It’s one of the most famous sayings in Australian sport and tonight the who’s who of Australian sport said ‘Bewdy Newk’ in unison as tennis great John Newcombe AO OBE was elevated to Legend status by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner.
In other awards, presented to a sell-out crowd, dual Commonwealth and reigning Olympic 100 metres hurdles champion Sally Pearson OAM received ‘The Don’ award as the Australian athlete who most inspired the nation through her achievements in the past twelve months.
Earlier in the evening eight Australian sporting greats were Inducted as Members into the Hall of Fame and five young athletes were announced as recipients of the 2015 Scholarship and Mentoring Program to assist them achieve their sporting dreams.
Finally three “Great Sporting Moments” were enshrined into the Hall of Fame and two world champion Australian sporting teams were recognised with Team Sport Australia awards (more details below).
The 30th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala Dinner was a sold-out event and is proudly presented by Major Sponsor Etihad Airways. The milestone occasion also marked the renewal of Etihad Airways’ partnership with The Sport Australia Hall of Fame for another four years, with John Bertrand delighted with the continuing partnership.
“To become a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is the ultimate accolade for a sportsman or sportswomen in Australia. One can go no higher. So it is with Etihad Airways and The Sport Australia Hall of Fame. This renewal extends our partnership to ten years (2009-2019) with the “World’s leading airline” - a remarkable example of excellence combined with excellence,” Bertrand said.
Newcombe elevated to become the “36th Legend of Australian Sport”
One of the nation’s most loved sporting stars John Newcombe OA OBE has been elevated to “Legend” status by The Sport Australia Hall of Fame - becoming the “36th Legend of Australian Sport”.
A former world number one tennis player, Newcombe won seven Grand Slam singles titles, as one of the last of the Australians to dominate international tennis in the late 1960s and ‘70s. Wins including Wimbledon singles in 1967, 1970, and 1971, the US Open in 1967 and 1973, and the Australian Open in 1973 and 1975 were an Aussie sports fan’s delight.
Newcombe's serve, forehand and volley were the backbone of his attacking game, that was at its best on grass. His heavy serve was possibly the best of his era. To the delight of fans, and the surprise of his opponents, he frequently came up with a second-serve ace.
Newcombe also amassed an all-time record 17 doubles titles, and is one of the few men to have been ranked world number one in both singles and doubles.
Newcombe was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an inaugural Athlete Member in 1985, and in 1986, his achievements were recognised with his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
But for all his greatness on the tennis court, Newcombe is celebrated equally as the quintessential Aussie bloke with his trademark moustache (at one stage rumoured to be insured in the millions), and known simply as “Newk”.
Newcombe was gracious in accepting the honour of being elevated to Legend of Australian Sport saying, “You look around at all the legends here and they are the ones who I grew up idolising and I find myself sitting up here on stage, it’s pretty humbling.”
When asked about where the well known fire that he displayed on the court came from, Newcombe pointed to his mother as his major influence.
“My mum was the one who really encouraged me to use that fire in a positive way and I listened to that advice and it’s the best advice I can give to young kids today,” Newcombe said.
“If you do have that fire in your belly it can go one of two ways. If it goes in a negative way, you’re never going to make it. If you use that fire in a positive way it can be a tremendous support for you,” Newcombe said
Newcombe nominated John McEnroe as the one player that he would have loved to play against if he had the opportunity saying, “I would have had some fun with him.”
Robert de Castella AO MBE, chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee observed that Australia has a rich and proud tradition in tennis.
“Newk continued that tradition through the 1960s and 70s with an incredible seven Grand Slam victories and astonishing 17 Double titles,” de Castella said.
“Tonight we elevate this incredible Australian sporting champion into Legend status.”
Sally Pearson snares The Don
Sally Pearson OAM became only the second athlete to win the ‘The Don’ award for a second time, joining fellow track and field star Steve Hooker OAM who took home the prestigious award in 2008 and 2009. Pearson previously prevailed two years ago.
The award, named after inaugural Inductee and Legend of Australian sport Sir Donald Bradman AC, celebrates the athlete whose achievements have most inspired the nation through his or her example in the past twelve months.
