By Nick Butler

Bibian Mentel-Spee of the Netherlands is one of the two recipients ©Getty ImagesMarch 15 - Snowboarding's first ever Paralympic champion Bibian Mentel-Spee and Australian skiing medallist Toby Kane are the two winners of the Whang Youn Dai award for exemplifying the spirit of the Games at Sochi 2014. 

The duo, who will receive their awards tomorrow during the Closing Ceremony of the Games, were selected from a shortlist of six nominees which included four other Sochi 2014 champions in Russian skiers Mikhalina Lysova and Roman Petushkov and two Canadians, curler Sonja Gaudet and cross-country skier Brian McKeever.

The award, presented to one male and one female athlete at every Paralympic Games since Seoul 1988, acknowledges those who have "overcome adversity and put the spirit of the Games into motion."

Mentel-Spee, 41, has been instrumental in getting snowboarding onto the programme for the first time while Kane, who won Australia's only medal of the Games so far with super-combined bronze yesterday, has taken on a key leadership role within the Australian team.

This comes after several setbacks in the team during the build-up to the Games, it was explained, particularly following the tragic death of Australian snowboarder Matthew Robinson after he crashed during the World Cup Finals in Spain last month. 

Toby Kane of Australia was acknowledged for his leadership role in the Australian team ©Getty ImagesToby Kane of Australia was acknowledged for his leadership role in the Australian team
©Getty Images

Kane and Mentel-Spee were selected from a shortlist of six nominees by an independent panel of judges, consisting of International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board members Andrew Parsons, Miguel Sagarra and Duane Kale.

This comes after a total of 25 nominations made by National Paralympic Committee Presidents and Chef de Missions.

Parsons, vice-president of the IPC, will present both Kane and Mentel-Spee with a gold medal during the Closing Ceremony and both athletes were delighted today following their unveiling as the two winners. 

"I feel very proud to have been nominated by my National Paralympic Committee and I feel very proud and humbled to be nominated for an award about the Paralympic spirit," said Kane.

"I'm very proud to have gone to three Paralympic Games, I'm a very proud Paralympian and I really believe in sport for people with a disability in terms of what it can show the world." 

Mentel-Spee was similarly delighted following her award, and described feeling "overwhelmed with the fact that I have received the award."

"After winning my gold medal yesterday, this is even better," she added. 

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