Queensland's greatest 100 sporting heroes: 40-21
QUEENSLAND is a passionate state which bleeds maroon and proudly punches well above our weight in international sporting achievement, producing some of the greatest international sportsmen and sportswomen in history.
The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail and News Regional have compiled the definitive and provocative list ranking Queensland's greatest 100 athletes - including those born and raised in the state as well as imports whose magnificent careers were synonymous with Queensland.
Our 100 Greatest has ignited debate about who really is the No.1 maroon sporting legend of all time and how the achievements of our champions compare across a diverse range of sports.
The countdown continues with 40-21.
40. DAVE NILSSON
837 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, 789 hits, 105 home runs and a .284 career batting average; Olympic silver medal 2004
As big as a block of flats, Nilsson became a giant of the game, beating all the American catchers to be named in the All-Stars in 1999, the best side selected from all 30 Major League Baseball sides. He reckons he was about two years old when, under the coaching of his father Tim, he took his first wobbly steps out onto the grass at Holloway Field in Newmarket and began the long road to the top. Nilsson attended Stafford State School and Kedron High, played for the North Star Club at Zillmere and made his mark for Queensland in the Claxton Shield. He signed for the Brewers in 1987 and played Major Leagues with them from 1992 to 1999. Sammy Sosa, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds were all his opponents during eight fabulous years there. Nilsson became a free agent in the 1999 off-season, but opted not to sign with any MLB teams because he wanted to represent Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, forsaking a multi-million-dollar deal to wear the green and gold. In 2004 he was part of the Australian team that won Olympic silver in Athens.
39. SAM STOSUR
Won US Open 2011, Finalist French Open 2010, World No.1 doubles, No. 4 singles
Born in Brisbane, she started playing tennis in Adelaide in 1992 aged eight after being given a racquet for Christmas. Her family returned to the Gold Coast when Stosur was 11 and she represented Australia at 13, in the World Youth Cup in Indonesia. Her game went to the next level under the coaching of Geoff Masters at the Queensland Academy of Sport. Stosur turned professional in 1999 aged 15 and she was the top-ranked Australian singles player for almost nine years - 452 consecutive weeks, from October 2008 to June 2017. She and American Lisa Raymond formed a strong combination to win the 2005 US and 2006 US doubles titles. At the 2010 French Open, Stosur became the first Australian woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final since fellow Queenslander Wendy Turnbull at the 1980 Australian Open but she was upset by Francesca Schiavone in the final. A year later Stosur, seeded ninth, won in three-sets over German Angelique Kerber to reach her first US Open singles final, where she defeated three-time champion Serena Williams. It was the first Grand Slam singles win by an Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980.
38. BILLY SLATER
319 games for Melbourne Storm, 31 State of Origin matches, 30 Tests
Born in Nambour, Slater played in seven grand finals at fullback with the Melbourne Storm, winning three and twice picking up the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player in the match. He was the 2011 Dally M Medal winner as the best player of the year and the 2008 Golden Boot winner as the world's best footballer. He also twice won the television show Australia's Greatest Athlete, beating competitors from a variety of sports in a series of physical tests. Slater's rugby league career began with Brothers in Innisfail but his passion then was horse racing and he spent six months working as a roustabout for trainer Gai Waterhouse in Sydney. He made his debut for Melbourne Storm in 2003 aged 19 and stayed there for the next 15 years. His first game for Queensland was in 2004 on the wing. His first grand final was in 2006 and a loss to the Broncos but Slater would figure in six more grand finals. By 2008 he was being hailed by many as the best player in the game and he made his national debut at fullback in the Centenary Test against New Zealand.
37. MARK LOANE
89 games for Queensland, 28 Tests
A devastating flanker who could turn his 106kg frame into a human battering ram, Loane often changed games with his sudden bursts of speed and power. The son of a judge, he was born in Ipswich and educated at Gympie Christian Brothers and Nudgee College. Former Wallabies Jules Guerassimoff and Chilla Wilson coached him at Queensland University where he studied to become an ophthalmic surgeon. Wallabies coach Bob Templeton chose him to play against Tonga in 1973 and the following year against the All Blacks. In 1975 he toured Britain and Ireland and then went on Australia's tour of Europe. His first Test as Australian captain in 1979 saw Australia take back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 30 years with the Wallabies winning 12-6 against the All Blacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground. That same year he led Queensland University to their grand final victory over Brothers even though it took 200 minutes of rugby to decide the outcome after the first grand final ended in extra time necessitating a rematch. Loane also captained Australia on some of the 1981-82 Wallabies tour of Britain and Ireland before retiring the following year to concentrate on his medical career.
