Five of the country’s most talented teenagers are set to be mentored by five of Australia’s Hall of Fame members, as part of the 2018 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.
The Scholarship and Mentoring Program aims to help talented young Australians achieve at the highest level of sport, by providing support and funding for a period of 12 months.
The five athletes include sprinter Riley Day, skateboard phenomonen Poppy Starr Olsen, sailor Nia Jerwood, para-snowboarder Ben Tudhope and rising weightlifter Ben Ward.
Awarded annually as part of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner – proudly presented by Etihad Airways – the successful recipients will be presented their scholarships by their respective mentors on Thursday, 12th October 2017 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand AO, who was a mentor to 2013 scholarship holder and Olympic silver medallist sailor Olivia Price, said the mentor program is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“These scholarship and mentoring programs are designed to give our young athletes a turbo boost into the real world of high-end performance on the world stage,” Bertrand said.
“It is a truly money can’t buy experience and the success rate has been a phenomena.”
Successful recipients receive one-on-one personal mentoring by a current member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, in what is a unique and life changing experience. Recipients will also be awarded a $5,000 sporting expenses grant, as well as one international return economy flight thanks to major sponsor Etihad Airways.
The star of Nitro Athletics, Riley Day, who recently competed at the world championships in London as a 17-year-old will be mentored by Olympic water polo gold medallist Debbie Watson OAM. The Beaudesert High School student’s personal bests over 100m and 200m are world-class for her age, highlighted by a silver and gold medal in both events at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“Receiving the Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship is a shock and an amazing surprise,” Day said. “To be chosen out of all of the very deserving applicants is an absolute honour.”
Watson, who was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006, is known as Australia’s greatest ever female water polo player who came out of retirement to help the team win gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“I am hoping I can be an ear for Riley in whatever way she needs, any assistance or advice I can provide to help Riley achieve her goals will be my pleasure to give,” Watson said.
Poppy Starr Olsen is an elite skateboarder who at just 17 travels the world to compete and wants to skate at the Tokyo Olympics. She was thrilled to be paired with 2011 Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee and seven-time surfing world champion Layne Beachley AO who turned professional at the age of just 16 and will have so much advice to offer young Olsen.
“Representing Australia at the Olympics has always been the dream but I guess to be able to make a living from skateboarding would be the ultimate goal,” Olsen said.
“Layne is incredible, it’s going to be awesome to have a mentor that also has a passion for riding a board.
“I can’t wait to learn from her and hear how she deals with different situations.”
Beachley is equally excited to work closely with Olsen who has an obvious passion for her sport.
“Poppy is a skateboarder on a mission and I’m thrilled to be in her corner, mentoring her to become the best athlete she can be,” she said.
“Surfing and skateboarding are on a similar trajectory with inclusion into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games so it’s a wonderful opportunity to share my knowledge as a former world champion and current chair of Surfing Australia with an athlete who has her sights firmly set on fulfilling her potential on the world stage.”
Nia Jerwood has followed in her parents’ footsteps in the sport of sailing competing at the 2017 470 world championship staged on the Bay of Thessaloniki. The skilled sailor will receive advice from the first female hockey player to compete at four Olympics, Liane Tooth OAM. The two-time Olympic women’s hockey gold medal winner from 1988 and 1996, was inducted in 1996 into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Para-snowboard athlete Ben Tudhope, who was born with cerebral palsy, competed at the 2014 winter Paralympics in Sochi at just 14, making him Australia’s, and the world’s youngest ever Winter Paralympian. Tudhope, who was not even five foot tall at the time and finished tenth in the men’s para-snowboard cross, will be mentored by Nick Farr-Jones AM. The former Australian rugby union player was inducted in 1992 and was known as one third of the Wallabies’ “holy trinity” along with David Campese and Michael Lynagh.
Ben Ward only started weightlifting about three years ago and the 17-year-old is smashing national and state records. He is aiming to compete at a home Commonwealth Games in 2018 on the Gold Coast and will prepare for qualifying with the help of 2006 inductee Tim Horan AM, who played 80 games for Australia winning two Rugby World Cups in 1991 and 1999.
Since the introduction of the Program in 2006, 71 scholarships across 35 sports have been awarded.
Such is the success of the program that 20 past and present scholarship recipients represented Australia at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, including dual Paralympic wheelchair tennis gold medallist Dylan Alcott OAM, Paralympic swimming gold medallist Maddison Elliott OAM, cycling team pursuit silver medallist Alex Edmondson, archery team bronze medal winner Alec Potts and synchronised 3m springboard bronze medallist Anabelle Smith.
Other notable graduates of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program include Patrick Mills (basketball), Lauren Mitchell (gymnastics), Jessicah Schipper (swimming) and Caroline Buchanan (BMX).
Scholarship holders have been privileged to be mentored by such Australian sporting greats as; Catherine Freeman OAM, Susie O’Neill OAM, Rechelle Hawkes OAM, Adam Gilchrist AM, Robert de Castella AO MBE and Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chairman John Bertrand AO.
The scholarships will be formally presented at the sold out Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner, proudly presented by Etihad Airways – on Thursday 12th October 2017 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.
2017 will mark the 33rd edition of this event, with a further eight Australian sporting icons, from on and off the field, to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
In addition to the eight inductees, Australian sport’s ‘night of nights’ will see the elevation of one current member to Legend status, becoming the official 39th Legend of Australian Sport. The night will also celebrate ‘The Don’ Award which is widely regarded as Australia’s most prestigious contemporary sporting award.
Established in 1985, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame plays a vital role in preserving and perpetuating Australia’s rich sporting heritage, whilst promoting the values of courage, sportsmanship, integrity, mateship, persistence, and excellence, all underpinned by generosity, modesty, pride and ambition.