Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame

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

Young Frank with basketball - 72 dpi

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

 

78_ACPS_Atlanta_1996_Track_Louise_Savage

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

 

Studio portrait of Sir George Bedbrook, inaugural Associate cetegory inductee into the Australian Paralympic Hall of Fame August 2011

“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

Administrator – Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith taken at "Dunbible" near Stuart's Point, NSW, at the time of her interview for the National Library of Australia Paralympic oral history project on 16 May 2011

As the founding Chief Executive of the Australian Paralympic Federation (APF, now APC), Adrienne Smith guided the organisation through its tumultuous early years to transform Australia’s sporting landscape.

Following a stint with the Australian Disabled Skiers Federation, where she worked alongside 2016 APC Hall of Fame inductee Ron Finneran, Adrienne was appointed the national coordinator for sport and recreation by the Australian Bicentennial Authority, securing around $500,000 in funding for disability sport programs.

One of the driving forces behind the APF’s establishment, Adrienne often worked pro bono, and in 1992 she personally underwrote the cost of sending the Australian Paralympic Team to the Tignes-Albertville Games, where Michael Milton won Australia’s first ever Winter Games gold medal. Together with APF President Ron, she also spearheaded the campaign for the Paralympic Games to be included in the bid for Sydney 2000.

Adrienne’s achievements in Para-sports administration have been recognised by:

o    1988 Australian Sports Administrator of the Year

o    Invitation to participate in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Torch Relay

o    Australian Sports Medal (2000)

o    Australian Paralympic Medal (2004)

o    Medal of the Order of Australia (2008)

o    Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

Achieving all of this at a time when women’s workplace rights were still embryonic, Adrienne’s accomplishments are immense. Central to the growth of the Paralympic movement in Australia and the world, she was a pioneer for women in the field of sports administration.

Please find more information about Adrienne Smith at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrienne_Smith 

Female athlete – Daphne Hilton 

A pioneer of Paralympic and women’s sport in Australia and around the world, Daphne Hilton first began competing in sport as a form of rehabilitation, having become a paraplegic in a horse riding accident at 17.

After participating in local, state and national competitions for around a year as part of Mount Wilga Hospital’s rehabilitation program, she made her international debut at the inaugural 1960 Paralympic Games in Rome, winnDCeeney1962 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games_Daphne Ceeney and parents after Romeing six of Australia’s 10 medals.

As Australia’s most successful athlete at these Games, Daphne went on to set a record unlikely ever to be broken in Paralympic or Olympic sport, winning 14 medals across five sports including two in archery, five in athletics and swimming, and one in table tennis and wheelchair fencing.

Among the highlights of Daphne’s distinguished sporting career are:

  • Three consecutive Paralympic appearances, beginning at the inaugural Rome 1960 Games as Australia’s only female representative. She won three gold, five silver and six bronze medals across five sports, a record unlikely to ever be broken in Paralympic or Olympic sport.
  • Two consecutive Commonwealth Paraplegic Games appearances, the maiden Perth 1962 Games and Kingston 1966. She won 24 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games medals, including 18 gold across four sports – archery, athletics, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
  • One silver and one bronze medal in lawn bowls at the 2002 IWAS World Wheelchair Games

Recognition of Daphne’s pioneering achievements has included:

  • Invitation to open the Athletes’ Village at the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney and participate in the Torch Relay
  • New South Wales Hall of Champions (2014)
  • Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

Having raised the profile of women in sport at a time when sport, especially sport for people with a disability, was entirely male-dominant, Daphne can rightfully be considered among the most influential athletes of all time.

Please find more information about Daphne Hilton at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Ceeney

Male athlete – David Hall

David Hall - RPOne of the world’s most decorated wheelchair tennis players, David Hall was a local star on the junior tennis circuit when he was involved in a road accident at 16 resulting in the amputation of both his legs.

Entering his first wheelchair tennis event in 1988, he soon found his rhythm in his new sport and began dominating his rivals on the world stage.

In a career spanning 20 years, David forged an extraordinary 632-111 singles record, and in doing so helped to establish an appreciation of and demand for wheelchair tennis in Australia’s diverse sporting landscape.

Some of the highlights of David’s illustrious sporting career include:

o    Four consecutive Paralympic appearances, from Barcelona 1992 to Athens 2004. He won one gold, three silver and two bronze medals, including Australia’s first ever gold in the men’s singles tournament

o    Seventeen grand slam singles titles

o    Nineteen Super Series crowns, the most of any player to date. He was also the first non-American to win the US Open Super Series.

o    Four World Team Cup titles (1994, 1996, 2000 and 2002)

o    Two NEC Singles Masters titles (2002 and 2004)

o    Six-time ITF World Wheelchair Tennis Champion (1995, 1998, 2000 and 2002-2004)

Recognition of David’s achievements has included:

o    Invitation to complete the first leg of the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Torch Relay

o    2000 International Male Wheelchair Athlete of the Year

o    Medal of the Order of Australia (2001)

o    New South Wales Hall of Champions (2009)

o    Sport Australia Hall of Fame (2010)

o    Tennis Australia Hall of Fame (2015)

o    International Tennis Hall of Fame (2015)

o    Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

With few to rival him in Australia and the world, David is undoubtedly one of the most pre-eminent sportsmen of his generation.

