Past, present and future Australian athletics stars were celebrated among the best of the nation’s sporting greats at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner in Melbourne on Thursday night.
Multiple Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist Raelene Boyle AM MBE was recognised as the 39th Legend of Australian sport, Steve Hooker OAM was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, Sally Pearson OAM was honoured as one of seven finalists nominated for ‘The Don’ award, and Riley Day was celebrated as a recipient of the 2018 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.
Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher was in awe of the athletes and the manner in which they were honoured.
“It was fantastic to see these incredible role models being celebrated in the wider sporting community,” Gocher said.
“I join with the rest of Australia in congratulating Raelene, Steve, Sally and Riley.”
“Our sport is in great shape as we look toward a home Commonwealth Games next year.”
Raelene Boyle AM MBE (Vic) has long been a role model for athletics, sport and the broader community and was elevated to ‘Legend’ status within the Hall of Fame, an honour reserved for who have distinguished themselves at the highest level and in doing so have offered inspiration to Australia.
With seven Commonwealth Games golds and three Olympic Silvers, Boyle becomes the eighth Australian track and field athlete to be elevated to legend status to join the likes of Betty Cuthbert AM MBE (1994), Shirley Strickland (AO MBE (1995), Marjorie Jackson Nelson AC CVO MBE (1995), Herb Elliott AC MBE (1997), John Landy AC MBE (2005) Edwin Flack (2009) and Catherine Freeman OAM (2011).
“I’m very proud of being called a legend with this particular club because it’s all sport in Australia,” Boyle said.
“We are not talking about football or cricket or golf, we’re talking about all sports.”
Read more: Raelene Boyle proud to be an Australian Legend
Steve Hooker OAM (Vic) once simultaneously held the pole vault Olympic, indoor and outdoor world championships, Commonwealth Games and world cup titles. Deservedly so, he was last night inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
The son of Australian athletics representatives Bill and Erica, Hooker’s career was highlighted by his gold-medal winning jump at the Beijing Olympics after winning the Commonwealth Games title in Melbourne in front of a home crowd in 2006.
Read more: Steve Hooker’s golden record vaults him into Hall of Fame
Two-time world hurdles champion Sally Pearson OAM (Qld) was honoured as one of seven finalists nominated for ‘The Don’ Award after her remarkable victory in the world 100m hurdles title at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London in August.
Competing in her first major championship since 2015 after missing the defence of her Olympic title in Rio through injury, the 30-year-old coached herself and produced a spectacular display of hurdling to claim her second world title last August. Sally has twice won ‘The Don’ in 2013 and 2015.
“The Don Award is the pinnacle of Australian sports awards,” Pearson said.
“To be named as one of the finalists is a huge honour. That being said, the night is also very special because all the superstars of Australian sports across many decades are gathered under one roof and I look up to them all.”
Read more: Pearson nominated for 'The Don'
Teenage Beaudesert high school student Riley Day (Qld) was recognised as one of the country’s brightest young star in athletics. Day will be part of the 2018 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program that will provide support and funding for five of Australia’s promising young sports stars.
Day will be mentored by Debbie Watson OAM who is considered Australia’s best ever female water polo player and won gold at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
“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.
At such a young age Day’s personal bests of 11.59 sec over 100m and 23.26 for her favoured 200m are world-class, which was highlighted with a silver and gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas in July.
She competed at the IAAF world championships in London running in the heats of the 200m in the lane next to the reigning champion Dafne Schippers (NED) who went on to defend her title. Earlier in the year, the star from Nitro Athletics took on Usain Bolt in the mixed relay at the Melbourne event.
“My goals over the next twelve months are to compete at the Commonwealth Games and the under 20 world championships,” Day said.
Read more: Riley Day teams up with water polo great Debbie Watson
Established in 1985, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame aims to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian Sport and excite the next generation of Australians to achieve their potential both in sport and in life. The aim is to preserve Australia's rich sporting heritage by honouring these great athletes, and use the values and experience of Members to inspire future stars of Australian sport.