Great Moments in Australian Sport

Great Moments in Australian Sport        
Prepared by  Prepared by: Greg Blood, AIS Emeritus Researcher and Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by   Evaluation by: Dr Bruce Coe, ACT Convenor, Australian Society for Sports History (July 2016); Greg Blood, AIS Emeritus Researcher (August 2017)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 30 August 2017
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Introduction

This list of great moments in Australian sport is based on media compiled lists, expert opinion, or organisational recognition. Generally the moment or event has received a great deal of media coverage or public acclaim. This list is not exhaustive and is subjective by nature. 

This list focuses on single events and performances and does not include the long term world class performances by athletes such as squash player Heather McKay, surfer Layne Beachley, and tennis player Margaret Court. These athletes and others are recognised in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.


In 2007, at its annual awards dinner, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) recognised the importance of sporting moments by introducing a Great Sporting Moments category.

SAHOF stated:

Throughout our nation's history there have been many outstanding sporting moments that collectively contribute a significant thread to the Australian sporting tapestry. SAHOF

These moments may highlight the value of sport in terms of:

  • a sense of international or national achievement
  • patriotism
  • outstanding sportsmanship

These moments are often used in motivating athletes and teams and highlight how sport can capture the imagination of a nation.

This list relates to post World War 2 achievements as most expert lists focus on this period. However, notable moments prior to World War 2 include Phar Lap's win in the 1930 Melbourne Cup; Don Bradman in 1930 scoring 309 runs in one day during the Third Ashes Test at Leeds; and Walter Lindrum's world billiards record in 1932.  
1948

CRICKET

The 1948 Australian cricket team, 'The Invincibles', for their unbeaten eight-month tour of
England. Video - YouTube [11]

1952

BOXING

Jimmy Carruthers becoming the first Australian to win a boxing World Championship
(bantamweight). Video - YouTube [14]

1953

TENNIS

Teenagers Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall leading Australia to victory against the United States
in the Davis Cup Final at Kooyong in Melbourne. Video - YouTube [7]

1954

GOLF

Peter Thomson becoming the first Australian to win the British Open. Thomson went on to
win five Open titles. Video - YouTube [1] [2] [7]

1954

ATHLETICS

Runner John Landy becoming the first Australian to break the four-minute mile in 3:58.00 in Turku, Finland, also breaking the 1500-metre world record in the same race with 3.41.8. [15]

1956

ATHLETICS

Runner John Landy during the mile final at the 1956 Australian National Championships
stopping and doubling back to check on fellow runner Ron Clarke after another runner
clipped Clarke's heel, causing him to fall early in the third lap of the race. As the National
Centre for History and Education in Australia described "it was a spontaneous gesture of
sportsmanship and it has never been forgotten. Video - YouTube [1] [2] [3] [4] [7]

1956

OLYMPIC GAMES

Melbourne hosting the Olympics for the first time and Australia winning 13 gold medals. Australian Olympic Committee [3] [7]

1958

ATHLETICS

Herb Elliot taking a massive 2.7 seconds off the world four-minute mile record in Dublin
Ireland with a time of 3.54.5. Elliot did 17 sub-four-minute miles at a time when the feat
was a rarity. Video - YouTube [16]

1959

MOTOR SPORT

Jack Brabham pushing his Cooper-Climax the final 500 metres of the United States
Grand Prix after his car ran out of petrol. He also won his first World Formula 1 championship.
Video - YouTube [7] [13]

1960

ATHLETICS

Herb Elliott winning the gold medal in the Men’s 1500-metre at the 1960 Rome Olympics
in a world record time lowering his previous world record.
Video - Australian Olympic Committee [1] [2] [7]

1960

CRICKET

The first Tied Test was played between the Australia and West Indies at the Brisbane Cricket
Ground, known as "The Gabba". Video - YouTube [1] [2] [7]

1964

SWIMMING

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Dawn Fraser became the first swimmer to win three successive Olympic swimming gold medals in the same event by winning the Women’s 100-metre Freestyle. Video - YouTube [1] [7]

1964

ATHLETICS

Betty Cuthbert winning the Women's 400-metre at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, eight years
after winning three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Audio - YouTube [1] [2] [7]

1965

SOFTBALL

Australia’s 1965 women's softball team became the first official world softball champions beating the US favourites 1-0 in the final in Melbourne. [24] Video - YouTube

1966

RUGBY LEAGUE

St George Dragons winning their 11th successive New South Wales Rugby League
premiership by defeating Balmain Tigers 23-4 in the final. Video - YouTube [1] [7]