Please find more information about David Hall at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hall

Male athlete – Kevin Coombs

1960 opening ceremony Aussies photoshopped - Kevin CoombsThe first Indigenous athlete to represent Australia at a Paralympic or Olympic Games, Kevin Coombs is one of the most notable wheelchair basketballers in Australian sporting history.

Despite never winning a Paralympic medal, Kevin’s efforts both on and off the court to raise the profile of athletes with disabilities as genuine, competitive sportsmen and women have helped to push Para-sport towards the forefront of Australia’s social and economic agenda.

Some of the highlights of Kevin’s distinguished sporting career include:

o    Five Paralympic appearances between 1960 and 1984, including the inaugural Rome 1960 Paralympic Games as Australia’s only Indigenous representative. He was selected to captain the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team at Heidelberg 1972 and Stoke Mandeville 1984, and at Arnhem 1980 he captained the Australian Paralympic Team.

o    One Commonwealth Paraplegic Games appearance, the Dunedin 1974 Games. He won a silver medal as captain of the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team.

o    One FESPIC Games title (Sha Tin 1982)

Kevin’s achievements have been recognised by:

o    Medal of the Order of Australia (1983)

o    Sir Ludwig Guttmann Award (1988)

o    Australian Sports Medal (2000)

o    Kevin Coombs Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park (2000)

o    Invitation to carry the Paralympic torch into Stadium Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games

o    Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games ambassadorship

o    Basketball Australia Hall of Fame (2007)

o    Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll (2012)

o    Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

o    Uncle Kevin Coombs Medal for the Spirit of the Games (2016)

On top of this, Kevin has also worked hard to reinvigorate Indigenous communities in Victoria with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged by a meeting room being named in his honour in 2011.

For more information about Uncle Kevin Coombs, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Coombs

Administrator – Ron Finneran

Ron Finneran - APAs 2016 - 8 December 2016 (2)Still competing in local and national leagues through most of the 1990s, you’d be hard-pressed finding someone to match both Kevin’s longevity and passion for Para-sport.

Australia’s only representative at the inaugural Örnsköldsvik 1976 Winter Paralympic Games, Para-sports administrator Ron Finneran co-founded the Australian Disabled Skiers Federation with ski instructors Nick Dean and Bruce Abel. As its executive director for 31 years, he helped to transform Para-skiing facilities, training programs, talent development and government support in Australia.

With experience as Chef de Mission of the Australian Paralympic Team at five consecutive Winter Paralympic Games, Ron was a part of the working group that established the Australian Paralympic Federation in 1990. As President in 1993, he was Chairman of the Bid Committee for the Sydney 2000 Games, working to bring the world’s best Para-athletes to Australia’s door.

Ron was also a Member of the Advisory Committee to the Australian Bicentennial Authority’s National Disabled Sports Program from 1984 to 1988, Chairman of the New South Wales Advisory Committee for Athletes with a Disability from 1987 and 1992, and played a hand in the development of the Australian Institute of Sport’s Paralympic Alpine Skiing Program in 2001.

His pioneering achievements in Para-sports administration have been recognised by:

  • Finsko’s Lodge, Australian Disabled Skiing Federation (1992)
  • Australian Sports Medal (2000)
  • Australian Paralympic Medal (2002)
  • Medal of the Order of Australia (2004)
  • Sport Australia Hall of Fame (2005)
  • Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

In a career spanning over 30 years, Ron’s commitment to raising the profile of people with disabilities through winter sport and recreation has been significant to the evolution of the Paralympic movement both in Australia and around the world.

Please find more information about Ron Finneran at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Finneran

Female athlete – Tracey Freeman

Jim Wilson & Tracey Freeman - APAs 2016 - 8 December 2016 (4)The most dominant Australian athlete at the Heidelberg 1972 Paralympic Games, Tracey Freeman first began competing in sport as a client at Mount Wilga Hospital’s rehabilitation facility in Hornsby.

Few could have predicted Tracey’s success in Heidelberg, where she broke three world records and won three gold and two silver medals, setting a new standard for Paralympic performance in Australia. Matching these results in Toronto four years later, Tracey helped to create a space for Paralympic legends Louise Sauvage, Amy Winters and Lisa McIntosh to emerge and develop as track stars.

Among the highlights of Tracey’s distinguished sporting career are:

  • Two consecutive Paralympic appearances, Heidelberg 1972 and Toronto 1976. She broke six world records and won six gold and four silver medals, becoming Australia’s first female competitor to win multiple gold in athletics at a single Games.
  • One Commonwealth Paraplegic Games appearance (Dunedin 1974)
  • One FESPIC Games appearance, the inaugural Oita 1975 Games. She won two silver and two bronze medals.

Ways in which Tracey’s achievements have been recognised include:

  • The Courier-Mail’s 1976 Sportswoman of the Year, the first athlete with a disability to be awarded this honour
  • Australian Sports Medal (2000)
  • Australian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame (2016)

Still one of Australia’s leading Paralympic medallists, Tracey’s historic performances rank her among the greatest Para-athletes of all time.

Please find more information about Tracey Freeman at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Freeman