Sheldon Riley will represent Australia at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin after being crowned the winner of the Australian Eurovision competition at the live final on the Gold Coast.
The 22-year-old, who performed the majority of his song wearing a mask, saw off competition including songstress Paulini, former Eurovision representative Isaiah Firebrace, and Perth metal quintet Voyager, with their original song, Not The Same.
2022 will be the seventh time Australia competes in the iconic song competition, having first done so in 2015.
Eurovision was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Australia’s representative Montaigne was forced to sing remotely for her 2021 performance because of border restrictions.
Italian rock band Maneskin won last year’s contest with their song Zitti e Buoni. Their win secured Italy’s gig at hosting this year’s contest.
Speaking after his sensational victory Riley said he was speechless.
“This is everything I have worked for and dreamed of since I can remember,” Riley said.
“I am so incredibly honoured to represent Australia on the biggest stage in the world.
“I have said this a few times throughout this Aus Decides experience that people will choose different when given the chance to see it. Thank you for giving me my chance to prove that.”
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The singer was one of 11 acts on stage on the Gold Coast on Saturday night, with a winner decided by public SMS vote and an expert jury panel.
After performing his song, Not the Same, an emotional Riley said he’s proud of everyone who follows their own path.
“Stand for what you believe in because we’re not the same and that’s OK,” he said.
Riley, who grew up on the Gold Coast, performed wearing a mask and accessories.
“Doing this and dressing this way in Australia isn’t always easy. I’m always unapologetically myself but to be in this space where everyone’s celebrating my difference, it’s incredible.”
The jury gave top points to Jaguar Jonze for her song Little Fires while Voyager received the most points by the public.
Australia is set to keep performing until at least 2023.
Australia has had some very successful Eurovision participants over the years, including Dami Im in 2016, who placed runner-up overall with her song Sound of Silence.
After two tumultuous COVID-stricken years, Eurovision is now dealing with another crisis.
The European Broadcasting Union announced on Friday, because of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia would be banned from competing this year as it would “bring the competition into disrepute.”
The EBU made the decision after Ukraine and several other European public broadcasters including Sweden, Finland and Denmark had called for Russia to be expelled.
Last Updated on Feb 27, 2022