A beloved member of the Commonwealth Sport Movement in Australia, Steve Moneghetti AM takes his deserved place among Australia’s most influential sportspeople.
As one of Australia’s most respected athletes and a significant off-field contributor to Australian sport and the Commonwealth Sport movement, it’s no surprise that Steve Moneghetti AM has been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Hailing from Ballarat in country Victoria, Mona’s induction to the nation’s most prestigious sporting club is a testament to his marathon contributions to sport in his post-running career.
‘Mona’ as he is affectionally known, enjoyed a stellar athletics career, taking up the mantle as Australia’s marathon man from Robert de Castella, and represented the green and gold at four Olympics and at four Commonwealth Games, winning four Commonwealth Games medals, a world championships bronze and three Olympic top-tens
In his final Commonwealth Games appearance at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Games, Moneghetti served as the Australian Team captain, a role he embraced and relished in being able to share a wealth of experience with the next generation of Australian sport stars.
Mona won bronze in the 10000m at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games where he was Australian Team captain. (CGA Archive)
Following his running career, Moneghetti transitioned into sports administration starting with his role as the chair of the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS), but it was the encouragement of then Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive officer and Life Member Perry Crosswhite which provided a new opportunity.
“I owe a lot to the VIS and certainly a lot to Perry (Crosswhite) and Commonwealth Games Australia for opening up those leadership and admin roles that have now allowed me to get this award and almost define me more than my running career,” Moneghetti said.
After serving as an Athlete Liaison Officer in Manchester in 2002, and Mayor of the Athlete’s Village at the Melbourne 2006 Games, a role that made Moneghetti wildly popular with competitors from across the Commonwealth for his personality and his encouragement of them, Crosswhite offered Mona the role of Chef de Mission at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Mona served as the Chef de Mission at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. (CGA Archive)
During the 10-year anniversary celebrations of the Delhi 2010 Games, Moneghetti reflected on the moment he was offered the role for a Games that would be like no other.
“When Perry asked me, and I said ‘I’m not worthy’ he said think about it… I reckon you are more than worthy,” Moneghetti said.
“I thought about it and accepted the role and I just tried to add value as the person who could interact with all the athletes as best I possibly could.
“It was quite late notice, just 12 months out and already it was a Games shrouded in controversy and for a job that what I initially thought ‘I’m not worthy’ to ‘I’ll give it a go’ before realising the complications of ‘OMG are these Games going to go on?’
“There were terrorism threats, concerns over money, tickets, all the controversy over whether the Games would actually ever come to fruition in the lead up and for me I can tell you one of the most important roles that I had leading in was actually ringing people (team members) and encouraging them to go.”
“I’M GOING… PUT YOUR FAITH IN ME”. THE TOUGH CALLS MONA MADE FOR DELHI 2010
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, former marathon legend Steve Moneghetti speaks to Ian Hanson about the role he believed he wasn’t worthy to fill as the Australian Team’s Chef de Mission.READ MORE
The Delhi 2010 Games proved to be a success for Moneghetti and the Australian Team who finished atop the medal tally with 177 medals, including 74 gold medals.
His successes as Chef de Mission saw Moneghetti continue in the role for the Glasgow 2014 Games and then most recently at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.
His own experiences as a former athlete provided Mona with the opportunity to be an innovator in the role of Chef de Mission, and at the forefront of important issues such as team member welfare and wellbeing.
These experiences saw Moneghetti make a decision to go against tradition at the Gold Coast 2018 Opening Ceremony and have the Australian team walk out first ahead of the Chef de Mission, an example of his ’athlete first’ focused ethos.
“I reckon it just bought the focus back onto the team being about the athletes and not sort of the peripheral stuff. And I’m proud of that. I’ve always been an athlete at heart,” Moneghetti said.
“Just because you’re the Chef de Mission, you’re not the most important person, what you are, is there to support your athletes in the team.”
As Chef de Mission, Mona was aware of how he could contribute to the success of others but also how they could contribute to the team’s success, creating a winning environment.
“I had a really good management team around me,” Moneghetti said.
“I realised that from my running career, you’ve got to have people around you that you trust, but then once you trust them, you’ve got to believe in them.”
His ambition to achieve as a team stemmed from his pride in representing Australia on a global stage.
His understanding of this importance assisted him in motivating his team to achieve to the best of their abilities and is certainly a crucial part of his inclusion in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
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“I always like to try to get the message across that they were the custodians of the Australian Commonwealth Games Team singlet, but they didn’t own it,” Moneghetti said.
“They had to respect that it was a part of the continuum.
“There had been the history of those who’d come before them… and there was going to be those who will come after them.
“But at that moment in time, they are carrying the baton for Australia. And with that comes some responsibility.
“So, the integrity and the credibility of the brand, they were responsible for that, but also, they then had the opportunity to further the brand and the name through their performance.”
After competing in four Games, serving in an official role at the Melbourne 2006 Games, and serving as Chef de Mission at three Games, Steve Moneghetti certainly proved he was the man for the job, delivering all the faith that Perry Crosswhite had in him over a decade ago.
Mona has served on the Board of the Victorian Olympic Council, has been race director for the Run for the Kids charity run in Victoria since its inception in 2006 which has raised closes to $20 million for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.
He was Chair of the VIS and an ambassador for numerous charities and events and continues his service to Australian sport as a Board director at Commonwealth Games Australia and is Deputy Chair of Sport Australia and Chair of the AIS Athlete Advisory Committee.
A leader who stood up for his team members and who has given his heart and soul to Australian sport, Mona is a deserved member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
By Jaret O’Neill for Commonwealth Games Australia.