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Women’s T20 side, Eales claim top honours at Sport Australia awards

Former Wallabies captain John Eales pictured after winning the 1999 World Cup.

Former Wallabies captain John Eales pictured after winning the 1999 World Cup. Credit:AP

Meanwhile, Eales became the 42nd legend of Australian sport and the first rugby union player to be bestowed with such an honour. He joins names like E.J. Whitten, Ken Rosewall, Susie O’Neill, Cathy Freeman and Sir Jack Brabham in the legend category.

As a 21-year-old he was an integral part of the Wallabies’ 1991 Rugby World Cup win, where Australia sensationally beat England 12-9 in the final at Twickenham. Then in 1999 he captained the Wallabies to that year’s World Cup final victory at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The Wallabies also retained the Bledisloe Cup between 1998 and 2002 and won the Tri-Nations in 2000 and 2001, all under Eales’ leadership.

Eales was famously nicknamed “Nobody” because nobody is perfect, except for maybe him.

He played 112 times for Queensland, and 86 for the Wallabies of which 60 were as captain.

A lock, Eales was known for his height, strength, skill and ability to be a weapon in the scrum and lineout, while also being a superb kick, ball-handler and leader.

The night also marked hall of fame induction for seven more Australian athletes, headlined by former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham and Opals and WNBA superstar Lauren Jackson.

Cadel Evans is the only Australian to have won the Tour de France.

Cadel Evans is the only Australian to have won the Tour de France. Credit:Reuters

That trio was joined in the hall of fame by 2000 Olympics water polo gold medal winner Bridgette Gusterson, wood-chopper David Foster, two-time Netball World Championships winner Michelle den Dekker and fellow Netball World Championship-winning player and coach Jill McIntosh.

Evans was the first Australian to win the Tour de France when he triumphed in 2011. He was also a champion mountain biker and won the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 1998 and 1999. He is a four-time Olympian, won the points classification title at the Giro d’Italia in 2010 and won the UCI Road Race World Championships in 2009.

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As a 17-year-old, Jackson led the Australian Institute of Sport team to the WNBL title in 1998 and then took all before her in the years to come. She was a three-time WNBA MVP, three-time WNBA scoring champion, seven-time WNBA All-Star and won two WNBA championships playing for the Seattle Storm, where her no.15 jersey is retired.

Jackson is also an Opals legend, winning three Olympic silver medals (2000, 2004 and 2008) and one bronze medal in 2012. She won gold at the 2006 world championships, two bronze medals (1998 and 2002) and a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Melbourne in 2006.

Mitcham sensationally won gold in the 10 metre platform diving event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His win prevented the Chinese taking a clean sweep in diving that year.

A 20-year-old at the time, Mitcham was trailing the leader coming into the final dive and pulled off the highest single-dive score in Olympic history to jump in front of Zhou Luxin and take the gold home for Australia.

He also won a gold medal in the 10m synchronised event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and won a further six silver medals across the 2010 Dehli Commonwealth Games and the 2014 event.

He was a bronze medal winner at the 2009 Rome World Championships in the one metre springboard event.

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