SPORT AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES SEVEN NEW INDUCTEES
Seven new inductees were announced today for the nation’s most prestigious sporting organisation, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF).
The 2023 inductees include Olympic gold medallists, one of the country’s greatest footballers, a Paralympic powerhouse, a rugby league superstar, and a coaching visionary. Their outstanding accomplishments have left an indelible mark on the world of sports in Australia and beyond.
The new inductees are Kim Brennan AM, a rowing icon with Olympic gold and multiple medals; Tim Cahill AO, the only Socceroo to play at four FIFA World Cups; Kurt Fearnley AO, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist; aerial skiing Olympic champion Lydia Lassila OAM; Dally M winner and former North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston AM; Nova Peris OAM, the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal as a Hockeyroo and the only person to make back-to-back Summer Olympic Games finals in two different sports; and Tim McLaren OAM, one of the most renowned rowing coaches in the world, who has successfully coached crews at every Olympic Games since 1992.
The inductees will be honoured at a Sport Australia Hall of Fame event to be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on October 16.
The honour roll of induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame features the nation’s biggest sporting names and champions, including Sir Donald Bradman AC, Dawn Fraser AC MBE, Cathy Freeman OAM, Ian Thorpe AM, E.J. “Ted” Whitten OAM, Raelene Boyle AM MBE, Wally Lewis AM, Shane Gould OAM MBE, Sir Jack Brabham AO OBE, Greg Norman AO, Lauren Jackson AO, John Eales AM, Susie O’Neill AM, Rod Laver AC MBE, Bart Cummings AM, Louise Sauvage OAM and Layne Beachley AO, among other luminaries.
Those who are inducted into this elite group are our nation’s leading champions. They have not only excelled in their chosen field, but have done so with dignity, integrity, courage, modesty, pride and ambition.
Membership as an Athlete Member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is limited exclusively to the top echelon of Australian athletes who have all achieved the highest honours at the peak level of competition. General Members are recognised for their outstanding achievements in roles that support sports participants.
In 2023, six former sporting greats are being inducted as Athlete Members of SAHOF and one is being inducted as a General Member. Athletes must be retired from their sport for a period of four years before being eligible for consideration to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Two existing members will also be elevated to Legend of Australian Sport status at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Award luncheon on October 16. Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members must be 15 years retired before being considered for elevation to Legend of Australian Sport.
SPORT AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES FOR 2023
Kim Brennan (nee Crow) AM – Rowing, VIC
Olympic gold medallist and two-time World Champion Kim Brennan AM is one of the most successful rowers Australia has ever produced. Kim’s athletic career began with aspirations in hurdles, marked by a silver medal at the World Youth Athletics Championships and a rising rank in Australian athletics. However, destiny intervened with stress fractures, redirecting her towards rowing. Incredibly, within just three years she represented Australia at her first of three consecutive Olympic Games. Kim’s Olympic journey was marked by the complete set of medals, including silver and bronze in London 2012 and a dazzling gold in Rio 2016, where she became the first Australian woman in 20 years to win an Olympic rowing gold medal, leading the women’s single sculls to victory.
QUOTE: “It is such a huge honour and joining some remarkable people in Australian sport is very exciting and really humbling. Sometimes you undervalue what you did and it’s like, ‘oh it’s something I did seven years ago, no big deal’, and then something like this reminds you that what you did was very special.”
Kurt Fearnley AO – Para-Athletics, NSW
Kurt Fearnley AO is a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist. His remarkable career spanned two decades, marked by three Paralympic gold medals, four World Championships, and dual Commonwealth Games golds. Fearnley, renowned for his prowess in wheelchair marathons, conquered events worldwide, including New York, Chicago, Tokyo and London. Beyond his athletic feats, his unwavering commitment to championing disability rights and inspiring countless Australians saw him become the first athlete with a disability to win The Don Award in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2018.
QUOTE: “The list is just incredible and I don’t know if I’ll ever see myself that way, but I’m grateful to be mentioned at the same time. It’s one of those ‘is this real?’ kind of moments. You’ve got the likes of Louise Sauvage who defined wheelchair racing in this country for over a decade and I’m honoured to follow her.”
Lydia Lassila OAM – Aerial Skiing, VIC
Lydia Lassila OAM stands as one of Australia’s most decorated Winter Olympic athletes. Her stellar career in aerial skiing culminated in a gold and bronze medal, becoming the first Australian female to compete in five Winter Games. Lassila’s journey was marked by resilience, including a near career-ending knee injury in Torino 2006, but she persevered to win gold in Vancouver 2010. Her daring attempts, like the quad-twisting triple somersault in Sochi 2014, left an indelible mark on the sport, and she made history as the first Australian woman to compete in five Winter Olympics at PyeongChang 2018.
