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School Sport history

Given the unique and diverse sporting opportunities currently available through NSW public schools, it's hard to imagine a time when there were no school sporting carnivals, no inter-school sporting competitions and limited access to playing fields and sporting facilities. In a country where sport is so much a part of everyday life, it's no surprise that some of Australia's finest sportsmen and women developed their skills in the nursery of NSW public schools.


This timeline reflects the place of school sport in the history of NSW and Australia and how public school sport graduates have progressed to represent their state and country in some of the major sporting events held globally over the past 130 years. The often untold story is a remarkable tale of hard work, dedication and struggle - of extraordinary and at times mundane events set against a backdrop of significant social change as the state of NSW developed from an infant colony to a sophisticated thriving community.  In many ways the growth of competitive sport in NSW mirrors the great changes that have taken place in our society and in education during this period.


Victor Trumper


Cricket - Crown Street Public School

Selected in the 1899 Australian team that toured England. Considered one of the most naturally talented cricketers to have played the game. At the 1895 NSWPSAAA Annual Sports Carnival, Trumper won the fielding / throwing of a cricket ball competition. 

Herbert (Dally) Messenger


Rugby Union/ Rugby League - Double Bay Public School

Considered one of the greatest ever players in either Rugby Union or Rugby League. Messenger played two Rugby Union tests and seven Rugby League tests. Transferred from Rugby Union to Rugby League to become a professional player.

Harold Hardwick 


 Swimming - Fort Street Model School

All Schools Swimming Championships gold medallist 1905.

Stockholm Olympic Games (1912) - gold medallist 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

Department of Education - Director of Physical Education (ret 1953).

Fanny Durack


Swimming - Crown Street Public School

From 1910 – 1918, Fanny was considered the world’s greatest female swimmer over all distances. Won a gold medal at the Stockholm Olympic Games for the 100m freestyle.



Andrew 'Boy' Charlton


Swimming - Manly Village Public School

Attended three Olympic Games – 1924, 1928 and 1932, winning a total of five medals including one gold.


Albert (Tibby) Cotter


Cricket - Forest Lodge Public School

He was a fast bowler who toured England in 1905. Tragically, Albert Cotter was killed at the Battle of Beersheba in 1917. The pedestrian bridge across Anzac Parade leading to the SCG is named in his honour.



Sir Donald Bradman AC


Cricket - Bowral Public School

Acknowledged as the greatest cricketer of all time. His extraordinary achievements lifted the nation during the Great Depression.  After World War II, at 37 years of age Bradman returned to Test Match cricket in the 1945-46 series against England and again for the 1947-48 "Invincibles" Tour of England. Bradman’s presence in these matches again raised the spirits of Australia.



Ken Rosewall AM, MBE


Tennis - Rockdale Public School

Won his first Australian Open Tennis Championship in 1953, repeating this effort in 1955, 1971 and 1972. He also won the French Open in 1953 and 1968, US Open winner 1956 and 1970. In all he won 23 Tennis majors including eight grand slam singles titles.

Arthur Buchan



Rugby - Sydney Technical High School

Selected for the 1946 Wallabies. Played ten Rugby tests for Australia.  Also became Deputy Director General, NSW Department of Education.

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC, CVO, MBE


Athletics (Track) - Coffs Harbour and Cooerwull Public Schools, Lithgow High

1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, won two sprinting gold medals.

Became Governor of South Australia.



Betty Cuthbert AC, MBE


Athletics (Track) - Ermington Public School, Parramatta Domestic Home Science School

Triple Athletics gold medallist at the Melbourne Olympics (100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m relay).

Gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics (1964) in the 400m.

Dawn Fraser AC, MBE


Swimming - Birchgrove Public School, Leichhardt High

Won her first 100m gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics. Subsequently won gold medals in Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964 (one of only three swimmers to win the same event at three Olympic Games).

Lew Hoad

Photo by Ern McQuillan


Tennis - Glebe Public School

Won the Australian Open Tennis Championship in 1956.

Won four major Tennis titles and was a part of three Davis Cup victories.


Arthur Summons and Norm Provan


Rugby Union/ Rugby League - Homebush Boys High School and Willoughby Public School/ Crows Nest Technical High School

Arthur Summons along with Norm Provan are immortalised on the trophy presented to the winners of the NRL Grand Final annually. The trophy was modelled off the photo taken by John O’Grady after the 1963 Grand Final.

Sir John (Jack) Brabham AO, OBE


Motor Racing - Hurstville Boys High School

In 1959 won his first of three Formula 1 World Motor Racing Championships. The first Australian ever to win the world title.



