Andrew Gourdie: Are Nico Porteous and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott contenders for Sportsman, Sportswoman of the Year at the Halberg Awards?

At this moment, they are our leading performers and highest achievers on the world stage, writes Andrew Gourdie. Credit: Photo - Getty; Video - Newshub

OPINION: Are Zoi and Nico early contenders for Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year at the Halberg Awards?

I realised this week that the best kind of sporting success is the kind that comes when you least expect it.

I may be showing my ignorance here, but 26 years of nothing to celebrate at the Winter Olympic Games hardly left my expectations soaring for our athletes in Pyeongchang. But then Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous give us the kind of unbridled and unexpected joy that sums up what's truly great about sport.

The pair both grabbed bronze medals for their efforts, with Sadowski-Synnott in the women's big air, and freeskier Porteous in the halfpipe.

A couple of 16-year-olds performing beyond their - and our - expectations, their wide-eyed, open-mouthed 'OMG' celebrations reflected on the screens of the fans watching back home as we too sat in awe of their amazing achievements. These are the sporting moments that really make you proud to be a Kiwi. A little country achieving big on the world stage.

It actually proves that winning isn't everything for us Kiwi sports fans. Those bronze medals were just gold, weren't they? There may have been two other athletes standing higher on the podium, but when you hear Nico Porteous say, "I couldn't have skied any better - that was the best skiing I've ever done in my life," he's on top of the world.

It was the same when we watched Eliza McCartney vault onto the podium in Rio - the same reaction, the same result. Her bronze medal may not have been the result in Rio, but it was the unexpected nature of her performance and achievement was what made hers the standout Kiwi moment of the 2016 Olympic Games.

And in the same way we continue to celebrate Steven Adams' every point and every rebound in the NBA, Chris Wood's goals in the English Premier League and Brendon Hartley's continued progress in Formula 1, it's the unexpected tales of sporting success on the world stage which really  bring a smile to your face.

And with that in mind, here's a challenge for the Halberg Voting Academy next year: please don't pigeonhole these 16-year-olds as emerging talents when it comes to considering the nominees, finalists and winners for next year's awards. The Emerging Talent Award is "designed to identify and assist a young athlete in their quest to become an Olympic, Paralympic and/or World Champion, and hopefully one day win the Halberg Award".

Zoi Sadowski-Synnot and Nico Porteous proved this week that they have well and truly emerged. At this moment, they are our leading performers and highest achievers on the world stage in 2018. There may be a Commonwealth Games to come in April featuring more celebrated sports, but the standard of competition and the standard of the event on the Gold Coast is nothing compared to what Nico and Zoi encountered in PyeongChang.

The kids have done more than alright here. It's going to take something pretty special to prevent a couple of teenagers becoming your Halberg Sportsman and Sportswoman for 2018.

Andrew Gourdie is a sports reporter/presenter and host of RadioLIVE's Sunday Sport from 2pm.