Long may the green and gold shine! The top 10 sporting moments in Aussie history
Whether smashing England 5-0 in the Ashes or going down fighting as the Socceroos did at the 2006 World Cup, Australia is without doubt a great sporting nation.
And with the Commonwealth Games soon to offer yet another stage on which the green and gold will shine, there’s no better time to look back at some of the nation’s most memorable and inspirational sporting moments.
From classic cricket to the Tour de France and even an unexpected Winter Olympics victory, these are our top sporting moments…
Legendary: John Aloisi celebrates the win over Japan in the 2006 World Cup group stage… an iconic moment for Socceroo
Slaying the Samurai
John Aloisi’s penalty against Uruguay in 2005 was the iconic image of the Socceroos’ play-off victory to qualify for a first World Cup finals since 1974. But the win over Japan in the 2006 group stage was just as unforgettable. At 0-1, strikers Tim Cahill, Josh Kennedy and Aloisi were subbed on. Two goals from Cahill and a late one from Aloisi made history.
Speed skater Steven Bradbury toiled a lifetime to reach a Winter Olympics final, yet he’s more known for his opponents’ misfortune at Salt Lake City 2002. He coasted to Australia’s first individual Winter Olympics gold when the other four finalists fell on the final turn.
Gliding to the finish: Steve Bradbury celebrates his unexpected win at the Winter Olympics final in 2002
If Cathy Freeman was feeling the weight of a nation’s expectations on her shoulders at Sydney 2000 after lighting the Olympic opening ceremony flame, the skin-suited hero didn’t show it as she kicked away on the final bend of the 400m. Her relief as she paraded with the Aboriginal and Australian flags was clear though, and as special a moment as the race itself.
Nation’s sweetheart: Cathy Freeman did Australia proud with her multiple gold medals in Olympic and Commonwealth Games
Ian Thorpe’s herculean swim in the Sydney 2000 4x100m freestyle relay – which the US hadn’t lost since it was introduced in 1964 – was special. Klim took a lead, Fydler and Kallus held it… then Thorpe. Fresh from 400m gold, he gave rival Gary Hall Jr a master class, giving up half a body length before swamping him when it mattered for the gold.
Moment of triumph: Ian Thorpe is jubilatant after winning the men’s 200m freestyle final at the 2004 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatic Center in Athens
Going for gold: Ian Thorpe’s glittering career included some spectacular Olympic wins
David beats Goliath
The triumph of Australia II in 1983’s America’s Cup captured the nation’s imagination.
David beat Goliath – the USA – ending their 132 years of domination.
The scenes on Constitution Dock were inspirational as the John Bertrand-skippered vessel docked.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously declared: ‘Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum’.
Setting a new standard
Pat Cash was beyond an underdog to beat world No 1 Ivan Lendl in the 1987 Wimbledon final.
The Melbourne serve-volleyer was expected to fold, but he refused and won in straight sets.
With his iconic checked headband, Cash also became the first Championship winner to climb into the All England Club’s stands.
Tennis champ: Pat Cash started the trend of climbing up to the box after winning Wimbledon in 1987
Ball of the century
Shane Warne took 708 wickets in 145 career Tests, but his first delivery in Ashes cricket at Old Trafford in 1993 has to be the most memorable. Mike Gatting didn’t have a clue when Warne pitched his ‘loosener’ outside leg stump, turned it like a demon and clipped the top of off stump. Gatting stood bemused. Fans still marvel.
Cricketing legend: Shane Warne’s first delivery in the 1993 Ashes was perhaps his most memorable
The Don dominates
The greatest achievement of cricket’s best batsman can’t escape mention. Sir Donald Bradman’s 334 not out in 1930 at Headingley was ferocious. He tore apart the England attack which won the previous Ashes series 4-1, scoring 309 runs in the opening day’s play – even with modern advances, nobody has matched that feat.
The greatest batsman of all time: Sir Donald Bradman tore the England team apart in the 1930 Ashes
Above the pack
Alex Jesaulenko’s 1970 ‘mark of the century’ was topped by Leo Barry’s fearless grab in the 2005 AFL Grand Final that ended Sydney’s 72-year title drought. The full-back showed no regard for personal safety flinging himself into the pack and coming up with the pill – a decisive act for the Swans and an exclamation mark on a man-of-the-match effort.
Bagging the yellow jersey: Cadel Evans dazzled crowds with an acceptance speech in both French and English when he won the Tour de France in 2011
Cadel Evans conquered the odds to win the 2011 Tour de France. He reached the pinnacle of his sport through dogged determination and guile, battling the elements and politics that make the race such a contest. He then accepted his crown with class – a speech in French and then English earned him admiration well beyond his home borders