1966

MOTOR SPORT

Jack Brabham became the first (and still only) driver, to win the World Formula 1 Championship in a car of his own make. Video - When We Were Racers : ABC Australian Story (2009) [13]

1968

BOXING

Lionel Rose defeating Japan's Fighting Harada in Tokyo to win the world bantamweight title.
He made history by becoming the first indigenous Australian to be a world champion boxer.
Video - YouTube [1] [2] [3] [7]

1968

ATHLETICS

Peter Norman's black power statement during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200-metre
at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Video - YouTube [4]

1969

TENNIS

Rod Laver becoming the only man to win the Grand Slam (all four major tournaments in the
same calendar year) twice when winning the US Open by defeating Tony Roche in the final.
Video - YouTube  [1] [7]

1970

AUSTRALIAN RULES

Carlton Football Club staged one of the greatest comebacks in Victorian Football League
(VFL) history by defeating Collingwood in the Grand Final. During the game, Alex Jesaulenko
took what is arguably the greatest mark in Grand Final history. Video YouTube [3]

1970

TENNIS

Margaret Court becoming the first woman during the open era (and the second woman in history) to win the singles Grand Slam (all four major tournaments in the same calendar year).

1977

CRICKET

The Centenary Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground had many memorable moments
including David Hookes scoring blitz against the bowling of Tony Greig. The result was the
exact result of the first test played between Australia and England - Australia winning by
45 runs. Video - YouTube [3]  [5] [7]

1980

TENNIS

Evonne Goolagong Cawley winning the women's Wimbledon singles title for the second time
and becoming the first mother in 66 years to achieve that feat. Video - Daily Motion [6] [7]

1982

ATHLETICS

Robert de Castella's courageous win in the marathon at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
Video - YouTube [7]

1983

SAILING

Australia II skippered by John Bertrand defeating Dennis Conner’s Liberty to win the America's Cup . Australia II won the seventh and final race after trailing Liberty 3-1 in the best-of-seven-series to become the first successful challenger in 132 years; since the schooner America won the inaugural race around England's Isle of Wight in 1851. Video - ABC's Australian Story - Down by the Sea Part One, Part Two [1] [4] [7]

1984

RUGBY UNION

The 1984 Wallabies becoming the first team from Australia to achieve a Grand Slam by
defeating all four Home Nations - England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland as well as defeating
a strong Barbarians side. Video - YouTube (Australian Rugby Union Mark Ella's tries)  [7]

1987

CRICKET

Australia defeating arch-rivals England to claim their first Cricket World Cup (also known
as the Reliance World Cup). Video - YouTube [17]

1988

HOCKEY

Australia's Women's Hockey team (Hockeyroos) win Australia's first ever Gold Medal in Olympic hockey competition at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. [23]

1989

MOTORCYCLING

Wayne Gardner winning the inaugural 500cc Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip
Island. He had previously won the world title in 1987. Video - YouTube [7]

1991

NETBALL

Australia’s 53-52 World Championship victory over reigning champions New Zealand at the
Sydney Entertainment Centre has  been hailed as one of the greatest netball games ever.
Video - Vimeo (Netball Australia)

1991

RUGBY UNION

Australia winning the second Rugby World Cup, defeating England 12-6. Video - YouTube
(World Rugby) [18]

1992

PARALYMPIC GAMES

Amputee skier Michael Milton won Australia's first Gold Medal at a Winter Paralympics by
winning the Men's Slalom LW2 at the 1992 Tignes-Albertville Winter Paralympics.
Video - YouTube

1993

CRICKET

Leg spin bowler Shane Warne bowling England's Mike Gatting with his first ball in the
1st Ashes Test at Old Trafford Cricket Ground with what has been described as the
"Ball of the Century" or the "Gatting Ball'. Video - YouTube [4] [5]  [7]

1993

OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

Sydney winning the right to host the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Video - YouTube [4] [7]

1996

ATHLETICS

Wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage winning four gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. [7]

1996

SWIMMING

Kieren Perkins, the reigning Olympic champion, scraping into the final of the Men’s
1500-metre Freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics,  and going on to win the gold medal
from the unfancied lane eight.  Video - YouTube Part 1, Part 2 (Finish) [1] [4] [5]

1999

RUGBY UNION

Stephen Larkham's 49 metre drop goal in extra time against South Africa in a World Cup
semi-final. Australia went on to win the World Cup for the second time. Video - YouTube

