For the past two years we have raised on the show and on this website the fact that the Western Australian Institute Hall of Fame Committee is out of kilter with the modern sporting landscape in Perth, yet our comments continue to fall on deaf ears. However they may have upset a few people as this year we were not invited to attend the prestigious event.
This year’s inductees are gymnast Alana Slater, WA Reinsman Chris Lewis and Australian Rules Footballer Denis Marshall.
Slater is a worthy recipient of this honour, having attended two Olympics, been national champion on three occasions and was the first West Australian to place in the top three at a World Championships. She also did a great deal to raise the profile of gymnastics in Western Australia and inspire the next generation of Lauren Mitchell and Emily Little.
Chris Lewis has been in Harness Racing for half a lifetime and again his recognition is deserved. Chris is the only Western Australian to won two Inter Dominions after the success of Carclew in 1976 and Village Kid in 1986. He started in the sport back in the 1970’s and has won eight Perth Driver’s Premierships and has an unprecedented 27 successive Top Five finishes on the Perth Premiership between the 1983/84 and 2009/10.
He has won a total of 14 State Drivers Premierships surpassing the previous record of 13 and is the only Western Australian to win at Group One level in each of the five mainland States in Australia. He also represented Australia at this year’s World Driver’s Championship in the USA.
The third inductee, Denis Marshall is also undoubtedly a worthy recipient as you do not get to be voted one of the three best players of the century at any club without being special, and he was afforded that honour at Geelong. He was also runner up in the Brownlow medal.
However, to have a player from a sport only played in Australia elected to the Hall of Champions virtually every year is showing that those on the panel making these decisions are not moving with the times.
Australian Rules football will now have after the presentations tonight 25 athletes in the Hall of Champions. Only four sports have more than ten past players in the Hall of Champions, Hockey with 21 Cricket with 13 and Athletics 10. Alana Slater will become the first Gymnast to make the roll of Honour while Chris Lewis will join three other Harness racers. This means that a further 21 sporting categories share 56 places in the Hall of Champions, which hopefully highlights an unbelievable imbalance.