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Kieren Perkins OAM appointed Sport Australia chief

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Commonwealth Games and Olympic swimming champion Kieren Perkins OAM has been appointed the new chief executive officer of the Australian Sports Commission.

The role will see Perkins oversee high performance and participation sport as the nation embarks on the green and gold runway towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, travelling through the Birmingham 2022 and then the 2026 and 2030 Commonwealth Games on the journey.

Perkins is best known as one of Australia’s greatest ever swimmers and brings a wealth of corporate and sports administration experience to the role.

Perkins carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and competed at three Commonwealth Games, which included a four-gold medal haul at the Victoria Games in 1994. Famously, in the 1500m freestyle in Victoria, he broke his own 1500m world record, but also set a new world record for the 800m along the way.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips AM welcomed the appointment.

“Kieren Perkins knows and understands how important the Commonwealth Games is to the progression of young developing athletes and the impact this can have on their careers,” Phillips said.

Kieren made his international debut at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games at just 16, where he won the silver medal in the 1500m freestyle behind teammate Glen Housman, both swimmers broke the 15-minute barrier, a first for Perkins in what was a taste of things to come.

“Of course, Kieren then went on to become a world and Olympic champion and our team flagbearer in 1998, so he knows how important the Commonwealth Games are to Australia achieving its broader goals on the international stage, and this includes success at the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We look forward to working closely with him as we seek to achieve our mutual ambitions over the next decade.”

A four-time Olympic medallist and former world record-holder in three events, Perkins is one of the world’s best-ever long-distance swimmers, winning Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the 1500m freestyle, along with a silver medal in Sydney in the 2000 Olympics in his final race.

Perkins’ win in the 1500m freestyle in Atlanta from lane eight and after just scraping into the final, is regarded as one of the iconic moments in Australian sport. He is a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Most recently, he was the President of Swimming Australia and has previously been a Commissioner of the Australian Sports Commission (2001-2007).

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) chair Josephine Sukkar AM said: “The ASC is delighted to welcome someone of the calibre of Kieren Perkins to this important role leading Australian sport.

“We are entering one of the most exciting decades in Australian sport and Kieren is the right person to lead the ASC on this journey.

“Kieren was selected from an outstanding field of candidates, and his appointment is as a result of his past experience, and the time he continues to re-invest back into Australian sport.”

Perkins said he was excited to be stepping into the role of CEO at the ASC.

“I could not be more thrilled and honoured to be appointed to lead the ASC as Australian sport looks forward to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Perkins said.

“It’s the most amazing opportunity to help shape participation and elite sport for Australia.

“As an athlete and administrator, I have lived the importance of a symbiotic sport system that has strong grassroots participation, underpinned by volunteerism, helping uncover and develop the ambitious talent that will represent our country on the world’s biggest stages.

“My corporate experience gives me the business and relationship skills required to bring together the important stakeholders pivotal in ensuring sport flourishes.

“The decade leading to 2032 is a generational opportunity to build a lasting legacy for all sport, in an environment that allows everyone involved to safely live all of the positive life experiences sport can bring.”

Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck said: “As one of our greatest ever Olympians, Mr Perkins brings first-hand experience of high performance sport as well as an intrinsic understanding of the important role grassroots sport plays in the health and wellbeing of all Australians.”

Perkins will commence in the role in the first quarter of 2022 with a start date to be confirmed. In the interim, Rob Dalton will continue as Acting CEO.

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