SAHOF Breaking News

10th Sep 2019

MEDIA RELEASE: Next generation of sporting stars to get gold medal advice

2019 SAHOF Gala Dinner

Five of Australia’s most promising young athletes will benefit from the wealth of experience of our nation’s very best as a part of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame 2020 Scholarship and Mentoring Program.

Now in its 14th year, the program is designed to help young Australians reach the highest levels of their sport, by providing encouragement and funding over a 14-month period.

The five athletes chosen for 2020 include Tokyo Olympic skateboarding aspirant Hayley Wilson, featherweight boxer Jack Denahy, two-time world junior track cycling champion Luke Plapp, world under 17 water ski champion Sade Ferguson and under 23 kayak world champion Tom Green.

The five young athletes receive one-on-one personal mentoring by a current member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame along with a $5,000 sporting expenses grant.

Mentors include Olympic gold medallists Libby Trickett OAM and Grant Hackett OAM, squash world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald AM, surf lifesaving champion Kristy Munroe AM and Australian football legend Kevin Sheedy AO.

With one month to go until the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner, the successful recipients will be presented their scholarships by their respective mentors on Thursday, 10th October 2019 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame 2020 Scholarship and Mentoring Program


Sport: Age: Location: Mentor:

Jack Denahy

Boxing 20 Buninyong, VIC Sarah Fitz-Gerald AM

Sade Ferguson

Water Skiing 16 Roma, QLD Kristy Munroe AM
Surf Lifesaving

Tom Green

Canoe/Kayak 20 Mudgeeraba, QLD Grant Hackett OAM

Luke Plapp

Cycling 18 Ingle Farm, SA Libby Trickett OAM
Hayley Wilson Skateboarding 17 Mansfield, VIC Kevin Sheedy AO
Australian Football


Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chair John Bertrand AO said; “What an opportunity for these aspiring champions to receive a turbo boost into the real world of high-end performance sport from some of our countries greatest sportsmen and sportswomen.

All that knowledge and wisdom is now available directly with one-on-one mentoring by Members of the Sport Australia Hall of the Fame.  The impact on these young dream builders will be profound.”


Scholarship recipients and mentor quotes


Jack Denahy: Boxing
“This opportunity means the world to me. Having access to the valuable experience of a sporting great such as Sarah Fitz-Gerald will help me build my career in ways I can’t begin to imagine. The funding and recognition provided will allow me to step my training up to the next level including increased strength and conditioning and seeking the best nutrition. I am truly grateful for the opportunity from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.”

Mentor Quote: Sarah Fitz-Gerald AM (squash)
“I feel really honoured to be asked to mentor Jack, his mother and I have been great friends since we were kids, so to watch her son grow up, make decisions which have led him down this path with sport and now to see him achieving so much and working so hard gives me a huge thrill.”

Boxing Australia Quote: Josh O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer
“It’s a rare privilege for Jack to have been selected to receive a Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship for 2020. The opportunity for him to work with a mentor as accomplished at the highest level as Sarah Fitz-Gerald is a valuable opportunity to further develop himself as an international athlete. Having Sarah in his corner as he vies for qualification to the 2020 Olympics is a major boost to his chances. Boxing Australia is greatly appreciative of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in its support of Jack and boxing.”



Sade Ferguson: Water Skiing
“To be recognised as a recipient of the SAHOF Scholarship Program is definitely an honour. I feel extremely privileged to be recognised as a junior athlete making positive steps in Australian sport. To have an Australian great mentoring me in this next year is definitely going to give me the best opportunity to grow and step it up a gear both personally and as an athlete. Mindset is the biggest part of the game and I’m excited to get started.”

Mentor Quote: Kristy Munroe AM (Surf Life Saving)
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to mentor Sade Ferguson through this wonderful program that matches athletes across different sports. We hear so often ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ and the SAHOF Scholarship and Mentoring Program provides a platform to share our experiences with these incredible rising stars. The challenges of competing on a world stage as a teenager is something I’m very honoured to be able to help Sade with.”

Joint statement from Water Ski and Wakeboard Australia and Water Ski Australia: Grant Barnett President Water Ski & Wakeboard Australia & Stafford Scott Chairman Tournament Water Ski Australia
“The selection of Sade for this prestigious Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship award has delighted all of Australian water skiing. We're so glad to see our nomination of Sade being successful for such an award, as we couldn’t think of anyone else in any sport in Australia that is more deserving. Sade's dedication and commitment over the past 3-4 years has seen her move from a young upcoming Australian Junior to a genuine future star of our sport on the world stage.

We’re excited to see what comes next for Sade, especially with the support and influence her mentorship from Kristy Munroe will bring. Congratulations Sade, well deserved, and we are all super proud of you!”



Tom Green: Canoe/Kayak
“It is an honour to receive a SAHOF Scholarship and to have been recognised by my peers. Being mentored by Grant Hackett, a sporting great, is a privilege that will help make my sporting dreams a reality. The opportunity to learn from someone who has been there and who has experienced the ups and downs of elite competition and can share their lessons learned with me is simply priceless. I look forward to making the most out of this opportunity and I thank everyone involved for their consideration. I hope to one day be able to mentor others to help them chase their dreams no matter how big.”

