JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Poll position for skater, but Fraser named greatest

Dawn Fraser on Wednesday night in Canberra.

Dawn Fraser on Wednesday night in Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

Dawn Fraser was crowned Australia's greatest female athlete in a ceremony at Parliament House on Wednesday night, but had the voting public got its way the gong could have gone to a skater from the Canberra Roller Derby League nicknamed ShortStop.

The ceremony was the culmination of Sport for Women Day, an event held to discuss the development and promotion of women in sport, but the list of the top 100 female athletes released on Wednesday is sure to cause plenty more debate.

Few could argue that Fraser, named Athlete of the Century by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1999, did not deserve the honour as this country's greatest female athlete.

Natalie Cook, Dawn Fraser, Kerri Pottharst and Layne Beachley.

Natalie Cook, Dawn Fraser, Kerri Pottharst and Layne Beachley. Photo: Melissa Adams

But there were plenty of surprises in the top 100, including the exclusion of Australia's most decorated Olympic female swimmer Leisel Jones and two-time world 400-metre hurdles champion Jana Pittman.

And things could have got a little more alarming had the list been left in the public's hands.

There were 246 nominees and the public was given eight months to vote via the website It's understood fans of roller derby, a contact sport involving teams of five on roller skates, launched an online campaign, with Christine Murray - who has the nickname ShortStop - leading the public vote.

Layne Beachley with husband Kirk Pengilly.

Layne Beachley with husband Kirk Pengilly. Photo: Melissa Adams

Andy Turnbull of Sports Hydrant, organisers of the event, would not back down from the list of 100.

''What I would like to say is that online they [roller derby fans] were very vociferous and supportive of their champions,'' Turnbull said.

''There were 246 nominations which came from the sports themselves based on their hall of fame and the general public. The public were then asked to vote on it and then we have moderated it … clearly you can't take a popularity vote. We've basically taken advice from sport and key opinion formers within sport and added it to the public vote to create that list.

''It was a process and I am happy for there to be debate.''

Fraser, who won gold medals in the 100m swimming at three consecutive Olympics, was named at No.1 ahead of former champion sprinter Betty Cuthbert and seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley.

There were 13 swimmers named in the top 100, but in an obvious oversight there was no place for Jones, Australia's most decorated female Olympian with nine medals from four Games.

Pittman was set to attend the event as a guest speaker but was a late withdrawal. She was also absent from the top 100.

Canberra Capitals star and London Olympics flag bearer Lauren Jackson was No.5 on the list. Heather McKay, one of the most formidable women's squash players in history, was named the ACT's top sportswoman.

McKay, who was undefeated in competitive squash from 1962-81, was given the award by ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.

The award for the greatest team was presented to the gold medal-winning Hockeyroos from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Beachley said the success of Wednesday's event would not be lost amid the debate of the top 100.

Administrators and athletes from across Australia came to Canberra for the one-day workshop, with an agenda for women's sport presented to Sports Minister Kate Lundy at the conclusion of the event.  


1. Dawn Fraser (swimming)
2. Betty Cuthbert (athletics)
3. Layne Beachley (surfing)
4. Margaret Court (tennis)
5. Lauren Jackson (basketball)
6. Heather McKay (squash)
7. Rechelle Hawkes (hockey)
8. Shirley Strickland (athletics)
9. Anna Meares (cycling)
10. Cathy Freeman (athletics)
11. Karrie Webb (golf)
12. Liz Ellis (netball)
13. Elizabeth Kosmala (shooting Paralympics)
14. Belinda Clark (cricket)
15. Louise Sauvage (athletics Paralympics)
16. Julie Murray (soccer)
17. Shane Gould (swimming)
18. Susie O’Neil (swimming)
19. Evonne Goolagong (tennis)
20. Sharelle McMahon (netball)
21. Betty Wilson (cricket)
22. Marjorie Jackson-Nelson (athletics)
23. Cheryl Salisbury (soccer)
24. Sally Pearson (athletics)
25. Alyson Annan (hockey)

