ASH BARTY WINS AUSTRALIAN SPORT’S HIGHEST HONOUR, THE DON AWARD, AND PETER NORMAN TAKES OUT THE DAWN AWARD
2022 SPORT AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME AWARDS
Triple Grand Slam champion Ash Barty is this year’s winner of Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s The Don Award, while Olympic silver medallist the late Peter Norman has also been honoured with The Dawn Award.Barty and Norman’s wife, Jan accepted their respective awards, featuring in the television special, Sport Australia Hall of Fame: Heroes and Legends, on the Seven Network tonight.
The Don Award, named in recognition of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s inaugural Inductee, Sir Donald Bradman AC, is considered the highest honour in Australian sport, awarded to an athlete or a team which has provided the most inspiration to the nation through performance and example in the past year.Speaking with Abbey Gelmi, Barty reflected on the honour and the last 12 months including her Australian Open win in January which turned out to be her final grand slam.
“This is such a special night to celebrate sport all around Australia and iconic athletes and I feel very privileged to play a small part in that. I am so honoured to win The Don Award, one of the most special acknowledgements in Australian sport,” said Barty.“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open, result aside, that had nothing to do with it. It felt free. I played without consequence, I played like a little kid.
“In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.“(Ahead of the presentation) I turned and saw Evonne, and that moment for me encapsulated how lucky I was as a person, how fortunate I was as an athlete to have so many incredible people interested in me and my career and following along the journey.”
Barty is only the third athlete or team to have won The Don Award more than once, having received it in 2019.Entering 2022 as the world’s number one female tennis player, the Queenslander became the first homegrown Australian Open singles champion since 1978. Two months later and still the top-ranked player in the world, Barty announced her retirement from professional tennis.
She quit at the top of her game with dignity and displaying the utmost professionalism, acknowledging she did not believe she could devote the time and effort required to remain number one.As a result of these actions and achievements, Barty was accorded the honour of her second The Don Award.
Barty came into this year’s Australian Open having won the singles and doubles (with partner Storm Sanders) at the Adelaide International. During the Grand Slam tournament at Melbourne Park Barty did not drop a set, losing only three service games.Barty not only became the first Australian woman since Chris O’Neal to win her home Grand Slam, she is also one of only a handful of women to secure a major tournament on three different surfaces.
After winning the Open, Barty announced to close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua in March that she was retiring from tennis.Barty told Dellacqua: “I don’t have the physical drive, the emotional want and everything it takes to challenge yourself at the very top of the level any more. I am spent.”
Barty became only the second female player to have retired while holding the number one ranking in the world.
The Dawn Award, named after swimming great Dawn Fraser AC MBE, recognises a courageous ground-breaker who has demonstrated achievement against the odds and challenged the status quo, and Norman certainly did that during his memorable life, as reflected on by his wife, Jan.
“This would’ve meant everything to Peter, and certainly to the family, it’s wonderful for us,” said Norman.“It’s such a shame that he’s not here to see all this. They have a statue of him at Albert Park Lake, they apologised in Parliament to him, and he’s won various other awards… he would’ve been absolutely delighted.
“He was an absolute larrikin, he was all for the underdog – which is how he got himself involved in all this in the first place.“Some people weren’t happy that Peter wasn’t on the statue (with Tommie Smith and John Carlos). Peter was fine about that because he thought ‘this is great, because other people can stand in my place and be part of the whole thing as well’ so he was more than happy that it was just the two on the statue.”
The champion Australian sprinter is best remembered for the role he played at the medal ceremony after the men’s 200-metre final in the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 when he supported fellow athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos.Smith and Carlos raised their gloved fists in protest at the treatment of African-Americans in the United States, a stance widely known as the Black Power Salute.
Wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, a dignified Norman stood in solidarity with the American pair.Despite copping a subsequent backlash, Norman never backed away from supporting the actions on that day and for this reason he is the recipient of The Dawn Award for 2022.
Norman’s time of 20.06 seconds in the 200-metre final in Mexico City set an Australian record that stood well into the 21st century. The race had been perceived to be a battle between Smith and Carlos, but Norman split the pair to take the silver medal.In one of the most controversial medal ceremonies in Olympic history, Smith and Carlos stood on the victory dais with fists covered in symbolic black gloves and shoeless to highlight the plight of poverty-stricken African-Americans.
The pair lifted their arms in the Black Power Salute as the United States flag was raised and the country’s national anthem played to a packed stadium.Some argued Norman was not selected for the 1972 Olympic Games due to his stance in Mexico City, while others believed his failure to win a selection trial as he struggled with injury was the major reason why he was left out of the squad for Munich.
But Norman’s courage to take a stand against racism alongside Smith and Carlos was a powerful message that has continued to resonate with people across the world, with films and statues of the moment being created.On his return home Norman faced a mixed reaction from the Australian public and sections of the sporting community for his role in the protest.
While many respected and admired his stance, others were less enthusiastic and denigrated his actions.Smith and Carlos demonstrated their respect and admiration for Norman when they came to Australia to deliver eulogies and be pallbearers at his funeral in 2006.
In 2012, the Australian Government issued an apology to Norman for the way he had been treated.At the time, the Australian Olympic Council (AOC) maintained Norman had never been penalised and was only cautioned for his role in the protest.
But the AOC admitted it had been negligent in not properly recognising the significant role he played in an event that has become an important symbol for human rights throughout the world.In 2018, Athletics Australia celebrated Norman’s contribution by creating the ‘Peter Norman Humanitarian Award’ to honour his legacy as an athlete and advocate for human rights.
Tonight’s awards ceremony also paid tribute to the nine new Inductees into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame: paralympic movement pioneer Sir George Bedbrook OBE, former Australian netball captain and multiple Commonwealth Games medallist Catherine Cox AM, former Australian Rugby League captain Brad Fittler, four-time consecutive Olympic Games softball medallist Tanya Harding, triple Commonwealth Games tenpin bowling gold medallist Cara Honeychurch, former Australian basketball coach Dr Adrian Hurley OAM, two-time Brownlow medallist and six-time AFL All-Australian Chris Judd, winner of 41 LPGA tour titles and two-time LPGA player of the year award winner, Karrie Webb AO, and Mark Webber AO, the first Australian to win a Formula One race in 28 years. The night also celebrated two Members who were elevated to Legend status: Ron Clarke AO MBE and Shane Warne AO.The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards program is sponsored by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport, and proudly supported by Sportscover and Victoria University.
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