Olympic gold medallist and teenage swimming sensation Kyle Chalmers has today been nominated for one of the most prestigious sporting awards, the Don Award, presented by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
The Award, is widely regarded as Australia’s leading contemporary sporting award and is named in honour of Australian sporting Legend and first Sport Australia Hall of Fame Inductee, Sir Donald Bradman, is for the Australian athlete or Team who, by their achievements and example over the last 12 months, are considered to have had the capacity to most inspire the nation.
At just 18 years-of-age Chalmers this year became the first Australian male to win gold in the 100m freestyle at an Olympic Games since Michael Wenden in 1968. His ‘don’t hold back’ and ‘get in and give it a go’ attitude proved a recipe for success in Rio.
Chalmers , who only made his first senior Australian Swim Team in 2015 for the FINA World Championships left his debut Olympic Games with three medals, including gold in the 100m freestyle, bronze in the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay events.
The down-to-earth football and sport mad South Australian emerged from the Olympic Games as an inspiration to kids all across Australia and the world following his victory in the men’s 100m freestyle final.
Up against a quality field, the unsuspecting champion and ultimate underdog turned in seventh place at the halfway mark but put together a fast final 50 metres to steal the win in a new personal best time of 47.58 seconds.
On hearing of his nomination for the Award Chalmers said,
“It is an honour for me to be recognised for such a prestigious award. Hopefully my race proves to young Australians that anything is possible when you train hard, set goals and listen to your coaches.”
For years there has been talk on pool deck about Chalmers’ potential, he even drew comparisons with Ian Thorpe after breaking a number of his age group records.
But as Chalmers said following his win in Rio, he “had done nothing in the sport until now”.
And now, the something that he has done has inspired a nation, flying under the radar all the way from the national championships in April through the heats, semi-finals and even the final of the 100m freestyle in Rio.
He held his nerve and proved anything was possible if you work hard and have self-belief.
But more than that, Chalmers was humble in his victory. His first thoughts post-race were for his Rio roommate Cameron McEvoy and his well-being after going into the race as favourite, and as a testament to the culture of the team McEvoy’s first thoughts were to celebrate Chalmers’ win.
Australia loves an underdog and Chalmers’ come from behind victory to bring the sprint title back into Australia’s hands was watched by millions of people on the edge of their seats across the country and certainly inspired our nation.
‘The Don’ Award for 2016 will be presented at the 32nd Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner – presented by Etihad Airways – onThursday, 13th October 2016 at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne.
The first Don Award recipients were cricketer Mark Taylor and marathon runner Heather Thurland who shared the inaugural award in 1998. Previous swimmers to win the award have been Ian Thorpe in 1999, Petria Thomas in 2004 and Grant Hackett in 2005. Other winners of the Award include the likes of sporting legends, Sally Pearson, Cadel Evans and Cathy Freeman.
For more information go to http://www.sahof.org.au/