The rest (in no particular order): Emma Snowsill, Lydia Lassila, Chantelle Newbery, Nova Peris, Amanda Sparks, Anna Segal, Carmen Marton, Carol Cooke, Christine Murray, Eloise Amberger, Emily Seebohm, Jessica Trengove, Jodi Willis-Roberts, Julie Corletto, Kim Crow, Kristy Judd, Leah Percy, Liane Tooth, Louise Winchester, Maddison Elliott, Megan Marcks, Mirinda Carfrae, Natalie Porter, Sharni Williams, Alicia Coutts, Alisa Camplin, Anne Sargeant, Annette Kellerman, Bev Francis, Caroline Buchanan, Cindy-Lu Fitzpatrick, Debbie Flintoff-King, Debbie Watson, Deborah Acason, Decima Norman, Ellyse Perry, Fanny Durack, Gillian Rolton, Glynis Nunn, Heidi Wittesch, Jacqueline Freney, Jacqui Cooper, Jayme Richardson-Paris, Jessica Palmer, Jessicah Schipper, Julie Dolan, Karen Rolton, Kate Gynther, Kathryn Watt, Kay Cottee, Kerri Pottharst, Kirstie Marshall, Lauren Mitchell, Lauren Burns, Leanne Tander, Libby Trickett, Liesl Tesch, Lisa Sthalekar, Loudy Wiggins, Michele Timms, Michelle Martin, Natalie Cook, Nikki Hudson, Pam Burridge, Petria Thomas, Raelene Boyle, Sally Fitzgibbons, Sam Stosur, Shannon McFerran, Simone Wearne, Stephanie Gillmore, Susie Ramadan, Torah Bright, Tracey Wickham, Zali Steggall.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Tell us below in the comments section who should have or should not have made the list.


  • Its not about who should or shouldn't make the list - its about the international and world recognition of our sporting women. Australia needs to make more of the achievements of our sporting women - I am not sure what the measure is but Aussie women dominate the world in so many sports. It is a very proud realisation that Australian women are so strongly supported at so many levels (there is still room for improvement) that can succeed in so many ways compared to the status of women in may other countries of the world. I have searched unsuccessfully for a website that unequivocally celebrates the success of Australian women in sport - is there one?

    Date and time
    February 27, 2013, 11:26PM
    • Well said Provo. However the list is one step in adding to the recognition of the good things by sportswomen athletes and female sports leaders (for example Chief Executives and Board Directors of sports organisations). Yes there should be a website - I am aware of an Australian one being Sports for Women but there should be others that should be created to build on the recognition by the Awards and this article. Good article by Canberra Times journalists too.

      Joe Sportsfan
      Date and time
      February 28, 2013, 7:48AM
      • I don't see Rachelle Splatt's name here, why.

        Date and time
        February 28, 2013, 7:58AM
        • Well, did you vote for her NITRO GANGSTER?

          Date and time
          February 28, 2013, 10:20AM
        • As a matter of fact I did Alex and so did all my family but in Canberra you are up against it as soon as they, the expert panel makes a noise and smells even if she is the ONLY AUSTRALIAN WOMAN IN THE WORLD TO EVER to accomplish what she has.

          Date and time
          February 28, 2013, 12:23PM
      • Makes you wonder why Dawn wasn't chosen to light the flame at the Sydney Olympics doesn't it?

        Date and time
        February 28, 2013, 9:17AM
        • Dawn wasn't exactly squeaky clean in her day. There was the famous incident of the Japanese flag going missing and a few behaviour issues. She's one of the greats but these polls are meaningless. What would Tracey Wickham have achieved if not for the boycott. Her records stood for many years. Shane Gould, also a great role model.

          Date and time
          February 28, 2013, 10:48AM
          • This is hardly surprising as since she retired from swimming Fraser has spent every waking minute of her life trying to remain in the public eye.

            Date and time
            February 28, 2013, 11:14AM
            • what is the point of holding a public poll of 246 female athletes over an 8 month period to determine the top 100 sportswomen of all time when you're just going to ignore the poll results as they don't suit you? how can the number one athlete by popular vote not even score a spot in the top 100? What a sham.

              Date and time
              February 28, 2013, 11:15AM
              • Congratulations to all of the women who were nominated/voted for by the public. Clearly you are the greatest female athlete to those who were so inspired by you that they felt you needed to be on the list. Keep working hard for the difference you are making in your sport and your community.

                Date and time
                February 28, 2013, 12:27PM

                More comments

                Comments are now closed

                HuffPost Australia

                Featured advertisers