Daphne Hilton (nee Ceeney) and Gary Hooper MBE 



Paralympic Games - Harden/ Murrumburrah, Toronto Public School

Australia sent a team of 12 athletes to the Rome Paralympics, including former public school students Daphne Ceeney (Harden/Murrumburrah) and Gary Hooper (Toronto PS). Daphne Ceeney went on to win 14 medals in a variety of sports over three Paralympic games. Gary Hooper won seven medals in the same three Paralympics.

Bernard (Midget) Farrelly AM


Surfing - Manly Village Public School

Won the 1964 inaugural World Surfing Championships.  Considered a pioneer of surfing in Australia.

Heather McKay AO, MBE


Squash - Queanbeyan West Public School, Queanbeyan High School

In 1962 won her first British Open (at that time considered the World Championship) and then held this title for 15 consecutive years.

Richie Benaud OBE


Cricket - Jugiong Public School, Parramatta High School

Appointed as Australian Men’s Cricket Team Captain in 1958 - 1964.  He became the first cricketer to attain 200 test wickets and 2000 test runs. On retirement he became the pre-eminent cricket commentator and respected sports journalist.



Evonne Goolagong Cawley AC, MBE


Tennis - Barellan Central School, Willoughby Girls High School

Won her first Wimbledon title in 1971. In total Evonne won seven grand slam singles titles.



Graham Windeatt


Swimming - Revesby Public School, East Hills Boys High School

At the 1971 NSWCHSSA Swimming Championships Graham broke the World 800m freestyle record. He went onto represent Australia at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games where he won a silver medal in the 1500m.

Shane Gould AM, MBE


Swimming - Miranda Public School, Epping North Public School, Turramurra High School

Shane competed at the Munich Olympic Games while a student at Turramurra High School winning three gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Gail Neall also from Turramurra High won a gold medal in the 200m butterfly. What an extraordinary double.

David Woods


Water Polo - Birchgrove Public School, Drummoyne Boys High School

David represented at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. He also represented at two World Championships and coached the Australian Women’s team which included his daughter Taryn, whilst son Gavin has represented Australia in Water Polo at four Olympic Games. David was President of the NSWCHSSA from 1984 until 1991.



Michelle Ford, MBE


Swimming - St George Girls High School

At the 1980 Moscow Olympics Michelle won the gold medal in the 800m freestyle and a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly.

Inaugural Rugby League Immortals


In 1991 both Bob Fulton AM (Unanderra Public School and Dapto High School) and Reg Gasnier AM (Sydney Technical High School) were inducted as Rugby League Immortals. 



Kevin Nichols OAM


Cycling - Grafton/ South Grafton High School

Captain of the 1984 cycling team that competed at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Was a member of the gold medal winning Pursuit team.

Mark (AM), Gary, Glen and Macia Ella




Rugby and Netball - La Perouse Public School, Matraville High School

The Ella family came to prominence when Mark, Gary and Glen Ella represented Australia in Rugby Union and were part of the 1984 Grand Slam winning team. In 1986 Marcia Ella represented Australia in Netball against New Zealand.

Craig Johnston


Football - Lake Macquarie (Booragul) High School

Scored a goal for Liverpool in their 3-1 victory over Everton in the 1986 FA Cup Final. A pioneer for Australian players securing contracts to play Football overseas.

Anne Sargeant OAM


Netball - Forestville Public School, Killarney Heights High School

Australian Netball player. Represented from 1978 until 1988, captaining the team for six years.

Stephen (AO) and Mark Waugh (AM)



Cricket - Panania Public School, East Hills Boys High School

Steve and Mark were both awarded CHS cricket Blues in 1984. In 1983 Steve won a CHS Soccer Blue and the President’s Award. The twins represented the Australian Cricket team with distinction with Steven captaining the team in 57 test matches and 106 One Day Internationals.

Kerry Saxby-Junna AM


Athletics - Ballina High School

Elite race walker whose career spanned 1980 and 1990’s. Kerry won two Commonwealth Games gold medals and set 32 world records during her career.

Layne Beachley AO


Surfing - Balgowlah Heights Public School, Mackellar Girls High School

In 1990 Layne won the first of her seven World Surfing titles. Layne was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.



Alyson Annan OAM


Hockey - Macquarie Fields Public School and Macquarie Fields High School

In 1996, Alyson won her first of two Olympic gold medals in Atlanta. She also won two World Cup Golds and four Champions Trophy gold medals. Alyson represented Australia in 228 international matches.

Amy Winters OAM


Paralympic Athlete - Kempsey West Public School, Kempsey High School

Three time gold medallist at the Paralympics 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Liesl Tesch AM


Paralympic Athlete - Toronto High School

Three time gold medallist at the Paralympics 1996, 2000 and 2004 representing in both Basketball and Sailing

Greg Welch


Triathlete - Greenacre Public School, Punchbowl Boys High School

A triathlete acknowledged as one of the greatest in history for having won the triathlete “grand slam” including the ITU Triathlon World Championship (1990), the Ironman World Championship (1994), the Duathlon Championship (1993) and the Long Course Triathlon World Championship.