QUOTE: “What I used to do in my sporting career now feels quite distant. Life has moved on I suppose pretty quickly, with family and living in a new country. It’s nice to be reminded that I used to be an aerial skier, and I did some really cool things in my career and achieved a lot. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Award has always been a huge inspiration for me through hearing other athletes’ stories and journeys in their careers.”
Johnathan Thurston AM – Rugby League, QLD
Overcoming initial doubts about his size, Johnathan Thurston’s illustrious rugby league career spanned the years from 2002 to 2018, during which he earned four Dally M Medals and inspired his teams and fans as a half-back or five-eighth. He played a pivotal role in North Queensland’s maiden premiership victory in 2015 and was a prominent figure in the State of Origin and international rugby league, earning the Golden Boot Award three times.
QUOTE: “I received a call from John Bertrand to say I’d been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and I thought it was a gee up, but I was very, very honoured. I’ve got a lot of great memories on the rugby league field so it brought a smile to my face. It’s very humbling and I’m very proud.”
Nova Peris OAM – Multi-Sport (Athletics and Hockey), NT
Nova Peris OAM, is a trailblazing athlete celebrated for her achievements in athletics and hockey. As the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, with the Hockeyroos in 1996, she etched her name in history. Unwavering in her pursuit of excellence, Peris transitioned to athletics, securing two gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and representing Australia in two Olympic Games. Her extraordinary journey, marked by dedication and versatility, also made her the first person to qualify for Summer Olympic Games finals in two different sports at consecutive Olympics. Peris’s impact extends beyond sports, as she served in the Australian federal parliament and remains an inspiration to all Australians.
QUOTE: (On receiving an out-of-the blue phone call from Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand AO): “I missed him and then he rang me again and I had to pull over to the side of the road because I was just really overwhelmed by it all. He said, ‘We’re thrilled to have you as one of our members.’ I was hopeless speaking to him on the phone. I kept crying, babbling like a little baby. It’s a real honour and a privilege.”
Timothy Cahill AO – Football, NSW
Tim Cahill AO is an illustrious former Socceroo who represented the nation at a remarkable four FIFA World Cup finals during an international career spanning 15 years. Cahill is on of the all-time leading goal-scorers for Australia, with 50 in 108 games between 2004 and 2018. He was the first Australian to score at a FIFA World Cup. Cahill scored in three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014), making him one of the top Australian goal-scorers at the World Cup with a total of five. Since retiring from football, Cahill’s charitable endeavours include serving as an ambassador for UNICEF and an ambassador for Heartbeat of Football, an Australian organisation that promotes heart health through football.
QUOTE: “I was extremely honoured and excited when I received the call from John. To be joining such an incredible group of athletes from across the history of Australian sport makes me feel both proud and grateful to all those who helped me in my career, especially my family.”
Tim McLaren OAM – Rowing Coach, NSW
Tim McLaren’s commitment to rowing across more than 40 years, as a competitor and a coach and educator, has stamped him as one of the sport’s most influential contributors. Initially an accomplished rower who narrowly missed Olympic gold in 1984, he transitioned to coaching, becoming a revered figure in the sport. His coaching journey took him from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Rowing Club to international prominence, guiding athletes to Olympic success, including the gold medal-winning double sculls team in 1992. McLaren’s technical expertise and dedication transformed Australian rowing, earning him an Order of Australia medal (OAM) in 1998.
QUOTE: “John Bertrand gave me a call. I thought he might have been calling because I’m often a reference for some of my athletes going for jobs or doing something impressive, so it was a surprise for me. I was very surprised in fact. It’s nice, and of course you feel a little under-qualified in a group of such famous names.”
Induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is reserved for the best of the best. Nominations can be submitted by anyone via the SAHOF website. Each year the Selection Committee picks the newest Hall of Famers to join their fellow top echelon of Australian leaders.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chair, Bruce McAvaney OAM said:
“In a year where the drama of sport has held us captive as a nation, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame welcomes six elite athletes and a coach who’ve left an indelible mark in their field. Every one of this year’s inductees has been instrumental in providing this country with unforgettable moments – whether it be at summer or winter Olympics, rugby league State of Origin or football’s World Cup. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than that. Diverse in their sporting prowess, each has excelled over a lifetime, paving the way for those who follow and stamping their own mark on history.”
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards program is sponsored by the Australia Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport and proudly supported by Sportscover and Victoria University.
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