The Boy From Bowral: Caleb Ewan Among Australia's Top Athletes At 2019 Don Awards

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Nine of Australia’s best athletes including Caleb Ewan will vie for the 2019 ‘The Don’ Award at next week’s 35th annual gala ceremony & dinner.

The field for the prestigious award has been unveiled with this year’s other nominees including tennis grand slam champions Dylan Alcott OAM and Ashleigh Barty, 2018 NRL premiership hero Cooper Cronk, 2018 world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore, Bathurst 1000 2018 winner Craig Lowndes OAM, Ashes winners Ellyse Perry and Tim Paine, and swimming world champion Ariarne Titmus.

Their performances reflect the standards of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s first Inductee, the late Sir Donald Bradman AC, and The Don is awarded annually to the athlete or team who, through their performance and example has most inspired the nation. The last cyclist to win the award was Cadel Evans in 2011.

Three Stages At The TDF

After a stellar year that included winning three stages of the world's greatest cycling race, the Tour de France, Caleb Ewan said the close association with Sir Donald Bradman, makes his nomination even more special.

“Given I spend so much of my life and so much of my career overseas, it is very special to be acknowledged in Australia this way by our elite sporting body alongside so many inspirational champions of Australian sport.”

“Like Sir Donald Bradman, I also hail from Bowral but maybe that’s where the similarities end, particularly on a cricket field! To me he was a person that was not only the very best at his chosen sport cricket, but a person that represented Australia with such distinction and integrity at all times despite the circumstances and it seems to me that it was as important to him as his on-field deeds.”

‘THE DON’ AWARD
2019 FINALISTS

Athlete

Sport

Achievements

Dylan Alcott OAM

Tennis

Nine-time grand-slam champion Dylan Alcott won this year’s Australian, French and Wimbledon Quad Wheelchair singles championships. 

Both his French and Wimbledon singles titles were the first ever contested at the world’s most prestigious tournaments and he is the first player to simultaneously hold all four majors. He is also the current Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Quad Wheelchair doubles champion.

Alcott is using his rising profile to become a leading disability campaigner.  He has set up two foundations and created an all abilities music festival and is focused on changing the perception of people with disabilities and breaking down barriers to disability inclusiveness.

This is the second year that Dylan has been a finalist in ‘The Don’ Award following his first nomination in 2016.

Ashleigh Barty

Tennis

Ashleigh Barty broke through for her first major championship win at the French Open, the first Australian woman to win that tournament since Margaret Court AO MBE 46 years earlier (1973).

In winning her next tournament, the Birmingham Classic, Barty rose to the No 1 world ranking, only the second Australian woman to do so since Evonne Goolagong-Cawley AC MBE in 1976.

23- year-old Barty joins Goolagong-Cawley, John Newcombe AO OBE, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt AM becoming only the 5th Australian to have reached this pinnacle since the rankings were introduced in 1973, and the first since Hewitt in 2003.

Barty, who took a break from tennis for more than a year before returning three years ago with a ranking in the 600s, earned worldwide acclamation for this phenomenal turnaround and her humility, graciousness, poise and determination in both victory and defeat.

Cooper Cronk

Rugby League

Cooper Cronk’s performance in the 2018 NRL premiership with the Sydney Roosters will go down in history.

Cronk showed great courage by playing an important role in the Sydney Roosters’ NRL premiership despite taking the field with a broken scapula which made it almost impossible to handle the ball, or to even train properly for the match.

Instead, he ran tirelessly throughout, showing leadership, instructing, encouraging and inspiring his teammates as they overcame Melbourne Storm, the club for which he had played 325 games before moving to Sydney at the end of the previous season.

The popular half-back - a regular Australian and Queensland representative in earlier years - became the first to play in consecutive premierships for two different clubs, giving him three in all.

Caleb Ewan

Cycling

Caleb Ewan stamped himself as an emerging star on cycling’s biggest stage when he won three stages – including the coveted final stage, the traditional parade race to the Champs-Elysées in Paris – on his debut in the Tour de France.