1999

CRICKET

Australia tied with South Africa in Cricket World Cup 2nd semi-final after a run out following a
disastrous mix-up involving Allan Donald and Lance Klusener. The tie resulted in Australia
proceeding to the final in which it easily defeated Pakistan to win their second World Cup.
Video - YouTube [5]

2000

ATHLETICS

Cathy Freeman becoming Australia's first indigenous individual gold medalist by winning the
Women’s 400-metre at the Sydney Olympics. Video - YouTube [1]

2000

SWIMMING

Australia’s Men’s 4 x 100-metre Freestyle Relay team defeating the United States to win the
gold medal at the Sydney Olympics after Ian Thorpe overcame a deficit in the final leg to
defeat Gary Hall, Jr. Video - YouTube [4]

2000

WATER POLO

Australian women’s water polo team defying the odds to win the gold medal by defeating the United States in front of an ecstatic home crowd at the Sydney Olympics. [4]

2000

OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

Sydney successfully hosting the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Both Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams had their most successful Games on record in terms of total medals won. [5]

2000

RUGBY UNION

Wallabies captain John Eales kicking a sideline penalty goal in the final minutes of a Test
against New Zealand to win the Bledisloe Cup. Video - YouTube [5]

2002

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING

Steven Bradbury becoming Australia's first Winter Olympics gold medallist at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, by winning the Men’s 1000-metre. Bradbury became an unlikely hero after his three favoured opponents fell at the last turn. The term "Doing a Bradbury" subsequently entered the Australian lexicon. Video - YouTube [4]

2002

FREESTYLE SKIING

At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, freestyle skier Alisa Camplin became Australia's
first female to win a Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics by winning the Women's Aerials.
Video - YouTube

2002

HORSE RACING

Jockey Damian Oliver winning the Melbourne Cup on Media Puzzle shortly after the death of
his brother as a result of a horse race accident in Perth, Western Australia.
Video - YouTube [4]

2003

CRICKET

Australian captain Steve Waugh scoring a century on the last ball of the day at the Sydney
Cricket Ground during the 5th Ashes Test. Video - YouTube [5]

2003

ALPINE SKIING

Michael Milton being awarded the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
award. Michael won four Gold medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Games,
becoming the first athlete in his amputee class to win all eligible alpine skiing events.
Video - YouTube [10]

2005

FOOTBALL

The Socceroos defeating Uruguay at Stadium Australia to qualify for the 2006 FIFA Cup. John
Aloisi’s successful shot in the penalty kick shootout sparked celebrations throughout
Australia.  Video - YouTube [1] [5] [4]

2005

HORSE RACING

Makybe Diva becoming the first horse to win three successive Melbourne Cups.
Video - YouTube [3]

2005

AUSTRALIAN RULES

Sydney Swans victory in the Australian Football League Grand Final and Leo Barry's
match-saving mark on the siren. Video - YouTube[4]

2006

ATHLETICS

Kerryn McCann winning the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Women's Marathon.
Video - YouTube [4]


2011

CYCLING

Cadel Evans becoming the first Australian to win the Tour de France. Video - YouTube [4] [5]


2012

HORSE RACING

Black Caviar setting a new Australasian record of 20 straight wins from 20 starts. She
retired in 2013 with 25 consecutive wins. Video - YouTube

2012

SWIMMING

Jacqueline Freeney winning eight gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympics to beat
Siobhan Paton's Australian record of six gold medals at a single Games. Video - YouTube

2013

GOLF

Adam Scott becoming the first Australian to win the US Masters, one of the four major golf tournaments (Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship (British) and PGA Championship). Video - ABC 7:30 [8]

2015

FOOTBALL

Socceroos defeating South Korea 2-1 to win the Asian Cup for the first time. Video - YouTube


2015

HORSE RACING

Michelle Payne in riding Prince of Penzance became the first female jockey to win the
Melbourne Cup in its 155 year history. Video - YouTube

2016

CYCLING

Mathew Hayman's Paris-Roubaix win will be remembered, not only for the momentous
achievement of taking out one of the biggest races in the sport, but for the number of times
he defied all conventional cycling logic. Video - YouTube [9]

2016

MODERN PENTATHLON

Chloe Esposito winning Australia's first ever Olympic medal in Modern Pentathlon with Gold
at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Video - YouTube[19]

2016

RUGBY UNION

Women's Rugby 7's team winning the Gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the first
time the sport was played at the Olympics. Video - YouTube [20]

2016

CYCLING/SKIING

Jessica Gallagher becoming the first Australian Paralympian to win medals at the both the
Summer and Winter Paralympics by winning a bronze medal in cycling at the Rio 2016
Paralympics. Previously she had won bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver (Slalom) and
2014 Sochi (Giant Slalom) Winter Paralympic Games. Video - YouTube [21]

2016

TENNIS

Dylan Alcott being awarded the Newcombe Medal, the highest award for tennis in Australia.
In 2016 Dylan won the Australian, French, British, South African and Japan Opens as well
as wins in both Brisbane and Sydney. He also partnered with fellow Victorian Heath
Davidson to win the World Team Cup in Tokyo before winning two gold medals, in singles and
doubles (again with Davidson), at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Video - YouTube [22]

2017

AUSTRALIAN RULES

Adelaide Crows defeating the Brisbane Lions by 1 goal to become Premiers in the first
national professional Australian rules football League for female players, the AFLW.
Video - YouTube

2017

NETBALL

Sunshine Coast Lightning defeating the Giants, 65-48, in the inaugural Australian Super
Netball Championships. Video - YouTube (Netball Australia)

2017

CROQUET

Australia winning the MacRobertson International Croquet Shield, the ‘Olympics of croquet’, for the first time in 82 years. Videos - YouTube [25]


References

[1]   Australia's top 10 sporting moments, Jenny Curtin, Sydney Morning Herald. (18 February 2013)
[2]   Great moments in Australian sport, R. S. Whitington, Sun Books, (1974), ISBN 0725102128.
[3]   The sporting capital of the world: We look at the top 12 moments in Melbourne's rich sports history, Brendan Casey, Herald Sun, (14 October 2013)
[4]   Great sporting moments. Sport Australia Hall of Fame website.
[5]   21 Years, The Top 21 Sporting Moments. ABC Grandstand, (2011)
[6]   'Great Australian Sporting Moments', Michael Roberts, The Miegunyah Press, (2008), ISBN 9780522855470.
[7]   '100 great Australian sporting moments', Sunday Telegraph, (1998)
[8]   We take a look at some of Australia's most memorable moments, Ben Broad, Courier Mail, (15 April 2013)
[9] Myth Busters: the Mathew Hayman Paris-Roubaix edition, Jamie Finch-Penninger, SBS (11 April 2016)
[10] Laureus World Sports Awards, (accessed 1 July 2016).
[11] Australian Stories: Sporting Greats, Clarity Communications Australia, australia.gov.au (14 November 2015)
[12] Margaret Court, Wikipedia, (accessed 4 July 2016).  
[13] Jack Brabham, Formula 1, (accessed 18 July 2016).
[14] R. I. Cashman, 'Carruthers, James William (Jimmy) (1929–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/carruthers-james-william-jimmy-12294/text22077, published first in hardcopy 2007, (accessed online 18 July 2016).  
[15] John Landy (1930-) AC MBE, Athletics Australia Hall of Fame, (accessed 18 July 2016).
[16] Herb Elliott (1938-) AC MBE, Athletics Australia Hall of Fame, (accessed 18 July 2016). 
[17] 1987 Cricket World Cup, Wikipedia, (accessed 18 July 2016).     
[18] Rugby World Cup, Wikipedia, (accessed 18 July 2016).    
[19] Chloe Esposito wins gold for Australia in women's modern pentathlon, ABC News, (accessed 15 December 2016).
[20] Australia beats New Zealand for historic rugby sevens gold, ABC News, (accessed 15 December 2016).
[21] Jessica Gallagher creates Australian Paralympic history as first Summer and Winter medallist, Amada Lulham, Daily Telegraph, September 12 2016, (accessed 15 December 2016).
[22] Alcott awarded 2016 Newcombe Medal, Tennis Australia, (28 November 2016, accessed 15 December 2016). 
[23] Team Sport Australia Award: Women's Hockey Team (Hockeyroos) 1988, Sports Australia Hall of Fame, (accessed 16 December 2016).
[24] Team Sport Australia Award: 1965 Women's Softball Team - 1965, Sports Australia Hall of Fame, (accessed 16 December 2016). 
[25] 'Olympics of croquet': Brother trio leads Australia to victory in coveted MacRobertson Shield, Duncan Huntsdale & Sarah Whyte, ABC News, 5 May 2017 (accessed 30 August 2017)


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Article iconArticles

books iconBooks

  • Great moments in Australian sport. Whitington, R.S, Sun Books, (1974), ISBN 0725102128.
  • 'Great Australian Sporting Moments'. Roberts, Michael,  The Miegunyah Press, (2008), ISBN 9780522855470 

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