Australian sporting icons Dennis Lillee and Ian Thorpe were already legends but that is now official after both were elevated to Legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Olympic great Thorpe declared it an “honour and a privilege” to be included among the elite in Australian sporting history after he and cricketing great Lillee joined 42 others in the legendary company.
Nearly three decades after a knee injury forced a premature end to Lillee’s career in 1984, the man who terrorised international batting attacks as he took what was then a record 355 Test wickets said he couldn’t have achieved anything without his teammates.
“You couldn’t do it without them. We had some great teams during my career, but more than anything, they were all great blokes,” he said.
“They were like family.”
Lillee, regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time, was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.
Thorpe, the most successful Australian male Olympian in history, with a haul of five gold medals, was inducted into SAHOF in 2008.
In nine years of competitive swimming at every distance from 100m to 800m, Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals, nine Commonwealth golds, 13 world championships and set 23 world records, making him one of Australia’s most successful athletes of all time.
Thorpe’s work out of the pool gave him a voice on numerous social issues as he used his profile to raise awareness on depression and equality among other endeavours post his epic swimming career.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of a group of people who have shaped the Australian sporting and cultural identity around the world,” Thorpe said.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame chair John Bertrand said their sporting feats were extraordinary.
“The recognition of Legend status provides the opportunity to share their extraordinary story and inspire a whole new generation of Australians,” said Bertrand, also a SAHOF Legend.
Sport Australia Hall of Fame members must be retired for 15 years before being considered for elevation to Legend of Australian Sport status. The 44 legends feature our nation’s biggest sporting names and champions, including Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Sir Donald Bradman, Dawn Fraser, Bart Cummings and Greg Norman.