Five WAIS Themes that Inspired us in 2018

WAIS | Published: Wed 19 December 2018

With 2018 drawing to a close and a new year fast approaching, we’ve taken a quick look back at five key themes that defined the year through the WA Institute of Sport.


There was plenty to chew through as well, with a home Commonwealth Games, multiple world championships and plenty of impressive domestic performances whetting the appetite.


Reckon we’ve missed any out? Let us know what would make your Christmas Crackers hit-list for 2018 on our @InsideWAIS handle via your favourite social media platform.


#1 – Gold Coast Commonwealth Games


The Commonwealth Games provided so many magical moments in 2018 

The Gold Coast put on a show for sports fans in April with the city playing host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. They were the first Games on Australian soil since Melbourne back in 2006.


Western Australia produced 31 members of the Australian team, with all but one of those members getting the opportunity to compete on the big stage. In an impressive series of results, 20 WA members returned home with medals – including multiple medal performances from Madison de Rozario, Sam Welsford and Brianna Throssell.


Whilst it’s impossible to single out one effort over another, some of the key performances included;

  • Sam Welsford winning gold – in world record time – as part of the Australian men’s team pursuit
  • Cameron Meyer defying the odds to win an individual time-trial gold medal on the road, off a limited preparation after he’d surprisingly missed out in the men’s points race on the track.
  • Five WA athletes (Aran Zalewski, Trent Mitton, Jake Harvie, Tyler Lovell, Tom Wickham) helped the Kookaburras to another Commonwealth Games gold medal as they farewelled favourite son Mark Knowles in style
  • Madison de Rozario winning a second individual gold medal with a dominant performance in the women’s wheelchair marathon
  • Nina Kennedy fetching bronze in the women’s pole vault final and enjoying an emotional lap of honour in front of a packed house at Carrara Stadium
  • 15 year-old Rhiannon Clarke winning a brilliant silver medal in the T38 100m on debut
  • Brianna Throssell snaring gold in the women’s 4x200 freestyle relay after she’d missed out on the 4x100 team by a whisker
  • Caitlin Bassett and Courtney Bruce – despite the heartbreak of defeat – playing in one of the all-time great gold medal finals in the netball


#2 – Belinda Stowell recognised as one of the greats!

Belinda Stowell became a WA Hall of Champions member 

Whilst we’ve known it for years, WAIS sailing coach Belinda Stowell was officially honoured as a great of Western Australian sport when she received induction into the WA Hall of Champions.


The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games gold medallist became just the second WA sailor to earn the honour after the great Rolly Tasker.


Stowell’s sporting career would rival that of any athlete in this state and her legacy to sport – particularly through her passion for sailing – continues to be well served through her work with WA’s emerging sailors through the WA Institute of Sport.


She is a treasure!


#3 – Magical Meyer makes it rainbow number nine

A ninth career title further reinforced Cameron Meyer's status as a modern great of track cycling 

Cameron Meyer has achieved so much for someone so young that his achievements are almost taken for granted by those who don’t see how much effort he puts into making them happen.


At the 2018 Track World Championships in the Netherlands, Meyer won an incredible ninth career rainbow jersey in his prized points race event. It was the fifth time he’d won the event and in typical fashion, it came in dominant Meyer style. A combination of tactical nous and pure endurance excellence.


He also collected a bronze medal in the Madison, competing in tandem with Australian teammate Callum Scotson, and with the Madison returning to the Olympic track cycling program of events for Tokyo 2020, don’t rule out Meyer adding an Olympic medal to his impressive career resume before he’s done with the sport.


Before then however, he will continue to divide his time between track and road as he continues to forge a career that marks him as one of the best cyclists this state has seen.


#4 – A time to say goodbye

A fitting farewell for two great WAIS athletes 

Two highly respected, long-term scholarship talents at WAIS called time on their sporting careers in 2018 with dual Paralympic wheelchair basketball medallist Clare Nott and Olympic sprint kayaker Steve Bird announcing their retirement from sport.


Both had been regular members of their respective national teams, with Nott winning medals at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, whilst Bird made finals in both London 2012 and Rio 2016 in addition to a volume of national championship titles.


They were both panel members of an Athlete QandA at the 2018 WAIS Awards in November, sharing stories, insights and reflections along with pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall. Whilst their stories were individual and unique, they both shared a common theme of making the decision to end their representative careers on their own terms.


Clare penned an excellent blog exploring the theme of retirement which can be viewed here.


#5 – Wearn wins top award

Matt Wearn receives his prize from the Minister for Sport the Hon. Mick Murray MLA 

The WAIS Athlete of the Year award always attracts an excellent spread of challengers from year to year, but is quite possible that 2018 was the hardest year to determine in recent memory.


From field of nine nominations, such was the excellence of the performances that seven were viewed as finalists for the prize.


Cameron Meyer’s performances in 2018 are reflected in appreciation above, but Sam Welsford’s achievements too deserve great plaudits. A world record at the Commonwealth Games, was followed by a win in the Scratch Race that barely seemed possible. He set times in the final lap that rivalled those capable of a specialist sprinter. The win, was one for the ages.


David Watts stroked the Australian men’s quad scull crew to a silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Bulgaria and the crew now possess the quality to deliver a world class performance in an Olympic class event. He is one of the elder statesmen of Australian rowing and has built a formidable list of representative feats.


Aran Zalewski is another who would have been a worthy winner, after he added an individual Tournament MVP award to the Champions Trophy title he captained the Kookaburras to in the Netherlands. This followed a gold medal at April’s Commonwealth Games.


Shaun Norris captained the Australian Rollers to a bronze medal at the World Championships in Germany and in doing so, he once again proved that he is one of the very best proponents of his craft in the world. This is a status he’s held for close to two decades and he shows no signs of slowing down ahead of a fifth potential Paralympic Games.


Aaron Younger was the tournament MVP at the World Cup in Germany as the Australian Sharks team that he skippered made history by winning silver, which represented the nation’s best ever result at that level in men’s water polo.


It was however, Matt Wearn who received the title of WAIS Athlete of the Year after he completed an incredible season of competition to medal at every single major regatta he contested, which included silver at the World Championships in Denmark. He took silver at the Tokyo Test event and won gold at the European Championships, in addition to medalling regularly in world cup competition – marking an excellent year.


In achieving his peak result in an Olympic class event, at the highest competition standard outside of the Olympic Games, selectors deemed that his peak performance ranked higher than those achieved at Commonwealth Games or similarly field restricted – or lower classification – international competitions.


At 23 years of age, Wearn is held in the highest regard. Not only for his sailing ability, but through his conduct and engagement at all levels of high performance.


Honourable notes:


  • WA’s representatives who represented the country with such aplomb at the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Korea.
  • The many outstanding performances in Junior World Championship competition that WA’s best and brightest produced in 2018.
  • The highly productive Talent ID day hosted at WAIS that helped unearth future high performance cyclists, canoeists and rowers.
  • The multiple WA athletes who earned progression as graduates into national team programs.
  • The numerous outstanding PhD and Honours projects supported through the WA High Performance Sport Research Centre.

 Here’s looking ahead to an equally impressive and inspiring 2019!