International Women’s Day: Celebrating some of Australia’s ground-breaking female athletes

Samantha RogersThe West Australian
Sam Kerr, Ash Barty, Ariarne Titmus and Erin Phillips.
Camera IconSam Kerr, Ash Barty, Ariarne Titmus and Erin Phillips. Credit: The West Australian

Ash Barty

The World No.1 is a national treasure.

Barty cruised to the 2022 Australian Open title like it was a Sunday stroll - claiming a well-deserved $2.88 million in the process.

She is the nation’s fourth highest-paid athlete, earning $17 million in 2021 and her presence atop the female rankings made her the second Indigenous woman to hold the honour, behind her idol Evonne Goolagong.

The Barty Party is only just getting started for 2022.

Sam Kerr

WA’s Sam Kerr wrote herself into the history books in 2022, surpassing Tim Cahill’s previous record of 50 goals to claim the title of all-time leading Australian international scorer.

The Matildas captain and Chelsea striker is also the only female football player to have won the Golden Boot in three different leagues and three different continents - Australia, North America and Europe.

She played AFL until the age of 12 but made the switch to soccer, in large part due to gender restrictions.

Now one of the sports most prolific strikers at 28, Kerr is at the peak of her powers on the international stage.

Australian women’s cricket team

Yeah the girls!
Camera IconYeah the girls! Credit: Mike Owen/Getty Images

There are too many stand-out performers in this team to pick just one.

Currently competing in the ICC 2022 ODI Women’s World Cup, the Aussies have a plethora of established and emerging talent at their disposal.

The names of Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney, Rachael Haynes, Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt are all bonafide stars.

But then you add Alana King, Darcie Brown Annabel Sutherland - not to mention Tahlia McGrath - and you’ve got an XI that are all worthy of a spot on this list.

But if we’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, the reigning Belinda Clark Medal winner Ashleigh Gardner deserves a special mention.

She is a quintessential allrounder, having finished the voting period for the medal inside Australia’s top three run scorers and top five wicket takers across all formats.

AFLW trailblazers

The women’s competition has come on in leaps and bounds since its inaugural season in 2017 and now boasts 14 teams - soon to be 18.

It is bursting at the seams with superstars such as reigning best-and-fairest duo Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) and Brianna Davey (Collingwood) or all-time leading goal-scorer Darcy Vescio and many, many more.

But three come to mind when considering the true trailblazers of the competition in its six-year history.

Adelaide’s Erin Phillips is widely considered one of, if not the best, players to play the women’s game and inspired a generation of female athletes to pick up a Sherrin.

Melbourne’s Daisy Pearce is also a contender for that title and is so universally respected that AFL clubs have come knocking for her services in a coaching capacity, despite still dominating the game at 33.

Her teammate, former Carlton and Brisbane forward Tayla Harris was immortalised in bronze after standing up to internet trolls, who bombarded a photo of her kicking for goal in 2019 with sexist comments, in a watershed moment for the sport.

Jakara Anthony

Gold medalist Jakara Anthony.
Camera IconGold medalist Jakara Anthony. Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Australia’s golden girl of Beijing 2022, Jakara Anthony became the nation’s first Winter Olympics gold medallist in 12 years when she captured the women’s moguls title in dominant fashion.

It marked the first time in Winter Olympics history that Australia had won more than one medal on a single day after Tess Coady claimed bronze in the women’s snowboard slopestyle earlier that day.

She returned to Australia as the only gold medallist from the 2022 Games.

Emma McKeon

McKeon became Australia’s greatest Olympian when she won an incredible seven medals, including four gold, at the Tokyo Olympics, taking her overall tally to 11 Olympic medals, including five gold.

McKeon was also appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2022, having been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2017 following her gold-medal win in Rio.

Ariarne Titmus

Titmus’ gold medal-winning effort was one of the most memorable moments of the Tokyo Olympics.

Her come-from-behind victory in the 200-metre final catapulted her to international recognition and saw her depart the Games with the Olympic record.

Her rivalry in the pool with American legend Katie Ledecky was rich and rewarding viewing for those watching back at home and ended with Titmus claiming the 400m and Ledecky the 800m, a fitting end to one of female sport’s greatest battles.

Ttitmus was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2022.

Jess Fox

The canoeist completed her Olympic sweep in Tokyo this year after finally claiming an elusive gold medal to add to her silver in Rio (2016) and bronze in London (2012).

It was one of the most emotional moments of the Games for Australia, as the eight-time canoe slalom world champion at last got her chance to stand at the top of the Olympic podium.

In the 2022 Australia Day Honours, Fox was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Annabelle McIntyre

After more than 150 years of the sport in the State and a history bulging with champions, Annabelle McIntyre became the first WA rower to claim an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.

She achieved the feat alongside women’s four teammates Lucy Stephan, Rosemary Popa and Jessica Morrison in the 2020 Olympic Games.

In the 2022 Australia Day Honours, McIntyre was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails