Golden salute for Tamworth athletes

A schoolboy sprinter who went on to be a bobsledder and two Paralympians are among the 14 elite athletes who will be honoured with a golden wall of fame at a special ceremony in Tamworth next week.

The 14 homegrown heroes will be the first inductions into the Olympic honour board in Peel St as a civic salute to our greatest sportsmen.

Most of the legwork for the Olympic legacy has been driven by former teacher and sports coach Ron Surtees, who first dreamed up the idea when he went to Sydney for the 2000 Games as a volunteer.

The athletes – 10 men and four women – represent Olympians from Melbourne in 1956 to last year’s London games and between them they have seven medals.

The least-known of the famous Tamworth family is former Tamworth High School hurdler and vice-captain Duncan Harvey – who went on to emulate that famous film foursome who went from the Jamaican sprint fields to the icy climbs of the feel good Cool Runnings movie.

Harvey made his Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010, the only one of the Tamworth team so far to represent at a winter games.

He is on the shortlist to go to Russia for the next winter Olympics, according to Surtees. 

Two of the athletes who have qualified for the strict civic honour board team are paralympians, including Adrian King, a former Thunderbolt player who went on to win both a gold medal and a silver in the wheelchair basketball for the green-and-golds in Beijing in 2008 and in Athens in 2004.

The other is former Oxley High student Nicole Davey who was in the Aussie team for the Paralympic Games in Sydney 2000.

A man who was a mentor for scores of Thunderbolt kids back in the day, Patrick Hunt, who served as an assistant coach for the Boomers at Barcelona, is also honoured with a fame plaque.

They join the more high profile Olympians in hockey players Michael York, Matthew Smith, Kim Small and Kate Jenner, shooting brothers Clive and George Barton, softballer Stacey Porter and water polo players Nathan Thomas and Craig Miller, who went to Sydney and Athens with the Aussie sides.

The veteran of the side is the first Olympian the city had ever seen, when the Games first came to Australia. Former television executive, honoured community and charity worker and citizen award winner Mike Moroney was the first chosen for the team.

Moroney was at Melbourne in 1956 as a long jumper.

Tamworth Regional Council has planned a gala celebration to pay tribute to their hometown stars on Friday with an unveiling of the Tamworth Regional Olympian Honour Wall. It is on from 10.30am in the forecourt of Ray Walsh House and 24 plaques are set to be unveiled – with six of the 14 Olympians honoured as multiple Games reps.

famous film foursome who went from the Jamaican sprint fields to the icy climes in the feelgood Cool Runnings movie.

Harvey made his Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010, the only one of the Tamworth team so far to represent at a winter Games.

He is on the shortlist to go to Russia for the next winter Olympics, according to Mr Surtees. 

Two of the athletes who have qualified for the strict civic honour board team are Paralympians, including Adrian King, a former Thunderbolts player who went on to win a gold and a silver in the wheelchair basketball for the green-and-golds in Beijing in 2008 and in Athens in 2004.

The other is former Oxley High student Nicole Davey, who was in the Aussie team for the Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000.

A man who was a mentor for scores of Thunderbolts kids back in the day, Patrick Hunt, who served as an assistant coach for the Boomers at Barcelona, is also honoured with a fame plaque. They join the more high-profile Olympians in hockey players Michael York, Matthew Smith, Kim Small and Kate Jenner, shooting brothers Clive and George Barton, softballer Stacey Porter and water polo players Nathan Thomas and Craig Miller, who went to Sydney and Athens with the Aussie sides.

The veteran of the side is the city’s first Olympian, from when the Games first came to Australia. Former television executive, honoured community and charity worker and citizen award winner Mike Moroney was the first chosen for the team. Mr Moroney was at Melbourne in 1956 as a long jumper.

Tamworth Regional Council has planned a gala celebration to pay tribute to our hometown stars on Friday, with an unveiling of the Tamworth Regional Olympian Honour Wall. It is on from 10.30am in the forecourt of Ray Walsh House and 24 plaques are set to be unveiled – with six of the 14 Olympians honoured as multiple Games representatives.

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