New honour for our Petria

Petria Thomas with one of her Olympic gold medals. She has just been named the winner of the prestigious Don Award
Petria Thomas with one of her Olympic gold medals. She has just been named the winner of the prestigious Don Award

It's a year that Mullumbimby flyer, Petria Thomas, won't forget.

Along with her memorable gold medal performances at the Athens Olympic Games, the champion swimmer's year has been capped off by winning the prestigious Australian Sports Hall of Fame's Don Award.

She received the award, named after Sir Donald Bradman, in Melbourne last week.

It puts her in lofty company. Previous winners include Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe.

Petria, who trained at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra for 12 years, said she was proud, but surprised to even have been considered for the award.

She said she was a little overwhelmed to have won the award, particulaely in the company of the other top athletes nominated.

"The award represents what is best about sport in this country and the values I hold dear," she said.

"There are a lot of people who should share this honour with me and I'd like in particular to thank the support staff of the AIS who have put me back together after each of my shoulder operations.

"Knowing I had achieved some great results in my career without having swum that perfect race was what helped me keep going through the pain and putting in the hours to achieve what I did in Athens."

AIS director, Michael Scott, said Petria's legacy to the AIS was not just in her 12 years of training at the institute, but the way she had conducted herself and supported other swimmers.

"She is not just one of the greatest athletes this country has seen, but one of the most admirable people I have been associated with in my time as AIS director," he said.

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