Top Sporting Heroes of Wagga Wagga
Apart from being known for its picturesque gardens, parks and rivers, Wagga Wagga is also well known as the "City of Good Sports".
In fact, the phrase the "Wagga Effect" was coined based on the phenomenon that a dis-proportionate number of Australia's elite athletes have come from regional cities, with Wagga Wagga has produced producing a significant number of sporting heroes. Let's take a look at some of these Aussie sporting legends.
Mark Taylor and Michael Slater
Test cricketers Mark Taylor and Michael Slater are known as one of Australia's most successful opening pairs in recent years. Both were born and raised in Wagga Wagga and played junior cricket with the Lake Albert Cricket Club before debuting in test cricket during the early 1990's. They are widely regarded as Wagga Wagga's highest profile athletes.
Joe Williams and Jamie Soward
Currently participating in the world's toughest rugby competition are Joe Williams and Jamie Soward, who are both NRL first graders for South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney City Roosters, respectively. Wagga Wagga has also produced other rugby league legends including Clive Churchill, Peter Sterling and the Mortimer brothers.
Paul Kelly and Wayne Carey
Former Sydney Swans Captain Paul Kelly started his AFL career with the Wagga Wagga Tigers before joining the Swans in 1990. Similarly, Wayne Carey also started his AFL career in Wagga when the joined the North Wagga Saints before going on to join the North Melbourne team. Kelly and Carey are two of the most prominent AFL legends to come from Wagga Wagga.
Athens 2004 Olympic silver medallist Patrick Dwyer started his athletics career with the Kooringal-Wagga Althletic Club. Dwyer specialises in 400m events and won the 2000 Australian 400m title, reached the semi-finals at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and competed in the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in Kuala Lumpur.
Hockeyroo Co-captain Melanie Twitt started her career with the Wagga Wagga U15s and U18s in 1992. A veteran of 172 international hockey matches, this midfielder was a member of the gold medal winning team at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In 2002 and 2004, Twitt was named International Player of the Year.
Former world number 1 and professional tri-athlete Brad Kahlefeldt won the gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne. He was born and raised in Wagga Wagga and was active in a number of different sports before focusing on running and triathlon. His other victories include the Australian Championship and 4 World Cups in 2006.
Some final words
To learn more about Wagga Wagga's proud history in sports and how the city develops and supports their athletes, visit the Sporting Hall of Fame located at the Museum of the Riverina's Botanical Gardens site on Baden Powell Drive. The Sporting Hall of Fame showcases the achievements of 78-home grown athletes who have achieved the highest acclaims in their chosen sports.