36. TIM HORAN
80 Tests, 140 points, 2 World Cup victories
One of the best centres ever, he devasted opposition teams with his blistering attack, clever playmaking and bone-rattling defence and his comeback from a shocking knee injury is the stuff of legend. The son of a former Queensland Leader of the Opposition, Horan was born in Sydney and educated at Toowoomba's Downlands College where he was coached in rugby by John Elders, a former coach of England. He formed a strong playing partnership throughout his career with Jason Little after they met as 13-year-olds in a representative rugby league team. He made his Test debut against New Zealand in 1989 and scored his first two tries in his next Test against France. He scored four tries in the Wallabies' 1991 World Cup campaign but his career nearly ended after a shocking knee injury in the 1994 Super 10 final. He limped back into the fray as Australia were bundled out of the '95 World Cup in the quarter-finals. Four years later at the World Cup in Wales he shone against South Africa in the semi-final despite suffering from severe food poisoning the night before. The Australians then crushed France in what was Horan's second World Cup triumph.
35. LEISEL JONES
4 Olympic Games, 3 gold medals, 7 world championships, 10 Commonwealth Games gold
Twice crowned World Swimmer of the Year, Jones won medals at four Olympic Games and won 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals at three meets across eight years. Her swimming career began at Redcliffe's Southern Cross Catholic College and she made her Olympic debut in Sydney at just 15, winning silver in the 100m breaststroke and the 4x100m medley. She swam a personal best in the individual 100m. At Athens four years later she won medals of every colour including gold in the 4x100m medley. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jones won gold again in the 100m breaststroke - finishing a full body length ahead of the silver medallist - and she took another gold in the 4x100m medley as the Australians broke the world record by more than 3sec. She signalled her intentions for the London Olympics by winning the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke at the 2010 Australian Swimming Championships and winning the 100m, 200m and medley at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. At London 2012 she combined with Emily Seebohm, Alicia Coutts and Melanie Schlanger, to win silver in the 4x100-metre medley in her swansong from international competition.
34. JODIE HENRY
3 Olympic gold medals, 5 world championships, 4 Commonwealth Games gold
Henry won the 100m freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics, becoming the first Australian to do it since the great Dawn Fraser in Rome 40 years earlier. She had broken Libby Lenton's world record in the semi-finals. That individual gold was bookended by gold medals in the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley in which she swam freestyle over the last leg. She left Athens with three gold medals and three world records and was named the Australian Swimmer of the Year, becoming just the third woman in 15 years to take the honour after Susie O'Neill and Hayley Lewis. Henry did not take up competitive swimming until 1997 when she was 14 but her progress as a sprinter was rapid and she won five gold medals at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Youth Games that same year. At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in 2002 in Manchester she won another three gold medals as a warm-up to her Olympic heroics. Then there was another hat-trick at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, gold at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and two more gold at the World Championships in the same city the following year.
33. MICHAEL LYNAGH
72 Tests, 911 points
When he finally retired from international rugby in 1995 after 11 years at the top, Lynagh held the world points scoring record. He was a graduate of Brisbane's St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace and played fly-half in the school's First XV from Year 10 to Year 12 (1979-1981). Terrace won the GPS premiership in five consecutive years from 1977 to 1981 with Lynagh playing in the final three years and leading the team in his last year. He also played First XI cricket from Year 9 to Year 12 and was captain in his final year. Lynagh made his debut for Australia on June 9, 1984, as a 20-year-old against Fiji in Suva and while he initially played inside centre he took over from Mark Ella at fly-half when Ella retired after the 1984 Grand Slam. In 1991, Lynagh joined Italian club Benetton Treviso, spending five seasons there during which the team won the Italian championship in the 1991-92. Lynagh was Australia's vice-captain when the Wallabies won the 1991 Rugby World Cup and he bowed out of the game after Australia's loss in the quarter-finals four years later. The following year he joined the English club Saracens.
