SASI salutes latest SA Sport Hall of Fame inductees

22 Nov 2018

THE latest inductees into the SA Sport Hall of Fame hit centre stage on Friday, November 16, when they were recognised for their outstanding deeds on the sporting arena in national and international competitions.

The new Hall of Famers, many with strong links to the ultra-successful SASI program over the years, are Anna Meares (cycling), Grant Schubert (hockey), John Cahill (Aussie Rules), John Letts (horse racing), Anthony Clarke (Paralympic judo), Wendy Schaeffer (equestrian, eventing) and the SA Women's Lacrosse team.

SASI director Wes Battams said he was thrilled to see the impact the SASI program had on many athletes' lives.

"SASI has been extremely proud to be able to support each of these athletes at stages along their amazing journeys," Battams said.

"In addition the women's lacrosse team during that period were nearly all SASI athletes with the teams each coached by then SASI Head Lacrosse coach Peter Koshnitsky."

Meares, 36, enjoyed a stellar career in cycling. She was hailed as one of SA's greatest athletes since relocating from her home state in Queensland to join the SASI and national cycling programs.

Touted as the most decorated female track cyclist in the sport's history, Meares won two Olympic gold medals, was an 11-time world champion and was the first Australian athlete to win individual medals at four consecutive Olympic Games. Meares was known for her fearless competitive spirit and for coming back to racing after battling horrific injuries along the way. She retired in 2016.

Meares, also inducted into the Queensland Hall of Fame, was thrilled with her award.

"I feel extremely honoured and proud to be inducted into the SA Sport Hall of Fame," Meares said. "I moved here in 2002 and represented SA for many years. SASI was a wonderfully supportive institute which helped me hone my abilities and know I wasn't alone in the journey.

"There are so many parts of the institute and its staff to name but I am thankful to be a part of the SASI team and SASI family and now the SA Sport Hall of Fame.''

Post cycling Meares is involved in many activites including as a corporate speaker and working with organisations including Little Heroes Foundation, Cycling Cares - FightMND and Port Adelaide Football Club. She also is involved in the Tour Down Under, San Remo and Motor Accident Commission of SA.

Schubert joins the illustrious group after a stellar career in hockey which saw him earn six international titles. Schubert won gold at the 2004 Athens games and was World Hockey Young Player of the Year in 2003.

He also played in teams which won a Comonwealth Games gold, a World Cup and three Champion Trophies.

Schubert, 38, living in Western Australia and working in real estate marketing, said he was thrilled to be selected into the elite sporting family.

"This was absolutely a big surprise," Schubert said. "I had such a good time in hockey and SASI was massive for me at quite a young age.

"SASI gave me an avenue to get to the gym and to get to learn how things worked in elite programs.

"When I think that I was just a country boy from Loxton and to think of the opportunities I have had is special."

Clarke, Schaeffer, and the SA women's lacosse team, all had SASI links, while dual-Melbourne Cup winning jockey John Letts and John Cahill who starred as a player and coach with four flags as a player and 10 as coach of Port Adelaide (SANFL), make up the new inductees.

Blind Sports SA executive and fitness coach Kent Dredge praised Clarke's inclusion into the hall of fame. Clarke, who lost his sight in a car accident, won Australia's first Paralympic judo gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta.

"This is definitely warranted. He's done some fantastic things not only in his sport of judo but in the community," Dredge said.

"He not only competed successfully as a Paralympian but he also competed against and beat able-bodied athletes. He also has put in so much to the community with helping out teaching kids in judo holds and running table tennis games called Swish at his home. He also loves his music and can be seen busking in the Rundle Mall.''

Clarke, 57, said he was shocked to be included.

"That was such a long time ago so it was a nice surprise to be inducted," Clarke said.

"To win that medal was such a relief, all the hard work and training was worthwhile.

"SASI really helped me a lot back then as did the Government run program at the time called the Ambassadors program where athletes were given the chance to work in government departments and earn a small income.

"That really helped no end with a chance to earn a bit of money and to help with finances."

These days Clarke's main source of income is as a professional speaker. He also loves busking, mainly in Rundle Mall where he keeps passersby entertained.

Schaeffer, 44, enjoyed outstanding success in equestrian. She won a gold medal in eventing at the 1996 Atlanta Games and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2002.

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