The Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame was established in 2011 by the Australian Paralympic Committee to:
– Recognise individuals who have, over time, made a significant contribution to Australia’s Paralympic success;
– Enhance the profile and understanding of Paralympic sport and Paralympic athletes within the Australian community; and
– Promote the role of the Paralympic movement within the development of Australian sport and society.
Male Athlete – Frank Ponta
Francis (Frank) Ponta was one of Australia’s most talented and versatile Paralympic athletes – recognised as one of Australia’s greatest wheelchair basketball players and successful in a number of sports.
When a tumour on his spine caused paraplegia, in 1954 Frank was one of the first people admitted to Australia’s first spinal care unit, at Shenton Park in Perth, under the care of Dr George Bedbrook. Having been a talented sportsman at school, he relished the emphasis on sport and physical fitness at Shenton Park.
Frank was chosen in Australia’s first disabled sports team, to the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1957, where he competed in the team sabre with Bill Mather-Brown and individual sabre, shot put, javelin, and was captain/coach of the basketball team. He won gold in the team sabre, and silver in the shot put, javelin, and individual sabre.
In 1960 he was a member of Australia’s first Paralympic Team, competing at the Rome Paralympic Games in athletics, basketball, fencing and swimming. He won a silver medal in precision javelin.
Frank was selected in the Australian team to the 1964 Tokyo Paralympic Games where he won a gold medal in swimming and a silver medal in fencing, as well as playing basketball.
At the 1968 Games Frank completed his set of Paralympic medals with a bronze in swimming. He also played basketball and competed in athletics. Frank competed in basketball and athletics at the 1972 and 1976 Paralympic Games to round out his Paralympic career.
Between 1957 and 1976 Frank was a member of ten Australian teams to the Stoke Mandeville (1), Paralympic (5), Commonwealth Paraplegic (3) and FESPIC (1) Games.
At a National level, he competed in 19 National Wheelchair Games and basketball competitions from 1960 to 1992 as a competitor in fencing, athletics, and swimming, and as a player/coach of basketball teams.
Frank was also a devoted and successful volunteer coach and mentor of junior athletes in Western Australia, a role he played for almost 50 years. He produced athletes who became Paralympic champions – Louise Sauvage, Bruce Wallrodt, Priya Cooper, Justin Eveson and Madison de Rozario – and assisted countless others to enjoy sport. He was the driving force behind the junior wheelchair sports movement in Western Australia. In 2001 he coached the Perth Wheelcats in the newly-formed National Wheelchair Basketball League.
As an administrator, he was involved in establishing the South Australian Wheelchair Sports Association and was deeply involved as a Board member of the Wheelchair Sports WA Association, even after he suffered a stroke in 2009.
Frank’s contribution to the Paralympic movement in Australia as an athlete, coach and administrator is unsurpassed.
Please find more information about Francis (Frank) Ponta at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Ponta
Female Athlete – Louise Sauvage
Louise Sauvage was just 16 when she participated at her first IPC Athletics World Championships, where she won gold in the 100m in world record time. A star had arrived on the international sports stage.
She went on to change the sport of wheelchair racing by becoming one of its first truly professional athletes and, in the process, dominated it for a decade and raised the profile and perception of Paralympic sport and Paralympic athletes in Australia and around the world.
Highlights of Louise’s sporting performances include:
• Nine gold, and four silver medals from four Paralympic Games, from Barcelona (1992) to Athens (2004), including four gold medals and two world records in Atlanta in 1996. She won Paralympic gold medals in every distance from 100m to 5000m.
• Two gold and one bronze medal from three appearances in 800m demonstration races at the Olympic Games, including gold in Sydney in 2000.
• Twelve gold and two silver medals from four IPC World Athletics Championships, including six gold medals at the 1998 Championships.
• Five gold medals from five appearances in 800m demonstration races at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.
• Numerous victories in the world’s most prestigious road races – four Boston Marathon crowns, wins in the Honolulu (3), Los Angeles, Oita, Sempach and Berlin (2) marathons, the Riverside Rumble 10K International Classic, the Peachtree 10K and ten wins in the OZ Day 10K.
Recognition of Louise’s achievements has included:
• Order of Australia Medal (OAM) 1993
• Australian Paralympic Committee Paralympian of the Year 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998
• First Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability 2000
• Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee 2007
Louise was selected to light the Paralympic cauldron for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and to carry the flag for the Australian Team in the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. She has a Sydney ferry, a street and a pathway named after her, as well as numerous school sport houses around Australia.
The achievements of Louise Sauvage have been equalled by few in the history of sport
Please find more information about Louise Sauvage at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Sauvage
Associate – Sir George Bedbrook
“Competitive and team sports provide a physical and psychological stimulus far more profitable than routine remedial exercises. Not only do these activities develop and strengthen the body musculature and promote spontaneous coordinated movements, but also of equal importance they recreate the sense of comradeship and normal human association and help to eliminate any self-consciousness suffered by patients in relation to their disabilities.”
The Paralympic movement in Australia owes its origins to George Bedbrook.
After graduating in medicine, Dr Bedbrook trained further in orthopaedics in England, where he spent some time at Stoke Mandeville under the tutelage of Dr Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Paralympic movement.
In 1954 he established Australia’s first spinal unit, at Shenton Park, as part of the Royal Perth Hospital. There he revolutionised the treatment of spinal injuries by insisting on sterile environments to combat infection, mobility to reduce the effects of pressure sores and an extensive program of sport and exercise.
Dr Bedbrook established the hospital sports days that gave the active rehabilitation a sporting focus and resulted in him leading Australia’s first ever international disability sport team to the Stoke Mandeville Games, in England in 1957.
He facilitated the attendance of the Australian Team at the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960, led the Australian Team to the second Paralympics, in 1964, and played a central role in the establishment of international Games for people with a disability.
Dr Bedbrook’s dedication to his athletes was legendary. He did not hesitate to contact political leaders, at state and federal level, even internationally, if he had identified a problem that could be solved by going to the person ultimately in charge.
He supported the principle of holding the Paralympic Games in the city which hosted the Olympic Games. He was responsible for the formation of the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games along the same lines and was awarded the OBE for his contribution to the success of the first Games, in Perth in 1962.
When the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games faltered internationally, Dr Bedbrook joined Japanese colleagues to establish the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (FESPIC), for Pacific Rim countries. The quadrennial FESPIC Games began in Japan in 1975 and ran until 2006.
He was a founding member of the International Co-ordination Committee of World Sports Organizations for the Disabled (ICC), which became the International Paralympic Committee in 1989.
In 1978, he became Sir George Bedbrook after being awarded a Knight Bachelor for his services to medicine.
While George Bedbrook received many accolades for his medical work, his role in developing Paralympic sport has opened the doors to generations of exceptional athletes and positively affected the wider Australian community.
Please find more information about Sir George Bedbrook at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bedbrook