Patty Mills became the first basketball player to win the Don Award, after her inspiring performance led the Boomers to a first medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
- The award is given to athletes whose “actions have most inspired the nation”
- Mills was the first Indigenous Australian to carry the flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics
- Mills said he wanted to use his platform to continue to positively influence others.
In Tokyo, Mills became the first Indigenous Australian to carry the flag at an Olympics opening ceremony, before becoming the star of the men’s national team that won bronze in Tokyo.
Australia beat Slovenia 107-93 in the bronze medal game with Mills leading with 42 points.
The Don is presented annually at the Australian Sports Hall of Fame (SAHOF) Awards to the athlete or team whose actions have most inspired the nation in the past 12 months.
The Brooklyn Nets goalie who is currently in the United States with the NBA team said he hopes to continue to inspire others.
âI practice my craft as a professional and I learn ways to improve myself, trying to behave in a way that I think can inspire others,â Mills said in a statement.
“I never intended to win awards like this, I practice my craft as a professional and I learn ways to improve myself and to do it by behaving in a way that I thinks they can inspire others.
“Honor isn’t necessarily about me, it’s about the impact on unity, identity, being proud of who you are and expressing it with passion.”
The price of dawn
While Mills received the best gong, Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley received the inaugural Dawn Award, named in honor of SAHOF member Dawn Fraser, which recognizes an individual, team or organization – of this generation. or a previous generation – who are brave, courageous and have changed the sport for the better.
âI was not feeling well and it was the height of joy for me. Being the first recipient makes it even more special,â said Goolagong Cawley.
World number 1 Ash Barty was radiant in her tribute to her idol, winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles.
âEvonne was an incredible athlete but more than that she was a huge inspiration to generations of Australians, and to me as a mentor and friend,â Barty said.
“The way she was able to pave the way for others to dare to dream is absolutely remarkable.”
The awards ceremony also announced eight Hall of Fame inductees:
- Anna Meares, quadruple Olympian and double gold medalist in cycling
- Jana Pittman, double world champion in the 400m hurdles
- Mark Viduka, former Socceroos captain and two-time Olympian
- 12-time Paralympian and nine-time gold medalist Libby Kosmala
- Olympic gold medalist in men’s hockey Jamie Dwyer
- Former Australian Women’s Cricketer Captain and ICC Player of the Year Karen Rolton
- Quadruple Olympic runner and sports administrator Steve Moneghetti
- Eight-time Olympic water polo player and coach, Tom Hoad.
Additionally, Dennis Lillee and Ian Thorpe were celebrated after being elevated to legendary status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
PAA / ABC