Shane Warne and Ron Clarke added to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame

John Bertrand AO, Chair at Sport Australia Hall of Fame

Two of Australia’s late great sportsmen, cricket great Shane Warne AO and champion distance runner Ron Clarke AO MBE have been elevated to Legend status in the nation’s most prestigious sporting club, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Warne, who was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009 as an athlete Member, he popularised the art of leg-spin bowling like no other person before him taking a fantastic 708 wickets from his 145 Tests.

Clarke was one of the 120 inaugural athlete Members to be inducted in 1985. He was one of the greatest distance runners, etching his name into Aussie sporting history with his record-breaking achievements, fierce determination and grace and humility on and off the track.

What is the Sport Australia Hall of Fame?

The annual elevation of Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members to Legend status is the most prestigious sporting honour that can be bestowed on an Australian. Legend status provides an opportunity to celebrate and honour Members who have distinguished themselves at the highest level and their achievements are considered part of Australian folklore.

“Shane Warne and Ron Clarke are the true definition of Legends. Inspirations to all Australians. We are thrilled to announce their well-deserved elevation to Legend status within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. They symbolise everything that is great about sport in Australia,” commented Sport Australia Hall of Fame Legend and Chair John Bertrand AO.

Sport Australia Hall of Fame Members must be retired for 15 years before being considered for elevation to Legend status. The annual elevation of Legend/s is voted by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Board based on recommendations by the Selection Committee.

On Thursday 8th December, in the television special Sport Australia Hall of Fame: Heroes and Legends on the Seven Network, Warne’s father Keith and former Australian captain Allan Border AO reflected on the leg-spinner’s life while marathon runner Steve Moneghetti AM and Clarke’s son, Marcus, paid tribute to these two greats and now officially, Legends.

What is the legacy of the two sports icons?

Shane Warne AO

Shane Warne AO

For more than half of his short life, Shane Warne was not only one of the most envied Aussies, he was also one of the most dominant. Warne had an extraordinary 15-year Test career, with his on-field dominance and Aussie spirit ensuring maximum box-office appeal.

He is the greatest wicket-taker in Australian Test cricket history, taking an extraordinary 708 wickets from his 145 Tests at an average of 25.41 and another 293 wickets in one-day internationals at an average of 25.73. He became the first player in 90 years to take a hat-trick in an Ashes series in 1994, fittingly in front of his adoring home crowd at the MCG.

He broke, Dennis Lillee’s long-standing Aussie record of 355 Test wickets in 2000 and went on to become the first player to push through the 700-wicket barrier in his final Test series in 2006-07 by dismissing England’s Andrew Strauss at the MCG. His one-time bowling coach, former leg-spinner Terry Jenner, predicted cricket was about to be transformed forever.

“I know what is going to happen. Warne will inspire kids to bowl leg-spin and you will see all the junior rep teams stocked with them,” Jenner said at the time. He added that Warne would remain a ‘one off’ from the production line of young leg-spinners because he was in a world of his own. Among the many of Warne’s accolades, one of the most significant came in 2000 when he was chosen as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the 20th Century.

Other accolades included his name adorning the trophy (which he shares with Muttiah Muralitharan) for Test series contested between Australia and Sri Lanka, being inducted into the Cricket Australia Hall of Fame in 2012 and the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2013.

Warne’s playing record, sense of theatre, capacity to rise to the occasion and character will ensure he stands eternally among the greats of cricket. His name will forever adorn the MCG’s Great Southern Stand and he was posthumously appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2022 for his services to cricket and his varied philanthropic contributions.

Ron Clarke AO MBE

Ron Clarke AO MBE

In a remarkable career, Ron Clarke broke 17 official world records, including 12 in a 44-day tour of Europe in 1965 and held every world record from two miles to the one-hour run.

Albeit Clarke’s dominance, he didn’t yield the Olympic gold medal which had seemed his destiny, but his sixth in Mexico City in 1968 proved to be one of the most courageous, although distressing. Clarke started as the gold medal favourite in the 10,000m, but the dangerously thin air in the high-altitude conditions not only cost him any chance of success it almost cost him his life. He would say: “I died after it, my heart stopped for a few beats.”

His pursuit of a medal pushed him on. He kept running even when the chance of a medal was gone. Clarke was gasping for air and collapsed as he fell over the line. The image of Australian team doctor Brian Corrigan, with a hand held to his head in despair while administering oxygen to Clarke, remains one of the most distressing in Olympic Games history. It wasn’t until years later that Clarke found out about the damage it had been done to his heart.

Clarke received a host of honours in recognition of his achievements in 1965. He was voted BBC International Sportsman of the Year, World Sportsman of the Year by the International Association of Sports Writers, Australian Sportsman of the Year, and Athlete of the Year by the prestigious Track and Field News (USA) and World Sports (United Kingdom). The French Academy of Sport selected him as its World Sportsman of the Year in 1966.

During his flurry of races in 1965 two significant performances stood out, in London when he became the first man to run three miles under 13 minutes and then four days later in Oslo taking 36.2 seconds off the 10,000m world record. He was also, at 19 years old, was chosen by Melbourne Olympic officials to light the cauldron at the 1956 Games.

Ron Clarke competed in three Commonwealth Games – Perth in 1962, Kingston in 1966 and Edinburgh in 1970 – and won a total of four silver medals. Clarke also represented Australia in two Olympic Games, Tokyo in 1964 and Mexico City in 1968. In the Tokyo Olympic games he was ninth in the 5000m, won bronze in the 10,000m and was eighth in the marathon. And in the Mexico City edition, Clarke finished sixth in the 10,000m and fifth in the 5000m.

In 2013 Clarke was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for distinguished service to the community through a range of leadership roles with local government and philanthropic organisations and to the promotion of athletics.” In 1966, he became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and was also Mayor of the Gold Coast City Council.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards are sponsored by Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport, and supported by Sportscover and Victoria University.