Once again, one of Australia’s greatest ever collection of sporting champions gathered at the Crown Palladium Room in Melbourne for the 26th Anniversary of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner. Legends of the past including Bart Cummings, Ken Rosewall and Bill Roycroft, joined recently retired greats Grant Hackett, Kirstie Marshall, Sarah Fitz-Gerald, David Hall and many of our past and current day champions; Lydia Lassila, Simon Fairweather, James Tomkins, Stephen Bradbury, Mick Doohan and Kieren Perkins 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 two Winter Olympic Gold medalists Lydia Lassila and Torah Bright who thrilled Australia with their exciting performances in Canada earlier this year; to the inspirational performance of Wheelchair athlete Kurt Fearnley who won three marathons during the year, in addition to dragging himself across the hazardous Kokoda track; Mark Webber’s tremendous form throughout the 2010 F1 Season, winning four races; Victorian Neil Robertson whose performance to win the 2010 Snooker World Championship shot him to fame overnight; Surfing sensation Stephanie Gilmour who collected her third world championship during the year; Sally Pearson for her gracious acceptance of losing the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and Geoff Heugill for his comeback and amazing weight loss to capture gold in Delhi, it was our Winter Olympic Aerial Ski champion Lydia Lassila who was tonight given this prestigious honour.
Of the 503 Members, only 32 members have been elevated to Legend status. In 2010 two Members were honoured by their peers as Legends of Australian Sport.
Undoubtedly the greatest lock-forward Australian rugby league has seen, John Raper played 185 matches for both Newton and St.George, playing in eight winning grand finals across an incredible eleven year period. He represented NSW 24 times whilst playing 33 Test matches as a Kangaroo; captaining the World Cup winning side of 1968.
‘Lethal’ Leigh Matthews played 340 games for Hawthorn; playing in four premiership sides from seven grand final appearances, captaining the club for five years, kicking 915 goals. He translated his playing experience and skill as a coach, leading Collingwood to its first premiership in 32 years and to Brisbane where he coached the Lions to their first flag � leading to a remarkable hat trick of premiership victories in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Our 2010 Newest Inductees have all achieved and won at the highest level in their respective sports. They join 494 Members recognized for their outstanding contribution to our nations sporting history.
Legendary AFL Premiership player / coaches Alex Jesaulenko and David Parkin were joined by Australia’s most decorated swimmer Grant Hackett, Wheelchair tennis superstar David Hall, Skiing trailblazer Kirstie Marshall, Cycling great Phil Anderson, Squash World Champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald, along with Rugby League innovative player, coach and administrator Kenneth Arthurson. Sports Science pioneer, Dr Howard Toyne who passed away in 2002 was represented this evening by his son Peter Toyne.
Spirit of Sport Award
Another highlight was the presentation of the ‘Spirit of Sport Award’. This award has only been awarded twice before; to Makybe Diva in 2005 in recognition for its three time Melbourne Cup victories and to the MCG in 2006 in recognition as its place in Australia’s heart as a sporting icon. Australia’s greatest and most famous yachtsman John Bertrand appropriately awarded 16 year old round the world solo yachtswoman Jessica Watson whose courage and determination defied the odds and mother- nature to achieve a feat that inspired the nation. Jessica captivated the world during her seven-month quest to become the youngest person to sail solo. ‘ She’s in the spotlight for her genuine talent, courage and enormous sense of adventure’ says Chairman and Current Etchells Yachting World Champion John Bertrand AM.
Great Sporting Moments
Two of Australia’s greatest sporting moments were recognized and enshrined forever into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Shane Warne’s’ ball of the century’ to dismiss Mike Gatting in his first Ashes series proved most popular with News Limited readers around the country. In a first, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame also enshrined a sporting moment which not only defied the odds but demonstrated sportsmanship at its best. The 1956 mile championship race at Olympic Park in Melbourne was the scene. During the race Ron Clarke fell, leaving him with no chance of victory. John Landy stopped and helped Ron get to his feet, then continuing to race and inspirationally win the championship.
2010 Sport Australia Hall Of Fame Scholarships
Our sporting champions of the future were also recognised with six young Australians awarded Sport Australia Hall Of Fame Scholarships. In addition to a cash component, and an Etitad Airlines return flight to Europe for competition, each scholarship winner will have a unique mentoring opportunity with a selected Hall of Fame Member.
Dylan Alcott VIC Age 20 yrs
Wheelchair Basketball – All star 5 at the World Championships this year
Ashlee Ankudinoff NSW Age 20 yrs
Cycling – Outstanding endurance track cyclist who is highly ranked
Caroline Buchanan ACT Age 20 yrs
BMX Mountain Biking – World Champion Mountain Biking 4x and currently is ranked 3rd in world for BMX
Elizabeth Cambage VIC Age 19 yrs
Basketball – Currently in the National Women’s ‘Opals’ team
Lauren Mitchell WA Age 19 yrs
Gymnastics – Won four gold at the Delhi Games and at the recent World Championships won Gold on the Floor
Nicholas Purnell NSW Age 20 yrs
Rowing – Selected in senior eight for World Championships in NZ in November.
In a new initiative the Hall of Fame named 4 Scholarship Ambassadors to promote the program: Holly Aitken (Triathlon), Ryan Gregson (Athletics), Michael Hepburn (Cycling) and Blake Lucas (Athletics).
The 26th Anniversary Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner were proudly presented by Major Sponsor Etihad Airways. James Hogan, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘Etihad Airways is proud to celebrate another year of partnership with the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, an organisation that contributes admirably to the development of Australia’s next generation of world-class athletes, and honours the champions who have gone before them. Our partnership with the Sport Hall of Fame Australia continues to grow. This year, Etihad is providing each Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship winner and the Ambassadors, with return flights to Europe, enabling them to compete at the international level and we wish them the best of luck’.
Etihad Airways was joined by Sport Australia Hall of Fame Partners, The Australian Sports Commission, DrinkWise Australia, Victoria University, and Media Partner News Limited.