Patty Mills has become the first basketballer to win The Don Award, after his inspiring performance led the Boomers to a maiden medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
- The award is presented to athletes whose ‘deeds most inspired the nation’
- Mills was the first Indigenous Australian to carry the flag at the Olympics opening ceremony
- Mills said he wants to use his platform to continue to positively influence others
In Tokyo Mills became the first Indigenous Australian to carry the flag into an Olympic Games opening ceremony, before he starred as the men’s national team took bronze in Tokyo.
Australia defeated Slovenia 107-93 in the bronze medal game with Mills topping the scoring with 42 points.
The Don is presented annually at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) awards to the athlete or team whose deeds most inspired the nation over the past 12 months.
The Brooklyn Nets guard who is presently in the US with the NBA team said he hoped to continue to inspire others.
“I go about my craft as a professional and learn ways to get better, trying to carry myself in a way that I think can inspire others,” Mills said in a statement.
“I never set out to win awards like this, I go about my craft as a professional and learn ways to get better and do so in carrying myself in a way I think I can inspire others.
“The honour isn’t necessarily about me, it’s about the impact on unity, identity, being proud of who you are and expressing that passionately.”
The Dawn award
While Mills was awarded the top gong Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley was awarded the inaugural Dawn Award, named in honour of SAHOF member Dawn Fraser, which recognises an individual, team or organisation — from this or a previous generation — who are courageous, brave and have changed sport for the better.
“I have been unwell and this has been the ultimate cheer-up for me. To be the first recipient makes it even more special,” Goolagong Cawley said.
World number 1 Ash Barty was glowing in her tribute to her idol, a winner of seven grand slam singles titles.
“Evonne was an incredible athlete but more than that, she has been an enormous inspiration to generations of Australians, and to me, as a mentor and a friend,” Barty said.
“The way that she was able to provide a path for others to dare to dream is absolutely remarkable.”
The awards ceremony also announced eight inductees into the Hall of Fame:
- Four-time Olympian and dual-gold cycling medallist Anna Meares
- Two-time world 400m hurdles champion Jana Pittman
- Former Socceroos captain and two-time Olympian Mark Viduka
- 12-time Paralympian and winner of nine gold medals Libby Kosmala
- Olympic men’s hockey gold medallist Jamie Dwyer
- Former Australian women’s cricket captain and ICC Player of the Year Karen Rolton
- Four-time Olympic runner and sport administrator Steve Moneghetti
- Eight-time Olympic water polo player and coach Tom Hoad.
In addition, Dennis Lillee and Ian Thorpe were celebrated after being elevated to legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.