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The stars of the future guided by the stars of yesteryear
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Five of Australia’s brightest young stars will receive mentoring from five of Australia’s greatest athletes, as part of the 2016 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame 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.

Awarded annually as part of the 31st Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner  supported by Etihad Airways – the five successful recipients will be presented their scholarships by their respective mentors on Wednesday, 21st October 2015 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.

 

2016 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program 

Athlete

Sport

Age

Location

Mentor

Ellen Ryan

Lawn Bowls

18

Goulburn, NSW

Dawn Fraser MBE

Georgia Sheehan

Diving

16

Ipswish, QLD

Natalie Cook OAM

Jacob Birtwhistle

Triathlon

20

Launceston, TAS

Glynis Nunn-Cearns OAM

James Willett

Shooting

19

Mulwala, NSW

Stan Longinidis

Tayla Hanak

Surfing

18

Yankililla, SA

Layne Beachley AO

 

Lawn bowler Ellen Ryan (NSW) will have the experience of a lifetime as she is mentored by Sport Australia Hall of Fame inaugural female Inductee and official Legend of Australian sport – Dawn Fraser MBE.

One of only three swimmers to win the same Olympic event three times, Fraser won four gold and four silver medals across the 1956 Melbourne, 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“It’s very important that we do look after our future stars. It’s always a great pleasure to pass onto young athletes what I’ve experienced and it always helps,” Fraser said.

“I think the Sport Australia Hall of Fame is doing some marvellous things with our up and coming athletes, and I’m very happy and excited to have been asked to be a mentor.”

18-year-old Ryan has a recently acquired taste of gold and silver herself, securing a first place finish in mixed pair’s at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.

She also earned silver in the girl’s singles final, and is now hopeful of stepping up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“It’s going to be a great experience to even be a part of it – to get a chance to meet Dawn Fraser and get to work with her, learn from what she has experienced and what she has achieved in her sport,“ Ryan said.

“I’d like to get to know how she felt competing at that level and how she remained calm and composed. It’ll be really good, and hopefully she teaches me a couple of tricks.”

South Australia’s Tayla Hanak has long idolised seven-time surfing world champion Layne Beachley AO, and will now be guided through the next year by her childhood hero.

Beachley turned professional at the age of 16, and will be the perfect sounding board for 18-year-old Hanak.

“When I reflect on my career, I must admit, my strength and my point of difference was my mindset, and I’ve learned a lot from the mistakes that I’ve made and the victories that I’ve had,” Beachley said.

“I look forward to imparting that knowledge onto Tayla, to ensure that her journey to success, no matter that that looks like, is a lot more of a smoother ride than what I had.”

“I know she is a hard worker and a very committed athlete.”

The under 18 Australian surfing champion has just begun competing in the world qualifying series, as she chases her dream to follow in Beachley’s footsteps and make it onto the women’s championship tour.

“I’ve always looked up to her,” Hanak said.

“I’m at the start of the journey and she’s at the other end. I have so many things I need to overcome with my surfing to get where I need to be, and I think Layne is really going to be able to help me.“

19-year-old shooter James Willett (NSW) will be mentored by eight-time kickboxing world champion Stan Longinidis.

The Mulwala local has his eyes set firmly on the 2016 Rio Olympics, and has put in a stunning twelve months to be ranked 20th in the world in men’s double trap shooting.

Willett set a junior world record in March this year at his first ISSF world cup, shooting 142/150 targets through qualifying. In June, he further strengthened his case with a bronze medal in the men’s double trap at the ISSF Junior Cup in Suhl, Germany.

Willett came agonisingly close to a world championship bronze medal last week in Lonato, Italy, finishing fourth in the men’s double trap.

The Willett family are right behind their young star on the road to Rio, with his father building a purpose-built shooting range for James to practice on daily.

Olympic gold medallist volleyballer Natalie Cook OAM will spend the next twelve months mentoring Brisbane diver Georgia Sheehan.

In 2012, Cook became the first Australian female to compete at five Olympic Games.

Sheehan was originally an aspiring gymnast before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the feats of Melissa Wu drew her into the world of diving. Six years later, she joined Wu at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and narrowly missed out on bronze in the 1m springboard final as a 15-year-old.

She continues to show genuine promise at international level, and returned home to Australia with a silver medal in the 3m open competition at the FINA Grand Prix in Madrid this July.

Tasmanian triathlete Jacob Birtwhistle will be in the hands of athletic royalty for twelve months, with Australian heptathlete Glynis Nunn-Cearns OAM to mentor the 20-year-old.

Nunn-Cearns was the first heptathlon champion in Olympic history, claiming gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Birtwhistle has made an impressive start to his career, having just been crowned ITU Under 23 world triathlon champion in Chicago last weekend.

The Tasmanian picked up silver at the 2014 ITU world junior triathlon championships, and matched that feat with another second placing in March’s world cup event at Mooloolaba in Queensland.

He is hopeful of becoming a mainstay of Australian Olympic teams into the future – starting with Rio 2016.

Sport Australia Hall of Fame chairman John Bertrand AM said the five successful scholarship recipients have demonstrated they are quality young people within sport and life in general.

“The Sport Australia Hall of Fame recognises outstanding achievements on and off the field, and it is a privilege to play a vital role in nurturing the nation’s next wave of talent – both as athletes and people,” said Bertrand.

“We congratulate our five scholarship holders, wish them well in their future endeavours, and hope these talented young Australians will get immense benefit from the experience.”

It is the vision of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian sport, and to excite the next generation of Australians to achieve their full potential both in sport and life. The Scholarship and Mentoring Program is one such opportunity for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to further this endeavour.

Successful scholarship recipients will 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 Etihad Airways.

Since the introduction of the program in 2006, 58 young Australians have benefited from this once in a lifetime opportunity, with 17 former Scholarship holders representing Australia at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, and 12 selected for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Notable graduates of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program are Patrick Mills (basketball), Lauren Mitchell (gymnastics), Jessicah Schipper (swimming), Dani Samuels (athletics), Caroline Buchanan (BMX), Dylan Alcott (wheelchair basketball/tennis), Jack Bobridge (cycling) to name a few.

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.

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