Australian Multi-Sport Athletes

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There are few nations that are as passionate about their sport than Australia, and that is highlighted by the fact that a number of previous sporting stars have excelled across a number of different disciplines.

Nowadays, it is rare that we see a single professional athlete competing across a number of different sports, but that hasn’t stopped some stars from showing their hand at a number of transferrable sporting options. But, who are some of the most famous examples of multi-sport Australian athletes?

Can A Player Play Two Sports?

There is no rule to dismiss an athlete from competing professionally in more than one sport. However, it is unlikely that you will see a star excelling at the top level of more than one sport at a given time, as the training would be too intense.

Meanwhile, travelling takes a huge impact on a sports star’s life, meaning that travelling to Queensland to play cricket and then competing in tennis in New South Wales on the following day would be too demanding on the human body. Therefore, we often see multi-sport stars turning their hand to a new sporting interest once they call it a day on their preferred sporting career.

Can Olympians Compete In More Than One Sport?

Like the previous question, it isn’t impossible that you will see the same sporting star competing in a number of different competitions when examining the sports betting markets. However, it remains incredibly improbable. The training to compete for a gold medal in one sport will be taxing enough, before trying to land a victory in a different sport altogether.

However, you often see athletes that excel in one sport typically moving outside of their comfort zone to win medals in events that typically aren’t their preferred distance. That includes swimmers that may compete over 400m as well as 100m, and sprinters that can compete over 100m and 400m. But, success in one event doesn’t typically mean that gold will follow in the other.

Sir Donald Bradman

Sir Donald Bradman was among the first stars to try his hand at two different sports, but success didn’t typically follow in both. The legendary cricket figure is commonly remembered for his performances on the field of play, as he is regarded as one of the greatest batsman in Australian cricketing history.

Many also claim that Bradman is the finest sportsman that Australia has produced. His test batting average was a stunning 99.94, which is considered by many cricketing experts as the biggest achievement by any star in the sport. Bradman was arguably Australia’s first sporting celebrity, as he rose from bush cricket to international test action in just over two years. His younger days in the sport saw a number of records smashed, with his totals for top scoring still ranking among the best to this day.

His greatest achievement came during The Invinsible tour of England in the Ashes Tour following the Second World War. However, following his retirement from cricket, he continued to fulfil lifetime sporting ambitions as he played squash to a high standard, before retiring from sport altogether to take up administrative jobs with Australia Cricket.

Ashleigh Barty

There were few stars that transcended Australian tennis more than Ashleigh Barty throughout this modern generation. She was a superstar in her own right, but she made the unlikely decision to retire from the WTA Tour aged just 25. Barty was at the top her game when she announced her exit from the sport, as she was ranked number one in the world, and had won the Australian Open title just earlier.

Throughout her career, she won 15 singles titles, which included a memorable victory at Wimbledon in 2021, which she remarked as the Grand Slam that she had always dreamed of winning. She was accomplished across all courts, evident from her French Open success in 2019, which was her first Grand Slam victory. Barty set record on the tennis court throughout her career, including the fact that she was ranked number one in the world for a record 114 consecutive weeks.

Barty is one of a number of Australian athletes that is truly remarkable across a number of different sports. She was a respected cricket player during her brief hiatus from tennis between 2014 and 2016, as she played semi-professionally in her local city. Following her retirement, she turned her hand back to playing the sport. As well as cricket, Barty is a highly-talented golfer, evident from her success at Brookwater Golf and Country Club in 2020, where she would also meet her future husband.

Nova Maree Peris

There are few bigger stars in the history of Australian sport than Nova Maree Peris. The superstar would land her first huge success as part of the Australia hockey team at the 1996 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Aboriginal Australia to win an Olympic gold. However, that wasn’t enough for the inspiring sporting superstar, as she would make the career-altering decision to switch sports and compete in track.

That would later turn to immortal success at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In 1998, she won the gold in 200m, finishing the distance in a time of 22.77. Peris would later land the 4 x 100m relay at the same event, later seeing her pick up the award for the Young Australian of the Year. Her dream to win an Olympic gold continued in 2000, but she finished fifth in the 4 x 100m relay team.

Here are some amazing facts about Australian athletes who have excelled in more than one sport professionally:

  • Jana Pittman: Made history by representing Australia in both the summer and winter Olympics. She became the youngest 400m hurdles world champion and successfully defended her World Championships crown just months after giving birth.
  • Ellyse Perry: Known as one of the best female cricketers globally, Perry also excelled in soccer, making 18 appearances for the Matildas and scoring three international goals. She remains a leading cricketer with impressive records in Tests, ODIs, and Twenty20 internationals.
  • Anthony Mundine: A star in rugby league who transitioned to boxing, becoming one of Australia’s most successful fighters with a professional record of 48-10-0.
  • Israel Folau: Folau has had a remarkable career in three different professional sports. He started in rugby league, playing for the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos in the NRL. He then switched to Australian rules football, playing for the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the AFL. Finally, he moved to rugby union, representing the Wallabies in international competitions.
  • Brad Thorn: The only person to represent both the Kangaroos and the All Blacks. Thorn won numerous titles in rugby league with the Broncos and later excelled in rugby union, winning a World Cup with the All Blacks and coaching the Queensland Reds post-retirement.
  • Michael Cleary: Started with a Commonwealth Games bronze in sprinting before moving to rugby, reaching the highest level in both codes.

These athletes showcase exceptional versatility and talent across multiple sports, leaving a lasting impact on Australian sports history.

Conclusion

There has been no shortage of Australian superstars to excel over a number of different sports throughout their careers. All have experienced a mixture of fortunes, but they have been able to play out their dreams in real life to achieve immortal success.

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