Pearson pipped an exceptional field of finalists comprising formula one grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo, NBA champion Patrick Mills, Commonwealth Games marathon man Michael Shelley, Sochi aerials bronze medallist Lydia Lassila, cricketer Mitchell Johnson and tennis young-gun Nick Kyrgios.
Other former winners of the award which commenced in 1998 include Cadel Evans OAM (2011), Lydia Lassila OAM (2010), Mathew Mitcham OAM (2009), Glenn McGrath AM (2007), Alisa Camplin (2002), Cathy Freeman OAM (2000) and Ian Thorpe OAM in 1999.
Pearson, who despite battling a run of hamstring injuries, successfully defended her Commonwealth Games 100 metres hurdles title in Glasgow amid stiff competition, was to receive the award.
“To be honest, this is a huge surprise I really didn’t expect this tonight.”
“After the year that I had trying to get back in seven weeks to make the Commonwealth Games after tearing my hamstring, that was hard enough, so I did not expect it this year,” Pearson said.
Pearson was passionate when talking about her role in inspiring the next generation of athletes.
“We have a fantastic group of kids coming through and I want to keep them in our sport, I want them to love our sport as much as I do, and grow up in a really positive environment,” Pearson said.
“The measure of a champion is not how they deal with success, but how they deal with adversity,” selection committee chair de Castella said in recognition of Pearson’s win.
“Sally’s Commonwealth Games performance was inspirational. She overcame not just the other competition, battling injury and a less than ideal preparation, but the way she rose to overcome the high profile clash from within the sport tested her both physically and emotionally, demonstrating incredible strength, professionalism and character.”
Eight stars and servants of Australian sport honoured with Hall of Fame Induction
The night also saw The Sport Australia Hall of Fame induct as Athlete Members six of the nation’s greatest champions who have achieved the highest honours at the top level of competition and as General Members two skilled servants who have shown outstanding achievements in supportive roles.
The Inductees will join 525 existing Members who represent the pinnacle of over 160 years of sporting excellence.
“To be selected into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is not just a matter of being a champion athlete or sportsperson, you actually have to have a little bit of extra intangible quality that really elevates you into that level of greatness which the Hall of Fame acknowledges and represents,” de Castella said in awarding one of the highest of this sporting nation’s individual honours.
Further details of each Inductee can be found here.
Scholarship and Mentoring Program
Five young Australians were also recipients of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame 2015 Scholarship and Mentoring Program. In addition to being mentored by a Sport Australia Hall of Fame Member and some of Australia’s greatest athletes, recipients also receive a $5000 sporting expenses grant, and an international return airfare, courtesy of Etihad Airways.
Scholarships are awarded to aspiring athletes under the age of 21 to help them reach the highest levels of their sport.
“Not only does the Scholarship and Mentoring Program provide recipients with financial assistance, it allows them unrivalled access to some of Australia’s sporting greats,” said John Bertrand AM, chairman of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Team Sport Australia Awards
Two teams were recognised for their significant contribution to Australian sporting history. They are:
· 1999 World Champion Netball Team [Jennifer Borlase, Jacqui Delaney, Liz Ellis, Sharon Finnan, Kathryn Harby, Janine Ilitch, Sharelle McMahon, Shelley O’Donnell, Rebecca Sanders, Peta Scholz, Carrisa Tombs, Vicki Wilson (Captain) with Coach - Jill McIntosh]. Trailing New Zealand 28-34 at three quarter time in the gold medal playoff, they snatched the title 42-41 with a last minute goal from McMahon, giving Australia its third straight world title.
Great Sporting Moments
Three Great Sporting Moments that help define our almost unchallenged reputation as a great sporting nation were recognised:
· Phar Lap’s victory in the 1930 Melbourne Cup
Established in 1985, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame aims to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian Sport and excite the next generation of Australians to achieve their potential both in sport and in life. The aim is to preserve Australia's rich sporting heritage by honouring these great athletes, and use the values and experience of Members to inspire future stars of Australian sport.
Major Sponsor Etihad Airways is joined by The Sport Australia Hall of Fame partners, the Australian Sports Commission, DrinkWise Australia and Victoria University, along with media partners News Corp and the Seven Network.
For more information about The Sport Australia Hall of Fame, visit www.sahof.org.au.
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For further information (media only) or for interview requests, please contact the Sport Australia Hall of Fame media team: