Ron Clarke’s enduring legacy in Australian sport continues to be honoured, with the awarding of the 2023 Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship.
Netballer Leesa Mi Mi has been announced as the recipient of the 2023 scholarship, with the initiative providing meaningful support to aspiring young Australian athletes.
The scholarship is funded by Commonwealth Games Australia in partnership with Griffith University and is a legacy of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
For Leesa, who was ‘so grateful’ to receive the scholarship, this opportunity represents a chance to continue to pursue her studies in a Bachelor of Education, while also ‘actively pursuing a professional netball career.’
“With this scholarship, I will be able to prioritise my studies and my sporting commitments,” Leesa said.
Chasing a contract to play in the Suncorp Super Netball competition in 2024, and with an aim to eventually be a member of the Australian Diamonds Netball Team, support like this provides athletes with the means to follow their dreams, while also considering their post-sport careers.
“My sporting goal is to make the Australian Netball Squad for the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.”
“I am studying to be a primary school teacher majoring in Health and Physical Education, and my academic goal is to finish my teaching degree and inspire young children within schools to follow their dreams.”
Professor Cindy Shannon AM, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Indigenous, Diversity and Inclusion, praised Leesa for her commitment and dedication to her sport and studies.
“We are incredibly pleased that this Scholarship has been awarded to Leesa Mi Mi, an inspiration on and off the netball court and in her Bachelor of Education studies at Griffith University,” Shannon said.
“Griffith University is very pleased to work with Commonwealth Games Australia in their support for the Ron Clarke Brighter Futures Scholarship.”
“The Ron Clarke Brighter Futures Scholarship encourages Indigenous elite athletes in their pursuit of sporting and academic excellence. As highlighted through this week’s National NAIDOC Awards, sports stars inspire our young people. Sport is often the glue in the Community, showcasing the great talents of, and maximising the opportunities available to Indigenous young people.”
Griffith University has been the choice of education for many Commonwealth Games Australia team members over the years, including 14-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Emma McKeon OAM, Birmingham 2022 gold medallist in the discus throw Matt Denny, four-time Games gold medallist Madison de Rozario, and nine-time Commonwealth Games medallist Cameron McEvoy.
Ron Clark AO MBE was an Australian sporting icon. A world junior record holder, Clarke lit the flame at Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games opening ceremony, won Olympic bronze in the 10,000m on Tokyo in 1964 and won three Commonwealth Games silver medals – the three-mile event at the Perth 1962 Games and in the three and six-mile events in the Kingston 1966 Games in Jamaica.
Setting 17 world records over distances from two miles to 20km, Clarke was one of the inaugural inductees in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Ron served as Mayor of the City of the Gold Coast between 2004 and 2012 and was instrumental in the Gold Coast being selected in 2011 to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship is awarded to student athletes who compete in a Commonwealth Games sport and are a member of the Griffith Sports College. It is designed to provide financial support for young Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander student athletes who study at Griffith University.