25th Anniversary of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction & Awards Dinner
Presented by Etihad Airways
Arguably the greatest ever collection of Australian sporting champions gathered tonight at the Crown Palladium Room in Melbourne for the 25th Anniversary of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner. Legends of the past including Margaret Court, Bart Cummings, Dawn Fraser, Sir Jack Brabham and Evonne Cawley joined recently retired greats Shane Warne, Liz Ellis, Mick Doohan and Luc Longley and current day champions; Steve Hooker, Dani Samuels and Jessica Schipper to name a few.
The Don Award
The highlight of the night was the much anticipated announcement of the winner of the Don Award. Named after Sir Donald Bradman, the “Don” recognizes the sporting achievement of the year which has inspired the nation.
From a strong group of nominees including last year’s Legend Bart Cummings who extended his Melbourne Cup record to 12 when Viewed narrowly won the 2008 Melbourne Cup at Flemington; Dani Samuels the youngest world discus champion in history at 21, when she won gold in the Women’s Discus at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin; Mark Webber, whose victory at the classic Nurburgring circuit in Germany, made him only the third Australian to win a Formula One Grand Prix; Jessica Schipper’s World Record in the 200m butterfly to defend her World Championship title in Rome; Former World Number 4 Jelena Dokic’s amazing effort to reach the 2009 Australian Open quarter finals; it was Steve Hooker’s extraordinary performance at the at the World Athletic Championships in Berlin in August where he overcame a torn adductor and a neural problem in his upper thigh to claim victory with a jump of 5.90m, which was recognised to be the outstanding sporting achievements of the year.
“To defy the odds and the advice of team doctors and pull out an amazing jump under incredible pressure is the sign of a true champion,” said Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand. “The Don Award is about inspiring the nation, and Steve’s performance at the World Championships is one that all Australians can be very proud.”
Of the 494 members, only 28 members have been elevated to Legend status. Tonight, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, two members were recognized as Legends.
Edwin Flack, Australia’s first ever Olympian and first Olympic gold medalist won both the 800 metres and 1500 metres at the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. He was also undoubtedly our most versatile Olympian, competing not only on the track, but in the marathon and also in both singles and doubles tennis.
Tennis was the sport of choice for new Legend Ken Rosewall. In a career that lasted an incredible 19 years, Ken won his first grand slam in 1953 and his last in 1972. “Muscles” amassed 18 Grand Slam singles titles – eight singles, nine doubles and one mixed, despite being sidelined from Grand Slams for 12 years by the professional/amateur standoff in the sport.
Our Member Inductees have achieved and won at the highest level in their respective sports of AFL, Archery, Basketball, Cricket, Motorcycle Racing, Netball, Rugby Union, and Olympics administration.
Legendary AFL Premiership coach Kevin Sheedy was joined by Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Fairweather, NBA superstar and Australia’s greatest international Basketballer Luc Longley, Australia’s most prolific wicket-taker in Australian Test cricket history Shane Warne, 500cc Motorcycle Racing Champion Mick Doohan, World Champion Netballer and former Australian Captain Liz Ellis, and Peter Montgomery who has represented Australia as either a water polo player or administrator at every Olympics since 1972. Our most capped Wallaby George Gregan was unable to attend due to overseas commitments; his father John accepted the award on his behalf.
2009 Sport Australia Hall Of Fame Scholarships
Our sporting champions of the future were also recognized tonight with six young Australians awarded Sport Australia Hall Of Fame scholarships. In addition to a cash component, the scholarships have a unique mentoring opportunity with current members.
Nathan Johnstone NSW – Snowboarding – Junior Athlete of the Year
Mentor: Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Bradbury
Matthew Goble SA – Kayaking – Australian Champion.
Mentor: Olympic Gold Medalist. Mike McKay
Ryan Gregson NSW – Athletics – 1500m World Championship Representative.
Mentor: Former Australian Wallaby Captain Nick Farr – Jones
Blake Lucas Vic – Athletics – Open National Pol Vault Championship.
Mentor: Marathon Champion Derek Clayton
Michael Hepburn QLD – Cycling – World Junior Cycling Champion.
Mentor: Wallabies ChampionTim Horan
Holly Aitken Vic – Triathlon – World Junior Triathlon Championships Representative.
Mentor: World Surf Life Saving Champion Karla Gilbert
The 25th Anniversary Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner was proudly presented by Major Sponsor Etihad Airways.
“Our support for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is an ideal way for Etihad to demonstrate its commitment to Australia, which is a very important market for us” said CEO James Hogan. “This partnership is a perfect fit for Etihad – a young airline with a vision to be the best in the world, striving for excellence in everything we do”.
Etihad Airways was joined by Sport Australia Hall of Fame Partners DrinkWise Australia, the Australian Sports Commission and Media Partner News Limited.