The Clarence Valley Sport Power 10 for 2018.
The Clarence Valley Sport Power 10 for 2018. The Daily Examiner

SPORT POWER 10: Clarence Valley's top sports people

FIRST we had the Power 30 for the Most Influential People in the Clarence Valley. Now it's time to reveal the Sport Power 10 - the top sports people from our region judged by The Daily Examiner's sports desk to have wielded the most influence in the global sporting arena in 2018.

10. TONY MUNDINE

BORN in the indigenous community of Baryulgil, Tony Mundine first garnered attention on the league field.

 

Former Aboriginal world boxing champion Tony Mundine at the launch of a sport-specific Cross Cultural Awareness package. The initiative is designed to assist sport clubs and associations improve their understanding of Indigenous Australians.
Former Aboriginal world boxing champion Tony Mundine at the launch of a sport-specific Cross Cultural Awareness package. The initiative is designed to assist sport clubs and associations improve their understanding of Indigenous Australians. JULIAN SMITH

But it was inside the squared circle where he would become a boxing icon.

Fighting out of Sydney's inner-west, Mundine quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the country's most accomplished indigenous sports stars.

He fought in 96 bouts, winning an incredible 80 times. He is also the only Australian boxer to compete professionally in four divisions.

He then raised and trained his son, Australia's most successful boxer, Anthony 'Choc' Mundine, who has enjoyed a storied and divisive career in Australian boxing.

Not only a champion in the ring, Tony Mundine has also fought hard for his culture and community outside the ring.

Through The Gym at Redfern he kept generations of young indigenous kids off the streets and out of a life of crime. Nor did he ever forget his roots, and fought for recognition of Baryulgil and the plight of the people living there.

9. KARA SUTHERLAND

WHILE women's cricket has exploded to the forefront of the game, thanks to the WBBL and the Australian Southern Stars, when Clarence cricketer Kara Sutherland was growing up it was little more than a pipe dream.

 

Former Grafton cricketer Kara Sutherland bowling her left-arm medium pacers for the Queensland Fire.
Former Grafton cricketer Kara Sutherland bowling her left-arm medium pacers for the Queensland Fire. Matt Roberts - CA

The left-arm seamer had to fight for her place on the playing field, even lamenting a lack of girls sides representing local schools.

But despite the lack of opportunity, Sutherland managed to make her sporting dreams come true, earning caps with the NSW Breakers, Queensland Fire and their respective WBBL franchises.

She also earned a chance to impress on the international stage, making it into the Southern Stars training squad.

Sutherland was a trailblazer, with several top class cricketers including Carly Leeson and Amy Riddell following in her wake.

She has also dedicated her time to the game and regional communities, including her former home town, in an effort to get even more young girls to pick up the leather and willow.

8. DANNY WICKS

HIS is the story of redemption that has inspired many kids to not give up on their dreams, no matter how far-fetched.

 

Captain/coach of the Grafton Ghosts Danny Wicks.
Captain/coach of the Grafton Ghosts Danny Wicks. Adam Hourigan

A man who freely admits he made an error that cost him his career, and the respect of his community, Wicks rebuilt it all from the ground up after being released from prison in 2013.

Having walked out of his contract with Newcastle Knights, to stop taking away from the club, it seemed his NRL career was over.

That was to everyone, but the man himself.

Wicks was thrown a lifeline by Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, but he had to work for it. The former Ghosts junior scratched and clawed his way back to the top, instilling a new sense of hope in everyone whose life has taken a wrong turn or two.

Now after returning home, Wicks has taken up the role of captain-coach at the Ghosts, forging new bonds between the club's junior and senior ranks. He also picked up a Clayton's Cup as captain-coach. The third time for the club.

7. MORGAN PILLEY

MORGAN Pilley is the ultimate athlete.

 

Yamba's Morgan Pilley, who bases himself in Italy riding enduarnce mountain-bike events - is preparing for a 24 hour ride around the Junction Hill criterium track to raise money for mental health support services in the Clarence Valley.
Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Yamba's Morgan Pilley, who bases himself in Italy riding enduarnce mountain-bike events - organises an annual 24-hour ride around the Junction Hill criterium track to raise money for mental health support services in the Clarence Valley. Adam Hourigan

Growing up playing on his parents' squash courts in Yamba, it was unsurprising to see Pilley quickly climb the ranks. He was ranked number two in Australia before giving up the sport at the age of 18.

Pilley was also a state-level hockey player and state-level cross country runner, but it was on the bike where he excelled the most.

Pilley soon chased a professional career in the heart of world cycling, Europe.

He has excelled at the longer distance events, racing anywhere from 6-8 hours to up to 24 hours. He is a two-time winner of Italy's national 24-hour series and has carved out a name for himself overseas.

Pilley has since turned his focus on bringing through the next gen with his coaching. He is also the mastermind behind the Clarence Valley Ride for Youth, which has raised more than $35,000 for youth mental health in the past four years.

6. KANE DOUGLAS

THE name Douglas has been synonymous with success on the rugby field for more than two decades.

 

Australian Wallaby Kane Douglas at the naming of the Kane Douglas Rugby Field at the Yamba Buccaneers home ground on Saturday, 20th May 2017.
Australian Wallaby Kane Douglas at the naming of the Kane Douglas Rugby Field at the Yamba Buccaneers home ground on Saturday, 20th May 2017. Debrah Novak

The son of Archie and the late Trish, Kane Douglas was forced to work hard to turn his dream of playing for the Wallabies into reality.

After starting his junior career with the Yamba Buccaneers, he was quickly scooped up by the NSW Waratahs Academy and the rise to Super Rugby was fast tracked for the towering lock.

But soon after making his debut for his country, Douglas was turfed from the Tahs and found a new home in Leinster in Ireland.

He again fought his way back to be included in the Wallabies squad which made the World Cup final in 2015.

Douglas also learnt humility from a young age, and has taken that lesson on board as he uses his profile in the game to support the further development of regional and North Coast juniors.

He was humbled in May last year by the naming of Yamba's rugby field no. 2 in his honour.

5. JOHN SHELTON

HORSE trainer John Shelton has become an institution of the Clarence Valley sporting scene in his own right.

 

RETURN HOME: Trainer John Shelton with Go Dragon, who will be racing in the Clarence Coast Air Conditioning Coolroom Hire BM 68 Showcase HCP.
Grafton trainer John Shelton with Go Dragon. Jarrard Potter

From his early days as a jockey riding for veteran trainers Bob Gosling and Hunter Kilner, to taking up his own trainer's licence, success has always followed the little maestro.

Known in the racing community as Rambo, Shelton has a take no prisoners approach to his craft, always getting the best out of his horses and his jockeys.

It is the reason he is the most successful horse trainer in the region, taking out the Clarence River Jockey Club's trainer's premiership an astounding 19 times in the past 20 years.

While he tasted major success in the 2000 Ramornie with Mother's Gift, Rambo's biggest success came this year when he won the inaugural $1.3 million The Kosciuszko with Belflyer.

Shelton has also produced impressive jockeys under his care including Gai Waterhouse's regular rider Adam Hyeronimous and leading bush jockey Ben Looker.

4. JIM DOUGHERTY

JIM Dougherty's surf sport expertise is widely respected among coaches and competitors throughout Australia.

 

Jim Dougherty - awarded an OAM for services to surf lifesaving.
Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Jim Dougherty - awarded an OAM for services to surf lifesaving. Adam Hourigan

He joined Yamba Surf Life Saving Club as a nipper in 1966 and gained his Bronze Medallion in 1969.

He enjoyed many successes in the surf and sand, reaching national championships, and in more recent years has continued to excel at a national level in Masters events.

He has held positions of club captain, secretary and president and is the current surf sports director.

But it is coaching where Dougherty excelled most.

Three of his athletes - Hugh Dougherty, Alyce Bennett and the late Jacob Lollback - went on to compete in the top tier Nutri-Grain Iron Man Series at the same time.

He was awarded a Medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2014 for his ongoing commitment to surf lifesaving and the wider Clarence community.

3. CAMERON PILLEY/DONNA LOBBAN (nee URQUHART)

THEY are cousins who had a mirrored rise to the top of their sport, and after winning a joint gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, Cam Pilley and Donna Lobban could not be split in our top 10.

 

Donna Urquhart and Cameron Pilley of Australia (centre) accept their gold medals with Kipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal (left) of India silver and Joelle King and Paul Coll of New Zealand (right) bronze during the medal ceremony for the Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Squash Match on day ten of competition at the XXI Commonwealth Games at the Oxenford Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Donna Urquhart and Cameron Pilley of Australia (centre) accept their gold medals during the medal ceremony for the Mixed Doubles Gold Medal Squash Match at the XXI Commonwealth Games at the Oxenford Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday, April 14, 2018. TRACEY NEARMY

Pilley began his love affair with squash at the age of two.

He went on to become a junior national champion before also hitting his way to 15 professional tournament victories.

He has also had a successful run at the Commonwealth Games over a 12-year stretch, claiming three gold and two bronze.

The third of those gold medals was in the mixed doubles with Lobban, and was conversely her first and only games gold medal.

But Lobban has been a mainstay of the squash upper echelon, having broken into the top 20 females back in 2009.

She has been the number one Australian female for the better part of a decade, and uses her profile to encourage athletes from across regional Australia to continue pursuing their sport.

2. ANDY LANDENBERGER

GRAFTON'S resident sailor Andrew Landenberger has become an icon in his sport, and his success refuses to wilt.

 

World
2018 World 'A' Class Titles - overall winner in the classic division Andrew Landenberger. Alistair Brightman

Born into a hockey playing family, Landenberger found comfort on the undulating flow of the Clarence River. Joining the Big River Sailing Club and soon taking his talents to races across the country.

His breakthrough year came in 1989, completing a clean sweep in the state, national and world championships.

Landenberger enjoyed his biggest success in the boat in 1996, winning a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics alongside Mitch Booth in the tornado class.

It was the first Olympic sailing medal for Australia in more than two decades.

Landenberger turned his sport into a livelihood creating his sail design business Landenberger One Design. He also coached Australia to more Games medals.

He continues to give back to his local club, and only this year refound his form with a faultless world championships win.

But he has not forgotten his roots giving back to the region each year with free coaching clinics.

1. BRENT LIVERMORE

HE IS quite possibly the most successful athlete to come out of the Valley, and also one of the most humble.

 

Clarence Valley Wall of Fame inductee Brent Livermore speaks after receiving the award at the Clarence Valley Sports Awards.Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Clarence Valley Wall of Fame inductee Brent Livermore speaks after receiving the award at the 2015 Clarence Valley Sports Awards. Adam Hourigan

Livermore is an Australian hockey legend, rising through the ranks of Grafton's burgeoning association before making his first start for his country as a 21-year-old while still captaining the Australian junior team to World Cup gold.

He would go on to clinch his first major senior medal with a Commonwealth Games gold the very next year.

Livermore has won three Commonwealth Games gold medals, as well as an Olympic bronze in 2000 and gold in 2004. He captained the side to their Olympic glory in Athens.

He is one of the highest capped Australian players with more than 318 games for his nation.

Livermore has gone on to utilise his skills as a coach, leading the NSW Institute of Sport side as well as the Australian under-23.