32. JEFF THOMSON
51 Tests, 200 wickets at avge 28.
Considered by many to be the fastest bowler of all time, he formed one of the most savage opening partnerships in cricket history with Dennis Lillee. A javelin thrower in his youth growing up at Greenacre in Sydney's western suburbs, Thomson developed a unique slinging action off a slow run-up and one of his deliveries was clocked at 160.45km/h, though wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh reckoned ``Thommo'' often bowled faster than that. Batsmen had less than half a second from the time the ball left his hand to see the delivery, decide on a stroke and execute it. Thommo delighted in breaking toes with his yorkers, especially against English batsmen. He made his first-class debut for New South Wales in October 1972 and after just five games was a surprise selection for the second Test against Pakistan. At the invitation of Greg Chappell he moved north to play grade cricket at Toombul and said of his bowling style: "I just roll up and go whang". He and Dennis Lillee terrorised the Englishmen in the summer of 1974-5 giving rise to the rhyme ``Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust, if Thommo don't get ya, Lillee must''.
31. ALLAN LANGER
313 first grade games, 34 Origin Games, 24 Tests
During his remarkable career, ``Alf'' won four Premierships with the Brisbane Broncos, the Dally M player of the Year award, the Clive Churchill Medal and the Rothmans Medal. He was voted the Broncos player of the year a record five times. Born in Ipswich he was the youngest of four sons born to Rita Langer and husband Harry, a railway worker. He worked briefly on the back of a truck delivering whitegoods and also on roadworks but his vocation was always going to be rugby league. He started playing at Ipswich's Northern Suburbs Tigers and at 16 was an Australian schoolboy representative in 1982. Coached at the Ipswich Jets by Tommy Raudonikis, Langer was playing first grade at 17 and four years later was a shock selection in Wayne Bennett's Queensland side. In 1988 he became part of the Broncos' debut year and was their best player for the season. Fourteen years after Langer's Origin debut Bennett brought him back from a stint in England to play Origin again under a cloak of secrecy and he steered Queensland to victory a year after their worst Origin defeat.
30. MICHAEL VOSS
289 games for Brisbane Bears/Brisbane Lions, Brownlow Medal, 3 Premierships
Voss led the Lions throughout their glory days, winning three AFL premierships in a row as skipper (2001-2003). Yet, he won the Brownlow Medal (1998) before all of that. He was the Lions' longest-serving captain, leading them for a full decade. Voss was born in Traralgon, Victoria and lived in Orbost until the age of 11, when he moved with his family to Beenleigh. He made his senior debut for Morningside in the QAFL at 15. At 17 he debuted for the Brisbane Bears against Fitzroy at Princes Park in Melbourne, the youngest player to play a senior game for the club and at the end of the 1996 season, aged 21, Voss shared the Brownlow Medal with Essendon's James Hird. He led the Lions to AFL Premierships, against Essendon in 2001 and Collingwood in 2002 and 2003. In the 2002 grand final he narrowly conceded the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground to opposing skipper and former Bears teammate Nathan Buckley. Port Adelaide ended Brisbane's hopes for a fourth title in the 2004 grand final. Starting in 2009, Voss spent almost five seasons as the Lions coach.
29. IAN HEALY
119 Tests, 366 Test catches, 29 stumpings, 4 centuries
By the time of his retirement in 1999, he held the world record for most Test dismissals by a wicket-keeper and left a lasting legacy with his work ethic and combative approach to the game. Despite breaking all of his fingers during his 13-year first-class career behind the stumps he only ever missed one Test match. Born at Spring Hill in Brisbane, Healy's sporting talent took off aged eight after his family moved 600km north in 1972 to the mining town of Biloela, where Healy's father was a bank manager. Playing against adults while still a youngster improved Healy's cricket and back in the big city he played for the Brisbane State High School team and then joined the Northern Suburbs club in Brisbane's grade competition in 1982. He made his Queensland debut in 1986-87 and after just six State games was chosen for the Australian team to tour Pakistan in late 1988. He took time to fit in but was part of the 4-0 Ashes triumph in England in 1989 and hit this maiden Test century on the subsequent tour four years later, dominating a partnership with Steve Waugh. Three more Test hundreds followed.
