Co-captain of the Australian Boomers and Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic flag bearer, Patty Mills was awarded the highest of sporting honours, The Don Award, at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame last night.
Named after the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s first inductee, Sir Donald Bradman AC, The Don Award recognises an athlete or a team who through their sporting performance and example over the year has most inspired the nation.
With a plethora of incredible nominations this year, the Hall of Fame selection committee had the difficult task of narrowing the list to just one but felt that Mills’ inspiring acts of leadership on and off the court, determination and skill that contributed to securing a historical bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, most inspired the nation.
In announcing Mills’ award, John Bradman, son of Sir Donald, said his father was a greater believer in the idea that one of sport’s finest qualities was its power to inspire and Mills embodies that.
“He’s not just a champion player, he’s a champion person, a leader, a star on and off the court, and most of all an inspiration to all of us,” John said.
At his home away from home, the USA, Mills gratefully accepted the award.
“I never set out to win awards like this. I go about my craft as a professional and learn ways to get better, trying to carry myself in a way that I think can inspire others. The honour isn’t necessarily about me, it’s about the impact on unity, identity, being proud of who you are and expressing that passionately.” Mills said.
“Being recognised in this way to me isn’t about who I sit alongside, it’s about how I can inspire others with my journey.”
Mills was awarded alongside tennis and Sport Australia Hall of Fame legend, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley AC MBE, who received the inaugural The Dawn Award named after Dawn Fraser AC MBE.
Previous winners of The Don Award have included Ash Barty, the Australian Women’s T20 Cricket Team, Catherine Freeman OAM, Jeff Horn, Michelle Payne OAM, Kurt Fearnley AO and Cadel Evans AM.
Congratulations to @Patty_Mills who has been awarded the 2021 The Don Award following his inspiring leadership performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, where the Boomers secured their first Olympic medal.
— Sport Australia Hall of Fame (@sportaushof) December 2, 2021