In a year where Australian sport has captivated sports fans like few others before it, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame has unveiled 12 outstanding nominations for ‘The Don’ Award for 2015.
Marking one month to go until the 31st Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner, the field for the prestigious award is a who’s who of Australian sporting champions, whose achievements over the past twelve months have inspired the nation.
In 2015, Anna Meares won her eleventh career world title, to be named the most successful female track cyclist in history. Swimmer Emily Seebohm bounced back from a disappointing Olympic campaign at London 2012 to claim an historic world championship double in the 100m and 200m backstroke, whilst in late 2014, Paralympian Kurt Fearnley pushed his way to a fifth New York Marathon win in dramatic style.
In addition, a number of athletes have captured the hearts and minds of the Australian public for their actions, unique success and humility. Rugby league superstar Jarryd Hayne captivated the nation and the world with his switch to American football, in a story that only continues to evolve. Jason Day garnered an immense wave of praise for his maiden major win at the PGA Championship, having battled bouts of vertigo throughout the year.
Surfing star Sally Fitzgibbons showed she is cut from strong cloth as she not only competed with a perforated eardrum, but went on to win her second Fiji Pro surf tournament. And in a true display of mateship, surfers Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson demonstrated unimaginable bravery live on television when confronted with a chilling shark attack – both men’s actions showing to the world the true meaning of Australian sportsmanship.
Ironman Shannon Eckstein secured the title of Australia’s greatest ever ironman with a seventh Australian championship, having already claimed his fifth world ironman title in 2014, whilst Mirinda Carfrae confirmed her status as one of the all-time greats, as only the fourth woman to win the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman three or more times.
It’s been a year of team triumph at home for our sporting teams, as Australia conquered all before it at international level in major tournaments. The Socceroos enjoyed a stunning victory in the AFC Asian Cup to be crowned champions of Asia, as the Australian one day cricket team proved themselves the best in the world through a memorable ICC Cricket World Cup win that was inspired by the late Phillip Hughes. Not to be outdone, the Diamonds staked their own claim as world champions with a dominant INF Netball World Cup triumph.
All 12 nominees encapsulate the Sport Australia Hall of Fame values of courage, sportsmanship, integrity, mateship, persistence, excellence – underpinned by generosity, modesty, pride and ambition.
These values stem from the inspirational words of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s first Inductee and Legend, Sir Donald Bradman AC. The award bearing his name is regarded as the highest individual honour that can be bestowed on a current Australian athlete, and is awarded to a sportsperson who, through their achievements and example over the last 12 months, is considered to have most inspired the nation.
The 12 nominations will be shortlisted to four finalists prior to the announcement of the winner.
‘The Don’ Award for 2015 will be presented at the 31st Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner – presented by Etihad Airways – on Wednesday, 21st October 2015 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame chairman John Bertrand AM said the quality of this year’s nominations is a testament to the nation.
“Australia is renowned the world over for its rich sporting history and current day talent,” said Bertrand.
“As an Australian, I am exceptionally proud of the contributions made by these twelve athletes and teams, and feel privileged as chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to be able to recognise their achievements in such an esteemed fashion.”
‘THE DON’ AWARD – 2015 NOMINEES
Anna Meares – Cycling
Anna’s eleventh world title this year earned her the crown of the most successful female track cyclist in history.
Australian One Day Cricket Team – Cricket
Australia’s world cup preparation could have easily been derailed following the tragic death of opener Phillip Hughes in December 2014. However, the team rallied and went on to an emphatic victory, inspired by their “little mate”.
Australian Socceroos – Football
In one of the biggest moments in sport the Socceroos pulled off a stunning victory to win the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Australian Women’s Diamonds Netball Team – Netball
The Diamonds were crowned world champions on home soil, emulating the 1991 Australian team’s win. This latest success was widely acclaimed as exciting and memorable.
Emily Seebohm – Swimming
Seebohm shifted her mental approach following her disappointing Olympic performances at London 2012. It resulted in an historic 100m, 200m backstroke double at the 2015 world championships.
Jarryd Hayne – NFL
Former two-time Dally M medallist and rugby league superstar made an incredible switch from the Australian game to America’s NFL. His dream became a reality when named in the starting 53-player roster for the San Francisco’s 49ers. It’s a transition has stunned world sport and captured the hearts and minds of Australians.
Jason Day – Golf
Battling the effects of vertigo for much of the 2015 season, Day was crowned 2015 PGA Champion with a record breaking 20-under-par, in his maiden major win.
Kurt Fearnley – Wheelchair Marathon
Took out his fifth New York City Marathon with a dramatic finish in arguably the toughest race in the event’s history.
Mick Fanning & Julian Wilson – Surfing
Current world number two and triple world champion Mick Fanning’s close call with a shark during competition, and his attempted rescue by fellow Australian competitor Julian Wilson, both epitomise the spirit of Australian sport, and the values of ‘mateship’ and courage’.
Mirinda Carfrae – Triathlon (Ironman)
Confirmed her status as one of the all-time greats of the Hawaiian Ironman and only the fourth women to win the gruelling event three or more times.
Sally Fitzgibbons – Surfing
Managed the incredible achievement of not only competing with a perforated eardrum, but went on to win her second Fiji Pro surf tournament.
Shannon Eckstein – Surf Life Saving (Ironman)
Now Australia’s greatest ever ironman after winning his seventh national title in 2015, eclipsing Trevor Hendy’s longstanding record. Added a fifth world ironman title in 2014.
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.