetown Grommets were a hometown success with a record 75 junior surfers coming far and wide. Augusta’s Ruby Berry took out best performance while Zali Hewson scored the “Hellwoman” award. OCTOBER The accolades for Hawks Simon Moore continued to roll in with the club’s best-and-fairest award bestowed on him. More than 1500 mountain bikers took part in the country’s longest running multi-stage biking race, the Cape to Cape. Margaret River’s Kade Dittmar joined the State’s under-19 side to face their South Australian counterparts after repeated delays because of COVID-19 restrictions. Former Margaret RIver Hawk Harrison Marsh, became a WAFL premiership player for the second time as Subiaco Lions roared into the grand finals. NOVEMBER Cowaramup Cricket Club won its first A-grade game in more than two years, chasing down the imposing Dunsborough with ease. Plans for a major surf life saving centre in the heart of Margaret River got a shot in the arm thanks to a $867,000 Lotterywest grant. Lisa McCarthy and Cyrus Cox were bestowed the honour of having their names engraved into the stairs at Surfers Point, thanks to their spectacular efforts at the Margaret River Classic. Fears were raised that mandatory vaccinations could undermine the Margaret River Pro as surf legend Kelly Slater became the first casualty of the mandates. Perth Glory captain Natasha Rigby said her side was aiming to be the “fittest in the comp” as the squad descended on the South West to continue its gruelling pre-season schedule. The South West put on a magnificent showcase of adventure racing as athletes descended on the region for the Eagle Bay Epic Adventure Race. DECEMBER Red Bull brought a soft board surf series The Form Wreckers to Margaret River. Billed as an “anti-contest” as judged chose the winner based on who was “having the most fun” while catching waves. Margaret River and Gracetown dominated the major awards in this year’s Surfing WA night of nights, naming Championship Tour surfers Jack Robinson and Bronte Macaulay as the year’s best, while George Simpson and Willow Hardy took the tyro titles. Kade Dittmar landed a coveted position with the West Coast Eagles after missing out on first picks last month.