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Cotterell and Telford Inducted in Sport Australia Hall of Fame

Two of Australia’s most influential sporting servants will be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame next week.

Master swimming coach Denis Cotterell and pioneering sports scientist and athletics coach Dick Telford are the first of the eight inductees to be announced ahead of the sell-out 30th anniversary Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner to be held in Melbourne next Thursday.

The pair will be inducted as General Members, established to acknowledge individuals who have shown excellence and achieved outstanding results in roles supporting sports participants (such as administration, coaching/training, sports media/history and sports science/technology).

Cotterell produces a regular stroke of genius

For more than 30 years, master swim coach Denis Cotterell has been responsible for some of the great swimmers in Australian Sport.

As coach at the Miami Swimming Club in Queensland since its inception in 1976, and as an Australian Swim Team coach on more than 20 occasions since 1987, including three Olympic Games, and multiple Commonwealth Games, world championships and Pan Pacific Games, Cotterell has been on the pool deck alongside the likes of Grant Hackett, Giaan Rooney, Andrew Baildon and Daniel Kowalski.

Cotterell has mentored scores more at junior level, being voted Australia’s age group coach of the year on multiple occasions. In 2007 he was made a life member of the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association.

In entering the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Cotterell joins the likes of fellow swim coaching greats such as Laurie Lawrence, Don Talbot and Forbes Carlile.

“I am very humbled and honoured to be recognised and inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame,” Cotterell said.

“It’s been a long journey, I’ve been very fortunate to be associated with some great athletes over my time and very proud of what they have achieved over the years.”

“For me it hasn’t just been swimming. I’ve had a long involvement with a large number of triathletes and all the best surf life savers over the last 20 to 30 years.”

After 43 years in the job, Cotterell has no trouble staying motivated.

“It usually comes down to the people you are involved with, you’re looking at the faces of kids with aspirations and ambitions and they’re looking back at you hoping you can help them achieve their potential and achieve those goals.”

When asked for his most treasured career highlight, Cotterell said most of them involved Grant Hackett, in particular his battle with illness leading into the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

“Despite his form and his rankings going into most of those meets, he overcame severe challenges with his health to prevail on the day,” Cotterell said.

Robert de Castella MBE, chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee said the induction of Cotterell was recognition of his incredible contribution to Australian sport.

“Queensland has produced many great swimmers, but few coaches match the achievements of the legendary Denis Cotterell,” de Castella said.

“Some coaches are blessed with great athletes ‘falling’ into their laps, whilst others create them from the ground up. Denis Cotterell has produced a seemingly never ending string of champions that attest to his wonderful coaching talents and his ability to inspire greatness.”

Grant Hackett will be the presenter when Denis Cotterell is officially inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on stage at the annual awards gala dinner next Thursday night.

Sustained innovation has Telford hungry for knowledge

One of Australia’s first full-time sports scientists, Dick Telford AM has always relied on the breakfast of champions as opposed to weird and exotic concoctions to help his athletes achieve success.

The first sports scientist appointed by the Australian Institute of Sport, Telford pioneered sports science at the AIS. Now a Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra, Dick Telford is a research director of the Lifestyle of our Kids (LOOK) study which has been tracking physical literacy in children since 2005.

As a footballer he won the J.J. Liston medal for the VFL’s best and fairest, as a cricket coaching co-ordinator and manager he twice was involved in victorious Victorian Sheffield Shield teams, and as an athletic coach he has guided 8 Commonwealth Games medal winning performances. His runners have included Olympic marathon silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lisa Martin (Ondieki) and Commonwealth Games gold medallists Andrew Lloyd, Kate Anderson and most recently, Glasgow marathon champion Michael Shelley.

In reflecting on how times have changed in coaching, Telford recalled a time in the early ‘70s when he was he senior coach of both the Preston Bullants Football Club and Preston Cricket Club, with only one assistant. With the Bullants in the finals, and cricket pre-season training beginning, he laughs about the time he changed from his football to cricket gear out on the oval to take over cricket training.

“Things have changed dramatically. Now there are large professional specialists looking after the players along with the head coach with everything from general training planning, psychology, fitness work, and specific skills work,” Telford said.

In nominating career highlights Telford finds it difficult to isolate a myriad of very memorable experiences. “The unexpected victories of  Andrew Lloyd in Auckland and Michael Shelley in Glasgow along with Lisa Martin (Ondieki) becoming Australia’s only Olympic marathon medallist are all high on the list,” he said.

Telford’s passion for physical activity and sport is as strong as ever as he continues his research work in the field including a longitudinal study – Lifestyle of our Kids (LOOK) that is measuring physical activity in children through to adulthood.

“We’ve shown that without proper, well conducted physical activity including enjoyable sport and physical education during the formative stages of primary school then kids enter secondary school with greater risk of health problems that can set the patterns for a lifetime,” Telford said. “And despite popular opinion, allocating time to PE can help academic progress.”

On the induction, de Castella, who was employed as a young sports science technician at the AIS under the watchful eye of Telford, said he has been a ground breaker.

“Dick Telford was Australia’s first full time applied sports scientist, when he bravely accepted the role to head up and establish the new AIS Sport Science and Medicine unit in 1981,” de Castella said.

“Through that role he helped establish Australia’s sporting success and integrated sports science and medicine into coaching and high performance programs. He is also one of Australia’s most successful athletic coaches and continues to be a leading scientist and researcher addressing children’s inactivity.”

Robert de Castella will be making the presentation to Dick Telford as part of his official Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction next Thursday night.

143 members have previously been inducted as General Members of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.  Along with 382 Athlete Members, there are a total of 525 members of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

With a vision and values built around the words of the first inductee and Legend of Australian Sport, Sir Donald Bradman AC, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is determined to carry to all Australians everywhere the symbol of excellence, as represented by all its members across all sports and genders.


Vale Ron Barassi AM

Vale Ron Barassi AM

27/02/1936 – 16/09/2023 The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is mourning the passing of esteemed Member…

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