Australian Sports Medal Presentation Ceremony for the 2022 Australian Commonwealth Games Team, Government House
This is Ngunnawal Country. Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders.
Welcome, Team Australia — our all-conquering Team Australia!
I think you all deserve a round of applause.
When I say all, I truly mean all — athletes, coaches, sports officials, medical and support staff, administrative staff, and families — each and every one of you played an important role in Australia’s success at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Linda and I are delighted to welcome you all here to Yarralumla — to take time out from training and commitments and day-jobs to celebrate your achievements and present the Australian Sports Medal.
Anyone who has heard me speak in recent years will know the importance I attach to taking time out to celebrate achievement.
It is critically important, particularly in light of the challenges you faced in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games.
You trained through the pandemic and overcame the many challenges, frustrations and obstacles.
You dug deep, you persevered and you prevailed.
You also made a nation proud and, I have no doubt, inspired the next generation of elite athletes.
Today, that contribution will be recognised with an Australian Sports Medal.
Most Australians will have heard of gold, silver and bronze medals in a sporting context but very few I suspect will have heard of an Australian Sports Medal.
The medal is a relatively new form of sporting recognition, having been introduced for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In December 2020, amendments were made to the medal criteria that mean it is now awarded to commemorate Australian sporting participation in more multi-sports events. That is a step in the right direction and speaks to important values such as inclusion and respect.
The Australian Sports Medal is an honour that recognises the efforts of a range of Australians, including former competitors, coaches, sports scientists, office holders and those who maintained sporting facilities and services.
As you know Linda and I had the honour of attending the Games in Birmingham.
Since we arrived back in Australia we’ve been asked on several occasions about our Games experience and if we had any favourite memories.
As Governor-General I have to be somewhat careful when I answer ‘favourite-type’ questions as it is best not be seen to favour, in this instance, one person, performance, event or moment.
But … let me say this: for Linda and me to be present at the announcement of the Australian Flag Bearers for the Opening Ceremony was one of many high points.
In that moment — when Rachael Grinham and Eddie Ockenden were announced as the Flag Bearers — I experienced firsthand (and Linda will agree with me, I’m sure) a tightness, a bond, a spirit that was a hallmark of the Australian Team in Birmingham.
That spirit was a privilege to experience and I know played a key role in Australia’s success.
For the record, Australia topped the medal tally winning a total of 178 medals — 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze medals — the most successful team at the Games.
Beneath the medal tally board — countless performances that will have impacted positively on Australians all around the world in many ways.
The power of sport to unite, uplift and inspire never ceases to amaze. All of you were part of that special period in our history.
For mine, it was gold medals all round to all who were part of the 2022 Australian Commonwealth Games Team.
To the 33 recipients of the Australian Sports Medal: today is your day. We celebrate your achievement.
In closing, I particularly want to acknowledge the support provided to the medal recipients — indeed to all members of the Australian Commonwealth Games Team — by families and friends.
As we all know, our Team members could not do what they do without the love and support of family. They, too, share in the successes being celebrated today.
Well done, all, and enjoy this moment.