If you are going to ask the very difficult question: “Who is the most famous Australian athlete of all time?” I have to take it as one of the most confusing one to be answered. But we have to accept the term as the most interesting topic too!! So if we are here trying to answer the question and find some top list of famous Australian athletes of all time, we need to be very clear about one thing that we need to base upon some generalized criteria. First we have to understand some of the basic facts why we call them as the famous Australian Athletes of all time or why they are being considered as the greatest Australian athletes of all time.
Basically, most of the time we consider the accomplishment of these famous athletes in their particular sports. This may include their titles won (Olympic medals and other major world titles). Sometimes these are their records or rankings in their total sport life statistics. As a matter of fact we find them considerable for achieving awards through their short or big sport life (length of their sports career).
Top 10 Famous Australian Athletes:
Now, here we are determined to take action on some of these famous Australian athletes, so that we can make a short list of top 10 greatest Australian athletes in a single article. I hope the selection criteria is clear to you.
So, let’s check out, who is the most famous Australian athlete of all time?
10. Mark Ella – Rugby (American Football)
Mark Gordon Ella is an Australian former rugby union player. Undoubtedly he should be considered as one of the most famous Australian athletes of all time, especially in the sport of Rugby. Though he had his career in a relatively short form, he successfully got his mark in the all-time great athletes in Australia.
The great rookie half-back Nick Farr-Jones asked once (probably sometimes before the 1984 Grand Slam tour) to Mark Ella: “Where do you want me to pass the ball?” And can guess, what was the reply from the famous Australian athlete?
– “Just throw it, I’ll catch it”
I think this was the spirit that enforced him throughout his sporting career. He is the most instinctive and intuitive footballer of any code Australian fans have ever seen. Sometimes he couldn’t even remember what he did in the game.
He played only 25 Tests and retired at 25. Most obviously this was a huge loss to the 15-man code when he was at the peak of his career. There’s never been anyone since who could remotely match him in the Rugby history of Australia.
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09. Peter Thomson – Golf
Peter William Thomson is an Australian professional golfer. Probably he is best remembered for his five wins in The Open Championship. It was like Peter Thomson either won, or finished second in seven successive British Opens. And now history confirms that no golfer has ever come anywhere near that record of Thomson.
Thomson won in 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1958 and came second to Bobby Locke in 1952. He won his fifth British Open in 1965 among his 82 tournament victories. Peter has kept in close contact with his sport as a world-class golf course designer. He is our 9th pick as the most famous Australian athletes of all time.
08. Betty Cuthbert – Athletics
Elizabeth Cuthbert (commonly known as Betty Cuthbert) is an Australian athlete as well as a fourfold Olympic champion. She successfully set world records for 60 meters, 100 yards, 200 meters, 220 yards and 440 yards during her glorious career.
At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, may be no one could ever forget the “Golden Girl” with hair flowing and powering her way to three gold medals. Eight years later, she won the fourth gold at Tokyo in 1964 in the 400, which was an inaugural event at those Games at that time. During the course of her wonderful career, the 8th of our most famous Australian athletes of all-time list, broke and made all the new records possible in the field of athletics.
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07. Ken Rosewall – Tennis
Kenneth Robert Rosewall is a former world top-ranked amateur and professional tennis player. And our 7th pick as the greatest Australian athletes of all time. He is without peer in the history of tennis for his life long career. He won his first Australian singles title in 1953 and his fourth in 1972. Unbelievable but truth is the year count of 19 years.
Ken Rosewall won his first French in 1953, second in 1968, another successive story of 15 years apart. As well we can recommend the case study of US open. First in 1956, second in 1970, 14 years apart. He never won Wimbledon but reached four finals. Rosewall missed 44 Slam tournaments during his early career, which resembles like another famous Australian athlete Rod Laver.
06. Dawn Fraser – Athletics
Dawn Fraser is an Australian champion swimmer as well as former politician. Fraser is one of the three swimmers to have won the same Olympic event three times. This famous Australian athlete won the 100 meters freestyle three times in 1956, 1960, and 1964. Though many of her fans expected it to be five.
In Tokyo 1964 the Australian Swimming Union banned Dawn Fraser for 10 years for nicking the flag from the Palace. Unfortunately she didn’t do it. And the ASU got it right in sometimes. But it was too late to start again. Probably no one had a doubt on her to win the other two completions in Mexico 1968, and Munich 1972. Which could become the sole record of five successive golds in the same event. Still, she is one of Australia’s greatest swimmer in unforgettable history.
05. Heather McKay – Squash
Heather Pamela McKay is an Australian squash player. She is considered by many to be the greatest female player in the history of Squash. And possible one of Australia’s greatest-ever Athletes of all time. McKay won 16 consecutive British Open championships between 1962 and 1977. This record is undoubtedly the most coveted title in Squash.
In over 20 years of international competition Heather lost twice to Yvonne West in 1960, and Fran Marshall in 1962. Again squash wasn’t her only claim to fame. She got to be representing Australia at hockey in 1967 and 1971. She helped to win the American and Canadian Racquetball championships. She is at 5th position in this list of top 10 most famous Australian athletes of all time.
04. Margaret Court – Tennis
Margaret Court (known as Margaret Smith Court) is a retired world No. 1 professional tennis player from Australia. She won a record 62 Slam titles between 1960 as a 17-year-old and 1975 with 24 singles including the Grand Slam in 1970.
She also got 19 women’s doubles, and 19 mixed doubles in her very glorious sporting career. To further emphasis her dominance, Margaret Court won every possible title at all four Slams. Which can be matched only by Doris Hart and Martina Navratilova in history. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest and famous most Australian athletes of all time. Now you can decide whether to put her on 4th position or not as the most famous female Australian Tennis player ever.
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03. Rod Laver – Tennis
Rodney George is an Australian former professional tennis player. Undoubtedly he holds the record for most singles titles won in the history of tennis in the world, which is actually 200 career titles!! Rod Laver is the only tennis player in history to win two Grand Slam singles titles. He won the first in 1962 as an amateur and the second in 1969 as a pro Tennis player.
Rod Laver won 11 Slam singles, but he was a pro when the rest of the world were amateurs. That made the famous Australian athlete of all time ineligible for 20 Slams. He was such a dominant figure that he had been eligible his Slam singles would be at least 21. For now a time we can compare with our present heroes like Roger Federer on 16 won’t get anywhere near 21 Slams like him.
02. Herb Elliott – Athletics
Herbert James (commonly known as Herb) Elliott is a former Australian athlete. He is considered as one of the greatest middle distance runners in the whole world. The magnificent athlete was a pure powerful poetry in motion on the track on his time. Unbeaten over the mile and 1500 meters throughout his stellar career.
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, he got to smash his own world record 30 meters, which is still the widest margin ever in the event. Being one of the most famous Australian athletes of all time, Herb retired after Rome at 23 and said proudly that he had nothing more to prove.
01. Don Bradman – Cricket
Sir Donald George Bradman (most often referred to as “The Don”) is an Australian cricket legend. And he is also widely acknowledged as the greatest Test batsman of all time Cricket. No one can put an argument when selecting this number one position in the list of top 10 most famous Australian athletes of all time for The Don.
Bradman averaged over 60% higher than the next best Test batsmen in the history of the game. Australia, especially Australian Cricket will never remember this greatest athlete ever in their land. Probably, he is considered the greatest batsman, the greatest Cricketer and most obviously the most famous Australian athlete in history.