28. JASON DAY
World No.1, won 2015 PGA Championship
His first swing of a golf club was with one his dad had found on a tip. Day was born in Beaudesert, the son of a Alvin Day, a meatworker who enrolled him at the Beaudesert Golf Club as a junior member just after his sixth birthday. Alvin died of stomach cancer when Jason was 12 and Jason's mother Dening sent him to the Kooralbyn International School, which had a golf course attached. He studied a book about Tiger Woods and won the Australian Boys' Amateur title in 2004. He turned professional in July 2006 and made the cut in five of his first six PGA Tour events. At the 2011 Masters, Day was tied for the lead on a number of occasions in the final round but although he birdied the last two holes, he came up two strokes short. His 12-under, though, was the lowest score by a Masters debutant. He was runner-up again at the US Open that same year and again in 2013. At Whistling Straits, Wisconsin he won the 2015 PGA Championship, becoming the first player in history to finish at 20-under-par in a major. He was soon ranked world No. 1.
27. GEORGE MOORE
2278 race wins, 2 Cox Plates, 2 Golden Slippers, 3 Sydney Cups, 5 Australian Derbies, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Epsom Derby
Nicknamed 'Cotton Fingers', Moore's trademark was his smooth and crisp control of a horse. He won 119 Group One races but is probably best known in Australia as the jockey on Tulloch for 19 of the Hall of Fame horse's 36 wins. He is the only jockey on the BBC's Overseas Sports Personality of the Year list (1967) and only one of seven Australians in the last 50 years. In 1998 the George Moore Medal was created for the most outstanding jockey competing on Sydney racetracks. Born in Mackay, Moore began his career in racing in 1939 in Brisbane, where he quickly became one of the top apprentice jockeys and where in 1943 he won the Senior Jockeys' Premiership. He then relocated to Sydney and in 1949 went to work for trainer Tommy Smith in what became a long and fruitful partnership. Moore travelled to the United States, where he won the 1950 San Diego Handicap. In 1957 and 1958 he won the Jockeys' Premiership in Sydney then in 1959 rode for Prince Aly Khan in Europe, winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. In 1967, in England, he won the Epsom Derby.
26. ADAM SCOTT
World No.1, won 2013 Masters
The only Australian to win the Masters, Scott was the world's No.1 ranked golfer from mid-May to August 2014. Scott was born in Adelaide but his family moved to the Sunshine Coast and then the Gold Coast when he was 12. He attended The Southport School and then the Kooralbyn International School. He turned professional in 2001 and had immediate success scoring his first professional title that year in the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg. A decade later Scott finished in a tie for second place at the 2011 Masters alongside Australia's Jason Day, two strokes behind the winner Charl Schwartzel. Scott had held the lead while playing the 71st hole, but four birdies in a row from Schwartzel changed everything. At the 2012 Open Championship, Scott equalled the course record for Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club at an Open Championship, shooting a six-under-par round of 64 to lead by one stroke after the first round. In the final round, he had a lead of four shots with four holes to play but was overtaken by Ernie Els. At the 2013 Masters Scott sunk a 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera and create Australian sports history.
25. PAT RAFTER
2 US Open singles titles (1997-98)
Rafter became the No.1 ranked men's singles player in the world on July 26, 1999 after winning back-to-back US Opens. He only held the ranking for a week but it took years of success to get there. He also made consecutive appearances in the final at Wimbledon (in 2000-2001) and won two singles and two doubles ATP Masters titles. He also won the1999 Australian Open men's doubles with Swede Jonas Björkman. Born in Mt Isa, Rafter's career took off in Brisbane where his serve and volley game was moulded on former Wimbledon champ Ashley Cooper's courts at Carseldine. Rafter turned professional in 1991 and spent 10 years on the circuit making at least the semi-finals of the four Grand Slam events. His big breakthrough came in 1997 when he reached the semis of the French Open and then beat Greg Rusedski in a four-set final for the US title. The following year he beat Pete Sampras in a five-set semi-final and then won his second US Open by defeating fellow Aussie Mark Philippoussis in four sets. Rafter lost to Sampras in the final of the 2000 Wimbledon and the following year went down to Goran Ivanišević in a heart-breaking upset. Pat Rafter Arena is Brisbane's premier tennis venue.
24. STEPHANIE RICE
3 Olympic gold medals, 2 Commonwealth Games gold medals
The Brisbane sensation was named World Swimmer of the Year in 2008 for her astonishing performances at the Beijing Olympics, where she won three Olympic gold medals, all in world record time. Her first Olympic gold was in the 400m individual medley in a time of 4:29.45 as she reclaimed the world record from American Katie Hoff. She topped Hoff's best by 1.67 seconds and became the first woman to break the 4:30 mark. Her second gold medal came in the 200m individual medley with a world record time of 2:08.45. Rice edged out Zimbabwe's Kirst Coventry after being neck and neck with her over the last 50 metres. The next day, she won her third gold medal as part of the 4x200-metre freestyle relay team. She led off the team and Australia was in second place at the end of her leg. Rice came to prominence as a 17-year-old at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne where she was the gold medallist in the 200m individual medley, beating Olympians Brooke Hanson and Lara Carroll. She also won the 400-metre individual medley.
23 CAMERON SMITH
384 games, 42 State of Origin matches, 56 Tests
Captain of Queensland and Australia from 2012, Smith grew up in Logan and attended Marsden High. He starred for the Logan Brothers and after impressing for the Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup he moved south to play with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL in 2002. A wiry hooker and ferocious defender, he made his Origin debut in 2003, played his first test in 2006 and was named the Dally M Player of the Year. He led the Storm into the 2006 grand final and in 2007 was named the player of the Origin series. He captained the Storm in their 2007 NRL grand final as they established a great premiership dynasty and he was named Origin's Man of the Series in 2011. In 2012 he led the Storm to another grand final triumph and paved the way for victory in the 2013 World Club Challenge over Leeds. In 2016 Smith was again named the best player in the Origin series and the following year he won the Dally M medal as well as taking the Golden Boot as the world's best player. The Storm beat the Cowboys for the 2017 premiership but were upstaged by the Roosters in the 2018 decider.
22 SALLY PEARSON
Olympic gold and silver, 3 world championships.
In a thrilling race, Pearson edged America's Dawn Harper on the line to break the Olympic record and take gold in the 100m hurdles at London 2012. Born in Sydney, her mother took her to the Gold Coast at the age of eight where the little speedster came under the watchful eye of coach Sharon Hannan. In 2001, aged just 14 she won the Australian Youth 100m and 90m hurdles titles. Two years later she made her international debut winning the 100m hurdles at the 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada. During the 100m hurdles final at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Pearson tripped over a hurdle and fell but she then won silver at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Since winning gold at the London Olympics she has been plagued with injuries but still won gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and, in a stunning performance, took gold at the 2017 World Championships in London. She won the Queensland Sports Star of the Year award in 2012 a year after she and Usain Bolt were declared the IAAF Athletes of the Year. Pearson is the only Australian to ever win the award.
21. DAVID THIELE
2 Olympic gold medals, 1 silver
Now one of Queensland's most respected surgeons and medical administrators, Thiele cut through the water faster than any backstroker of his era, winning the 100m event at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and again at Rome four years later. Coached in Maryborough by Arthur Cusack, he became the boy wonder of Australian swimming as a teenager and at the same time was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Queensland. He deferred his studies to compete at the Melbourne Olympics where he beat Armidale's John Monckton for the gold medal. Four years later Queensland University allowed him to undergo his medical training at Townsville Hospital so he could train at the Australian team's winter training camp there. At Rome Thiele went into the 100m backstroke as an outsider despite being the defending champion but he rose to the occasion and set an Olympic record in pipping the American hope Frank McKinney. He was part of the Australian foursome that took silver in the 4x100m medley. Thiele was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. The University of Queensland pool was renamed in his honour.