Basketball dignitaries have featured in the 2018 Australia Day Honours with Michele Timms earning a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) while four other icons were honoured with Medals of the Order of Australia (OAM).
For significant service to basketball as a competitor at a national and international level as an athlete and mentor in women’s sport, Timms can now add an AM to her incredible list of achievements.
Playing 285 games in the WNBL, Timms won five Championships (1986-89, 1992) and was named in the All-WNBL team seven times (1988-92, 94, 96) during her playing days with Bulleen, Nunawading, Perth and Sydney and she was a trailblazer on the international scene too, becoming the first Australian basketballer to play overseas as a professional when she signed with German club Lotus Muchen in 1989.
Timms also had a distinguished career in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury, retiring as the club’s assist leader and her number 7 jersey became the first ever retired by the club in 2002.
The point guard represented Australia in 264 international games, debuting at the 1986 World Championships before going on to play at the 1990, ’94 and ’98 World Champs where she won a bronze medal.
Her first Olympic campaign was in 1992 and she was then a part of the historic 1996 Opals team, the first Australian national side to win a medal when they defeated Ukraine in the bronze medal game.
The guard led Australia in scoring for the tournament with 15 points per game and finished seventh overall in steals with more than two per game in a dominant all-around performance.
Four years later, she moved into the captain’s role and led the Opals to their best ever result in front of a home crowd, winning the silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in what proved to be her swan song to the international game.
Her connection to basketball has not ceased though, having worked as an assistant coach with Bulleen in the WNBL as well as with the Chinese national women’s team.
In addition to her AM, Timms has been honoured with induction to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016, Australian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 before being named a legend in 2016, was awarded the International Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996 and the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
The 2018 OAM recipients included Mary Browner who was honoured for her service to the community through social welfare organisations.
As well as being the founding president of the Western Australia Police Widows’ Guild, Browner was a board member of Basketball WA’s Junior Basketball Association from 1970-1990 and remains an active part of the Basketball WA Wheelchair Basketball Association.
For over 48 years, Beth Serle has helped improve Basketball SA as a volunteer and her tireless efforts have been rewarded with an OAM for services to basketball.
Beginning as a volunteer in 1969 with Mount Gambier, Serle then served as honourary secretary of Basketball SA Country from 1973-89 and Vice-President since 1989 before being named a Life Member of both organisations in 1976 and 1989 respectively.
She was the Administration Manager of the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup between 1986-2016, earning the Basketball SA Merit Award and Basketball SA Country Bob Sanderson Award.
Serle’s recognition also extended to receiving an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, named the State and National Administrator of the Year by Basketball Australia in 20004 before being named the city of Mount Gambier’s Citizen of the Year in 2006.
Also from SA, David Wark was rewarded for his service to sport and to the community of South Australia.
A big name in the SA National Football League, Wark was also a dedicated member in basketball as Vice-President of Basketball SA from 1994-2000 and as a board member from 1985-2000 while he was also honoured with Life Membership in 1996.
Ron Burgess, one of Victoria’s greatest basketball contributors and administrators for over 60 years, rounds out the OAM recipients for his services to basketball.
Since playing his first game in 1950, Burgess has worked at nearly every level of basketball administration from domestic refereeing to officiating the NBL Grand Final while also commisioning State Championships.
Volunteering for decades, Burgess contributed to the growth of basketball in Victoria and specifically in Dandenong where he served as President of the Dandenong Basketball Association (DBA) from 1979-1983 and he now holds Life Membership with DBA, Victorian Basketball Referees Association, the Olympic Amateur Basketball League and Basketball Victoria.