LEGENDS: We name our Olympic greats
OLYMPICS: With Brisbane’s 2032 Olympics bid growing stronger every day, and Toowoomba’s sporting faithful supporting the cause, The Chronicle sports team is revisiting its Toowoomba’s greatest Olympians list.
We’ve added a few names and shuffled a few others around in the order. Did we miss someone out? Tell us what you think.
1. Glynis Nunn-Cearns: Her Olympic debut is one for the history books. Nunn-Cearns began competing in athletics at nine while she was a student at Toowoomba South State School. Nunn-Cearns backed up her 1982 Commonwealth Games heptathlon gold with an equally impressive performance in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. With a total score of 6390 points, five more than runner-up Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nunn-Cearns won gold in the first ever women’s Olympics heptathlon event.
2. Nikki Hudson: Toowoomba has produced some of Australian hockey’s greatest, but few can match Hudson. The striker scored 99 goals in 300 games, including three in Australia’s 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medal winning campaign. Hudson has inspired countless Toowoomba players to strive for greatness.
3. Justin Anlezark: For some athletes, one Olympics is enough – a dream come true. For shot putter Justin Anlezark, one Olympics gave him a thirst that could not be easily quenched. Anlezark is considered one of Australia’s great track and field athletes having qualified for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
4. Tim Cuddihy: Cuddihy’s journey from an archery range in Toowoomba to the 2004 Athens Olympics is the stuff dreams are made of. After winning his first three elimination matches, he beat Korea’s Park Kyung-mo 112-111 in the quarter-final. After losing to Hiroshi Yamamoto in a 10-9 tie-breaker, Cuddihy beat Great Britain’s Laurence Godfrey 113-112 to earn the bronze.
5. Michael Brennan: Another of Toowoomba’s star products, Brennan has Olympics bronze and gold to his name. His 2004 Athens gold is all the more remarkable when you consider he was coaxed out of a three-year retirement following the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
6/7. Emilee Cherry and Gemma Etheridge: It’s impossible to separate these two rugby stars on our list. Cherry gets the edge only because she has a rugby competition named after her here on the Darling Downs. Both players starred in Australia’s Rugby Sevens gold medal win at the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
8. Angie Lambert: Another member of our golden hockey generation, Lambert (nee Skirving) played in three Olympic campaigns (2000 gold medal win, 2004, 2008). After debuting at 17, she played 229 games for Australia and scored 49 goals.
9. Jenni Screen: After making a name for herself in the WNBL, Screen played professional basketball in Italy. Screen, who played all her junior basketball in Toowoomba, won silver (2008 Beijing) and bronze (2012 London) at the Olympic Games.
10. Jared Graves: Graves has ridden bikes on some of the world’s biggest stages but none bigger than the 2008 Olympics when BMX made its debut. Graves was a medal favourite at the event before disaster struck. Leading into the first turn of the final, Graves was involved in a mass crash started by American Donny Robinson when he clipped South African Sifiso Nhlapo. Graves finished sixth after the pileup.
11. Sally Kehoe: The bronze and silver world championship medallist represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing and 2021 London Olympics. Kehoe earned her spot in the 2008 team after a battle between 10 women for the eight available seats in the boat. Four years later she again featured in the women’s eight – with both squads finishing 6th at their respective Olympics.
12. Pat Teirnan: The current Australian 10,000m record holder runs under the Oregon Track Club Elite banner but still proudly calls Toowoomba home. Teirnan, who ran in the 5000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is currently preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
13. Pippa Savage: Talent spotted at age 21, Savage rose through the rowing ranks before representing Australia as a 27-year-old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – finishing 10th in the single sculls. Savage’s path to the 2012 London Olympics would have been the stuff of legends if not for a “falling out”. Nine months after breaking both her arms in a cycling accident, Savage was named in the Australian women’s quad sculls – a serious falling out with her crew saw her removed from the squad prior to the London games.
14. Cathy Freeman: The legendary sprinter earns a spot on our list due to her brief tenure at Fairholme College. Freeman, who won 400m gold at the Sydney Olympics, blitzed the field at Fairholme’s 1988 athletics carnival.
Originally published as LEGENDS: We name our Olympic greats