Terrific Tasmanian’s Honoured with Australian Sports Medal

By Brad Marais


Five Tasmanian Team Members have been recognised with the prestigious medal for their efforts at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.


Tasmanian-born and based athletes have become the latest members of Australia’s history-making team at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to be bestowed with the prestigious Australian Sports Medal.

The five attendees, who were presented with their medals by Tasmanian Governor the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, included two-time Commonwealth Games lawn bowls gold medallist Rebecca Van Asch, cyclist Sam Fox, sprinter Jacob Despard, Para-triathlete Erica Burleigh and Para-triathlete guide Hayden Armstrong.

Over 450 team members have been nominated by Commonwealth Games Australia to receive the Australian Sports Medal, after the Australian team topped the overall medal table at the Birmingham Games, with 178 medals, including 67 gold, 57 silver and 54 bronze.

Each of the Australian Team Members experienced their own unique journey to the Birmingham Games, for many it was their debut experience donning the green and gold at the Commonwealth Games, many were returning for their second, third and even more Games, while for some Team Members the Games served as a swansong for their illustrious careers.

What all the Team Members shared though was that their efforts resulted in Australia retaining the mantle as the number 1 nation at the Commonwealth Games.

A feat worthy of the Australian Sports Medal, and for two-time Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rebecca Van Asch, the Games in Birmingham and the prestigious medal are an apt close to her illustrious lawn bowls career.

‘It’s an absolute honour to be receiving the Australian Sports Medal,” Van Asch said.

“Being an Australian representative is one of the greatest privileges and it is very humbling to be recognised in this way.”



The idea of being in Birmingham hadn’t even crossed the mind of Erica Burleigh, until early 2022 when she began competing in triathlon events at the age of 39, driven by the feats of fellow Tasmanian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ariarne Titmus at the Tokyo Olympics.

Burleigh was Australia’s sole female para-triathlete at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, it was her first event wearing green and gold on the international stage and competed valiantly to finish sixth with guide Felicity Craddick.

Mountain biker Sam Fox was another athlete who thought competing in Birmingham was a mountain too steep to climb, but with hard work and dedication, Fox made his debut at the Games.

Earning selection to the Australian Commonwealth Games Team was a milestone in the promising career of Jacob Despard.

The Hobart born sprinted competed in Australia’s men’s 4x100m relay, and while sadly the team missed out on the final, Despard reflected on his time in Birmingham with positivity and fondness.

“It’s been a lifelong goal to compete at the Commonwealth Games,” Despard said.

“Competing in front of a packed stadium was the biggest highlight.”

At the age of 43, Hayden Armstrong competed in the Men’s PTVI Triathlon event, performing the role of a guide for teammate Gerrard Gosens OAM.

After being an “amateur triathlete” himself, competing at the Games in Birmingham for Australia with Gosens was a massive career highlight.

“Being able to give back to the sport of triathlon and help another athlete fulfil their goal of competing at the Commonwealth Games was incredible,” Armstrong said.

During an intimate event at Government House, her Excellency Tasmanian Governor, Honourable Barbara Baker AC congratulated all team members for their perseverance during the games.

“To be selected to represent your country in a sporting endeavour is evidence of your abilities, training and perseverance,” Baker said.

“I congratulate your all on your efforts.”

Commonwealth Games Australia Board Member Marlene Elliot was thrilled for the Team Members and celebrated all the Australian Team Members hard work, determination and resilience in the lead-up to and during the Birmingham Games.

“I’m very proud of the significant investment we at Commonwealth Games Australia make in preparing and sending our team to the Games,” Elliot said.

“The great Aussie resiliency and spirit rose to the next level in Birmingham.

“Congratulations again to all recipients of the Australian Sports Medal.”

The evening took place as part of continued celebrations for Australian Birmingham Team members with further events and celebrations continuing around the nation in the weeks and months to come.



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