He also had one second placing, three thirds and finished runner-up behind the veteran champion Peter Sagan for the sprinters’ green jersey, second only to the winner’s yellow jersey for prestige.

Ewan, a modest and likeable character, demonstrated great persistence and self-belief after leaving the Australian team Mitchelton-Scott last year and switching to the Belgian outfit Lotto Soudal for more opportunity which he grabbed with both hands.

Stephanie Gilmore 

Surfing

Stephanie Gilmore is one of the most dominant surfers in history having won the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour, her seventh world title, equalling Australian compatriot Layne Beachley AO as the only women in the world to win seven World Surfing titles.

Gilmore, 30, renowned for her artistic and aggressive style as well as her technical expertise, is now in a position to chase the 11 men’s world titles won by legendary American Kelly Slater.

Gilmore won her first title in 2007, her rookie year – the first surfer of either gender to accomplish that feat.

This is the third year that Stephanie has been a finalist in ‘The Don’ Award following nominations in 2010 and 2012.

Craig Lowndes OAM

Motor Racing

Craig Lowndes pulled off a fairy-tale seventh win in the Bathurst 1000 in his 25th and final outing as a lead driver, conquering the mountain in his last stand, 22 years since his first victory.

The win, with co-driver Steve Richards, cemented him as one of the all-time greats and into equal second place for the most Bathurst victories. He is tied with Richards’ father Jim Richards, behind the all-time King of the Mountain and early mentor of Lowndes, the late Peter Brock who has nine.

Lowndes is a three-time V8 Supercars champion and earlier this year was inducted into the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame.

Tim Paine

Cricket

Test captain Tim Paine’s influential leadership was largely responsible for Australia not only defending The Ashes on English soil – a result not achieved for 18 years – but returning cricket to its traditional status as the nation’s most popular international sport.

The successful campaign on cricket’s biggest stage was a triumph for an impressive man who never expected to find himself in sport’s most prestigious job, let alone in such challenging circumstances.

Untarnished by the ball tampering scandal that badly damaged the game’s image, morale and respect, Paine stepped up under immense pressure and rigorous scrutiny to ensure Australian sports fans could again be proud of their team’s performance and conduct.

He proved individual excellence on a scoreboard is not necessarily the most inspirational ingredient of success, that character, resilience, dedication and integrity are often even more important.   

Ellyse Perry

Cricket

Ellyse Perry was the stand-out star of the winning women’s Ashes cricket tour of England.

She scored 116 and 76 not out in the only Test, taking 7-22 in the third one-day international, the best figures by an Australian woman in that format.

Perry became the first player in the world to achieve the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Twenty20 cricket.

Perry’s amazing all-round capabilities have set the standard for the thousands of girls aspiring to become professional cricketers and helped make Australia a pacesetter in the international game.

This is the second consecutive year that Perry has been a finalist in ‘The Don’ Award.

Ariarne Titmus

Swimming

Ariarne Titmus achieved a stunning upset to defeat the legendary Katie Ledecky in the 400m freestyle at the 2019 World Swimming Championships.

In doing so she became the first Australian woman since Tracey Wickham OAM MBE in 1978 to win that title.

Until 18-year-old Titmus pulled off one of the greatest boilovers, the American had not been beaten in the 400m, 800m or 1500m freestyle at a major international meet since 2012.

Titmus completed the Championships with two gold, one silver and one bronze. She also anchored the women’s 4 X 200m freestyle to a world record

 

Sport Australia Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chair Rob de Castella AO MBE said the Don Award is unique in sport, just as was the man. 

"No other award acknowledges the inspiration, character and intangible element called sportsmanship like the Don Award," 'Deek' said.  "It is not the best athlete or team of the year, it is so much more. It is more about the how, than the what. This is what makes us most proud of them.”

 

 

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