Mentor Quote: Grant Hackett OAM (Swimming)
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to help guide Tom through the challenges he faces as an athlete. Providing perspective through experience allows any athlete a greater chance of reaching their full potential.”

Paddle Australia Quote: Phil Jones, Chief Executive Officer
“What well deserved recognition of our up and coming paddling star Tom Green to be chosen for support through one of Australia’s most prestigious scholarship programs. Working with an athlete and role-model like Grant Hackett will be a great opportunity for Tom to continue to grow both as an athlete and as a person.

“The Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship tops off an amazing season for Tom.  In an impressive last few weeks he has won two gold medals at the U23 canoe sprint world championships, made the K1 final in only his second senior world championships final and secured a quota place for the Olympic Games for Australia through his performance. We are confident that this scholarship will be a fantastic opportunity to progress his career even further.”



Luke Plapp: Cycling
“The opportunity to have a close relationship with a sporting icon such as Libby, who has reached the highest level in her sport, is a dream come true. Having a ‘sounding board’ to share her insights into coping with the highs and lows and to learn from some of Libby’s life lessons is going to be invaluable. At this time of my sporting journey, this opportunity will inspire me to further my sporting and career ambitions and I am exceptionally grateful.”

Mentor Quote: Libby Trickett OAM (Swimming)
“What an enormous privilege it is to work with a talented athlete such as Luke. I’m looking forward to helping him in any way that I can to support his career and get him closer to reaching his goals in the coming years.”

Cycling Australia Quote: Steve Drake, Chief Executive Officer
“It is a tremendous honour for Luke to be just one of five young athletes in the country selected into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program. It provides a great opportunity for Luke to learn from one of the very best athletes in Libby Trickett, and we wish him all the best.”



Hayley Wilson: Skateboarding
“It is a huge honour to be selected as a SAHOF Scholarship Recipient and I look forward to and will be totally committed to working with my mentor, Kevin Sheedy. It is an honour to be able to work with a sporting great who has a wealth of knowledge and experience and I look forward to being a mentee working with Kevin in areas such as life balance, striving for excellence and success, and dealing with setbacks due to injury. It will truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity which I will embrace.”

Mentor Quote: Kevin Sheedy AO (Coach - Australian Football)
“During my career I have been fortunate to gain knowledge from my mentors and believe now is the time for me to share that with Hayley an aspiring athlete from another sport.”

Skate Australia Quote: Karen Doyle, President
“On behalf of the Board of Skate Australia, we are all thrilled that Hayley has been awarded a 2020 SAHOF Scholarship and that Kevin Sheedy AO will be her mentor throughout the scholarship program. Hayley is a young woman with her sights set firmly on competing for Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Street Skateboarding. We are excited for what the future will bring. As an icon of Australian sport, I am sure Kevin will be able to give Hayley the benefit of his wisdom and experience in elite sport.”



About the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Vision is to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian Sport and to inspire all Australians to achieve their potential both in sport and life.

The Scholarship and Mentoring Program is one opportunity to continue achieving our vision by helping young Australians achieve at the highest level of their sport and to inspire the next generation to achieve their potential both in sport and life.

Since the introduction of the program in 2006, 73 young Australian athletes (76 Scholarships) (view full Scholarship list here) across 34 sports and 50 Members as mentors have benefited from the opportunity of a lifetime to draw on the experience and wisdom of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members in addition to the valuable cash grant.

Notable graduates of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program include Patrick Mills (basketball), Lauren Mitchell (gymnastics), Jessicah Schipper (swimming), Dylan Alcott (wheelchair basketball), Caroline Buchanan (BMX), Michael Hepburn (cycling), Ashleigh Gentle (triathlon), Annabelle Smith (diving) and Dani Samuels (athletics).

Scholarship holders have been privileged to be mentored by such Australian sporting greats as; Catherine Freeman OAM, Susie O’Neill AM, Adam Gilchrist AM, Robert de Castella AO MBE and Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chair John Bertrand AO.

Established in 1985, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame plays a vital role in preserving and perpetuating Australia’s rich sporting heritage, whilst promoting the values of courage, sportsmanship, integrity, mateship, persistence, and excellence, all underpinned by generosity, modesty, pride and ambition.

The 35th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala Dinner


Australia’s most prestigious sporting awards ceremony


Thursday 10th October 2019


From 5:45pm (Media, VIP and Members) and 6:30pm (Guests)


Palladium at Crown, Melbourne


The largest collective gathering of Australian sporting greats and luminaries


The Induction of seven new Australian sporting greats into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame

Elevation of one member as the 41st Legend of Australian Sport

Naming of ‘The Don’ Award winner

Presentation to the 2020 recipients of the Scholarship and Mentoring Program


The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is determined to carry to Australians everywhere the symbol of excellence as represented by its 565 Members across all sports and genders. Membership of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is the crowning achievement of a sporting career and represents the highest level of peer recognition for an individual's contribution to his or her sport. For more information about criteria and how to nominate please click here.


For further information, please contact:

Tania Sullivan - The Sport Australia Hall of Fame
T: 03 9510 2066

 David Culbert – Jump Media & Marketing
 T: 0417 272 641

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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.