November 26 - December 2, 2023: Issue 607


NSW Champions of Sport Awards 2023 recognises three local heroes 

Photo: L to R Mathew Helm, Layne Beachley, Heather Garriock and John Forbes. Image: Sport NSW
Three residents of our area, Layne Beachley, John Forbes and Jemma Cook, were recognised at the 2023 NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony at International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, on Monday, November 20.

The Ceremony saw seven-time world surfing champion, Layne Beachley, AO, become the 24th NSW athlete and the first surfer to be elevated to NSW Legend Status.

Layne is the 10th female athlete to be elevated to NSW Legend Status joining the likes of Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, Shane Gould, Louise Sauvage, Anne Sargeant, Heather McKay, Margaret Court, Betty Cuthbert, and Dawn Fraser.

Beachley is the first woman to win seven World Championships and in 2018 Layne won an eighth world title becoming the first female winner of the WSL World Masters Championship.

The Awards ceremony also saw John Forbes (Sailing), Heather Garriock (Football), Mathew Helm (Diving), Brett Lee (Cricket) and David Palmer, OAM (Squash) inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions. 

Collaroy resident and Netball umpire, Jemma Cook, was named Official of the Year after being appointed to the Netball World Cup and the 2023 Super Netball Grand-Final.

Layne has been inducted into the US and Australian Surfing Halls of Fame and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. She was five times Australian Surfing Life Magazine’s Surfer of the Year, three times NSW Sportsperson of the Year and won the coveted ESPN Surfer of the Year in 2001. She was 2003 Australian Female Athlete of the Year.

Besides her prowess in the surf, Beachley spent decades breaking down surfing barriers advocating for equality in and out of the water and funded the dreams of over 500 young girls and women to achieve their potential through her Aim for the Stars Foundation.

A champion for mental wellness, passionate environmental campaigner, Chair of Surfing Australia, plus 15 years on the Association of Surfing Professionals Board, and with half of all enrolments at Learn-to-Surf being women, Beachley has had an enduring impact on the sport.

Layne with her award. Photo: Sport NSW

John Forbes made history when he became the first Tornado catamaran sailor ever to win three World Championships. He went on to better that by completing his career with a total of seven catamaran World Championship wins.

Four-time Australian Sailor of the Year, and a veteran of three Olympic Games, Forbes won a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games with Mitch Booth. In 2000, they won silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

John won four European Championships, and 10 Australian Championships.

He still sails with daughter Bronte as a member of the Palm Beach Sailing Club, winning 1st place in their division at this year's PBSC's Beware the Bullets Regatta.

NSW Hall of Champions Committee Chair, Alan Whelpton AO, said the accomplishments of the five inductees during their distinguished careers earned them worthy selection.

“The five inductees John Forbes, Heather Garriock, Mathew Helm, Brett Lee, and David Palmer are recognised for their outstanding sports careers which saw them reach the pinnacle of their chosen sport. They represented their country, state, sport, and themselves with distinction and inspired a new generation of athletes to follow in their footsteps.”

Sport NSW Chief Executive, Stuart Hodge, paid tribute to the five new inductees.

“We welcome John, Heather, Mathew, Brett and David into the Hall of Champions. They join other NSW sports greats who have served NSW and Australian sport with honour and distinction,” added Hodge.

John with his award. Photo: Sport NSW

In 2023, Jemma Cook officiated at both Suncorp Super Netball level and the Netball World Cup. Suncorp Super Netball is the most prestigious and successful professional club netball competition in the world. The competition has 14 home and away rounds and 3 weeks of finals. It comprises the best national and international netball athletes and officials. 

The Netball World Cup is held every 4 years. Sixteen nations battle it out across 10 days, in the hope they will be crowned champions in netball’s most prestigious international event.

In 2023, the World Cup was held in South Africa. Jemma was one of 17 umpires selected from throughout the world to officiate this tournament. Jemma Cook was re-endorsed as an International Umpire Awardee in January 2023.

In 2023, Jemma was a member of the Netball Australia High Performance Umpire group who are allocated to the Suncorp Super Netball Competition and travel to matches across Australia on a weekly basis. 

Throughout the season Jemma displayed incredible performances which saw her appointed by Netball Australia to the final series, including the honour of officiating the 2023 Grand Final in Melbourne for the second year running. 

Jemma also received international honours being appointed to the Netball World Cup and also officiated an International Series between England v Jamaica. Jemma was the winner of the Netball Australia Lorna McConchie Umpire of the Year in early 2023, for her contribution to umpiring across the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season.

Jemma with her award. Photo: Sport NSW

Lauren Jackson AO OLY, Australia’s greatest ever women’s Basketball player, was presented with the prestigious The Waratah award at the 2023 rebel NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony.

First presented in 2017, The Waratah acknowledges a career of extraordinary success and a commitment to sport that has extended beyond competition. Recipients are considered a role model, a highly respected member of the NSW sporting community, and a recognised ambassador for sport by the wider public.

Rugby League great Laurie Daley was the inaugural recipient in 2017. Netball legend Liz Ellis and champion cricketer Glenn McGrath were recipients of The Waratah in 2018 and 2019, and Netball’s remarkable Marcia Ella-Duncan received the honour in 2023.

A four-time Olympian and Australia’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Lauren enjoyed a stellar international playing career between 1997-2016 before making a triumphant international comeback in 2022 to help the Australian Opals capture the bronze medal when they defeated Canada in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Third Place Game.

Lauren debuted for the Opals when she was just 16 and was Opals captain from 2008 to 2013. She won three consecutive Olympic silver medals between 2000 and 2008 and bronze in 2012. At World Championships, she won three bronze medals and, in 2006, a gold medal, the same year she collected gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Lauren’s legendary status extended beyond Australia with incredible performances in the WNBA, Europe, and Asia. Lauren played 12 seasons and 338 games in the WNBA, winning the league MVP in her third season when she led the competition for scoring. She is the only player to have their jersey retired by the Seattle Storm.

In her role as Head of Women at Basketball Australia, Lauren supports women and girls to play, coach, referee and administer the game, including through the She Hoops program which strives to empower women in Basketball through visible pathways, mentoring, connection, insights, participation, and education.

Sports NSW Chief Executive, Stuart Hodge, said Lauren was a leader and an outstanding role model for the NSW sports family.

“Lauren is Australia’s and NSW’s most decorated basketball player. Her overall contribution to Basketball and her role model for women in sport is immeasurable.  We honour and salute her with The Waratah,” said Mr Hodge.

The Waratah is only awarded in years when it is considered there is an outstanding candidate.

Lauren with her award. Photo: Sport NSW

Tokyo Olympic Games canoe slalom gold medallist, Jessica Fox OAM, and double world champion para-athlete Lauren Parker reconfirmed their standing as among NSW’s greatest ever athletes when capturing the blue ribbon Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Year with a Disability awards at the rebel NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony at the International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.

It was a special night for the Fox family with Jessica’s mother and coach, Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi, voted Coach of The Year for the first time.

It was the fifth time Jessica was named Sport NSW’s Athlete of the Year having previously won the coveted title in 2013, 2017 and 2018 and was a joint winner with swimmer Cate Campbell in 2021.

Jessica was the K1 Slalom World Champion for the fourth time when winning the event at the 2023 ICF World Championships – her 10th career individual gold medal in canoe slalom. She also teamed with sister Noemie and Kate Eckhardt to capture Australia’s first ever World Championship gold medal in the women’s Kayak Team event.

With one gold, one silver and two bronze medals from her three Olympic Games, 10 individual Canoe World Championship titles, another four team World Championship gold and 11 overall World Cup titles, Jessica is the world’s most decorated canoe slalom athlete of all time.

Guiding these successes was Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi, a two-time Olympian and a Games bronze medallist for her native France. A highly successful coach for over 25 years, Myriam was also honoured by the International Olympic Committee last December when winning the IOC’s Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lauren Parker joins wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley as a four-time winner of Athlete of the Year with a Disability – just one title behind five-time Award winner, wheelchair tennis great, David Hall.

Lauren showed her dominance in both the longer and short forms of para-triathlon completing an undefeated international season culminating in World Championship success in both World Triathlon and Ironman triathlon events.

Lauren then continued to build on her remarkable career becoming a world champion in a second sport, para-cycling, when winning hand-cycling gold in the H3 individual time trial at the UCI World Championships in August.

Swimmer Tony Goodwin collected his second Masters Athlete of the Year Award, having previously captured the title in 2017, after a spectacular year which saw him claim seven world records, nine Australian records and eight state records.

The Penrith Panthers Rugby League team also snared back-to-back Team of the Year titles after defeating the Brisbane Broncos 26-24 in an epic NRL Grand-final.

Sydney Swans AFL midfielder Errol Gulden capped off a stellar 2023 season when named Young Athlete of the Year after being recognised as an All-Australian player for the first time and finishing fourth in the Brownlow Medal, polling 27 votes including six Best on Ground performances.

Vision impaired tennis player and Cremorne resident Arato Katsuda-Green, aged 12, was named Young Athlete of the Year with a Disability after climbing to be the number one ranked B4 category Men’s Blind and Low Vision singles player in Australia and capturing silver (doubles) and bronze (singles) medals in the adults division at the International Blind Sports Federation World Games in Birmingham last August.

Northern NSW Football’s General Manager NSW Football Legacy, Annelise Rosnell, was voted Administrator of the Year.

The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup earned Basketball NSW the Event of the Year title and NSW Goalball was named Organisation of the Year.

The all-conquering World Championship winning BC3 Boccia pairs team of Boccia Daniel Michel/Ashlee Maddern (Ramp operator) and Jamieson Leeson/Amanda Leeson (Ramp operator) earned Team of the Year with a Disability.

The NSW Hall of Champions is located at Quaycentre at Sydney Olympic Park.

Layne Beachley and her exhibit

John Forbes and his exhibit

The full list of Award winners are: