Last Friday night I attended the KPMG Celebration of Sport at the Entertainment Centre, a gala event to recognise South Australia’s sporting high achievers. The night would not have been possible without the fantastic work done by Sport SA, as well as support from those in the corporate media worlds—KPMG, Channel 7 and The Advertiser in particular. It was fantastic to see 500 people in attendance at this year’s event.
Some of those included His Excellency the Governor and Mrs Scarce, the honourable Leader of the Opposition from the other place, Isobel Redmond, the Hon. Tom Kenyon, the Hon. Michael Wright, Mr Rob Gerard and Mrs Fay Gerard, and councillor Vincent Tarzia from the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peter’s (the recently preselected Liberal candidate for Hartley).
I want to mention some of the award winners, and will start with the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame inductees for 2012. There was former Australian women’s basketballer Rachel Sporn, who had a magnificent career with the national team and with Adelaide Lightning, winning three Olympic medals, and there was former Australian soccer player Alex Tobin OAM, who holds a record number of international caps for Australia. He played 16 out of his 19 years in the National Soccer League at Adelaide City—a true legend. There was Neil Fuller OAM, a six time Paralympic gold medallist in sprinting, and quite an inspiration.
There was the great man Russell Ebert OAM from the Port Adelaide Magpies. As you know, Mr President, I am not a Port Adelaide Magpies fan, but I am certainly a fan of the great man Russell Ebert, and I would like to acknowledge the work he does with charity outside of football as well. There was also Charlie Walsh OAM, for his services in the coaching field, mainly with cycling. He was also a fitness coach with the Adelaide Crows for seven years under Neil Craig, but Charlie was certainly a legend in the cycling fraternity and turned that sport on its ear.
The Team of the Year was the South Australian Teams Pursuit team for cycling. Junior Sports Star of the Year was tennis player Luke Saville, who seems to be going from strength to strength. Elite Athlete of the Year with a Disability was the great man Matthew Cowdrey OAM, whose herculean efforts in the pool over the last three Paralympic Games are unrivalled. His haul includes 13 gold medals, and he has shown us all that having a disability is never a barrier to any great achievement. He is quite a popular man too, by all reports, as he also received the People’s Choice Award.
The Sports Star of the Year was Anna Meares OAM of Olympic cycling fame. Ms Meares is a two-time Olympic medallist and currently the fastest female cyclist in the world, winning the sprint in London. I really enjoyed her interview, in particular, and can see what an incredibly determined person she is. It certainly makes me understand why she is a true champion. Finally, the event of the year was the 2012 World Tennis Challenge held in January. This is a great event, and I understand that next year’s event will attract the likes of Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis, amongst others, and should be another great event.
I really enjoyed the special presentation made by Rob Gerard, and certainly his hard work and efforts over the last number of years, particularly with getting this award up and running, should be noted. He paid particular tribute to Margaret Ralston, who received this special award, and it was Marg Ralston who is acknowledged as having done so much for women’s sport in this state.
She is an incredibly effervescent character and certainly never takes a backward step, but does it with great humour, and she is incredibly persistent. For Rob Gerard to acknowledge that in the initial stages he was bullied by Margaret into getting involved was really quite a funny story and all done with good humour—but what an incredibly awesome pair they have become in regard to this particular award.
In conclusion, the KPMG Celebration of Sport is an event I look forward to attending every year, and I commend the efforts of all those who were involved in putting it together, in particular the board of Sport SA, its hardworking and very popular president, Mr John Dicker AM, and the very efficient and professional CEO, Miss Jan Sutherland.