Ian Thorpe AM


Swimming - Milperra Public School, East Hills Boys High School

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics Ian won three gold medals and set three world records in swimming. In total Ian won five gold medals and 11 World Championship medals.

Lauren Jackson AO


Basketball - Thurgoona Public School, Murray High School

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were her first Olympic Games. Lauren subsequently has played in three more Olympics; 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Debbie Watson OAM


Water Polo - Mackellar Girls High School

Captained gold medal winning Australian Women’s Water Polo team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Other team members were Taryn Woods, Liz Weekes (Fort Street), Bronwyn Mayer (Hunters Hill), Yvette Higgins (Riverside Girls) and Simone Hankin (Picnic Point).

Kurt Fearnley AO


Paralympic Athlete - Blayney Public School, Blayney High School

At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games he won two silver medals. In total Kurt competed at five Olympic games winning three Olympic gold medals.



Tim Cahill


Football - Bexley North/ Annandale North Public School, Tempe and Kingsgrove High School

Tim has represented Australia on 104 occasions, scoring 50 goals. He has had a stellar career playing for various overseas and Australian teams.

Torah Bright


Snowsports - Cooma North Public School

Torah won an Olympic gold medal in the Half Pipe at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

John Longmire


Australian Rules - Corowa Public School, Corowa High School

After a successful playing career, John coached the Sydney Swans to the AFL Premiership flag in 2012.

James Spithill


Sailing - Pittwater High School

Youngest ever skipper to win the America's Cup in 2010. He defended this title in 2013. Was the helmsman of Comanche that won the Sydney to Hobart in 2017.

Steven Smith



Cricket - Alfords Point Public School, Menai High School

Steven Smith is considered one of the most outstanding cricketers of any era. He was appointed as Australian Cricket Captain in 2015. Steven joins a number of Australian Cricket Captains to graduate from NSW Public Schools.

Others include Bill Brown OAM (Petersham PS), Sir Donald Bradman AC (Bowral PS), Arthur Morris MBE (Canterbury Boys HS), Ian Craig OAM (North Sydney Boys HS), Richie Benaud OBE (Jugiong PS and Parramatta HS), Bob Simpson AO (Earlwood PS and Tempe HS), Allan Border AO (North Sydney BHS), Mark Taylor AO (Chatswood HS), Steven Waugh AO (Panania South PS and East Hills Boys HS), Adam Gilchrist AM (Deniliquin PS and Kadina HS), Michael Clarke AO (Marsden Rd PS and Westfields Sports), Brad Haddin (Karabar HS)  and David Warner (Matraville PS and Randwick BHS).

Jessica Fox


Canoeing - Blaxland East Public School, Blaxland High School

Multiple winner of World Championship gold medals and Olympic medallist.

Dani Samuels


Athletics - Merrylands Public School, Westfields Sports High School

Youngest ever female winner of Discus at the world championships.

Stephanie Gilmore

Photo by Kirstin Scholtz (ASP)


Surfing - Kingscliff Public School, Kingscliff High School

Seven time ASP world surfing champion.

Dr Jana Pittman


Athletics (Track) - Matthew Pearce Public School, Girraween High School

Two time 400 metre hurdles world champion and four times Commonwealth Games gold medallist. Jana Pittman also competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Bobsleigh event, thereby becoming the only female to represent Australia at both summer and winter Olympics.

Prue Watt OAM


Paralympic Swimming - Frank Partridge VC Public School, Newcastle High School

Paralympic Swimming gold medallist representing at four Paralympic Games.

Ellyse Perry


Cricket/ Football - Beecroft Public School

Represented Australia in both Football and Cricket at the age of 16 and is now is considered to be one of the greatest female cricketers of all time.

Rhiannan Iffland


Trampolining/ High Diving - Nords Wharf Public School, Belmont/ Concord High School

Rhiannan was a champion Trampolinist and Diver at school. In 2017 and 2019 she won the World High Diving Championships and joined the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series where she has had four championships consecutively.

Peter Leek OAM


Paralympic Swimmer - Oxley Park Public School, Colyton High School

In the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and World Championship events Peter Leek has won 20 medals including 11 gold.

Jonah Bolden


Basketball - Homebush Boys High School

Australian Representative and has also played in the NBL for both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns.



For one of the few times in history the Olympics were postponed due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. All sporting codes from professional to community and school levels were also halted and resumed in various forms in accordance with government health regulations.


Please note: this timeline is a work in progress. Suggestions are welcomed and can be emailed to