Western Australia led the way in wheelchair sport in Australia when it was introduced in the 1950s at Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital. As our organisation grew and changed we enabled many people living with physical disability to explore an increasing range of possible sports.
We are immensely proud of our history and celebrate the successes of all of our members. Some have competed on an international stage and have recognisable names. Many however, are not household names. These are people whose drive, spirit and determination enables them to go beyond possibility. With some assistance from us, they achieve their goals and live life to its fullest potential.
Sporting Hall of Fame
Through passionate commitment and hard work some of our members reach the very pinnacle of their sports. We honour the following Sporting Hall of Fame members.
Bill Mather-Brown (1936 – )
Bill contracted poliomyelitis at two years of age and since that time showed the strength, courage and determination needed to become one of Australia’s top wheelchair athletes. He competed in several sports at the Stoke Mandeville Games (the precursor to the Paralympic Games), and then at two Paralympic Games and a Commonwealth games, being awarded a combined total of nine medals. He was awarded the Western Australian Citizen of the Year for Sport in 1981.
Frank Ponta (1935 – 2011)
Frank was something of a pioneer of sport for people with disability in Australia. When he was 18, he developed a tumour on his spine, which eventually caused paraplegia. Frank competed at the Stoke Mandeville Games (the precursor to the Paralympic Games) and then went on to compete in five Paralympic Games. He was awarded a gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal in a range of sports. Once he retired from international competition, Frank continued to contribute his expertise by coaching and mentoring other athletes. He received many awards and recognitions included being inducted into the Australian Paralympian Hall of Fame.
Elizabeth Edmondson (1950 – )
Elizabeth became a paraplegic after contracting polio as a small child and started swimming from the age of five. At only 14 she became an Australian Paralympic competitor, going on to compete in two Paralympics, winning five gold medals and one silver medal. More recently Elizabeth returned to international competition and was awarded four gold medals and one silver medals at the 2009 World Masters Games.
Lorraine Dodd (1944 – 2004)
Lorraine was an outstanding competitor and a role model for women in sport. After contracting transverse myelitis at the age of 13, she took up several sports as a part of her rehabilitation. Lorraine went on to compete in national and international games, including two Commonwealth Paraplegic Games and the 1968 Paralymic games. She was awarded medals in a range of swimming and athletics events.
Bruce Wallrodt OAM (1951 – )
Bruce was a member of the Australian Paralympic training squad for over 20 years. Following a spinal haemorrhage that left him a paraplegic at the age of 29, Bruce was encouraged to get into wheelchair basketball by Bill Mather-Brown. He competed in three Paralympics and was awarded four gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals in Shot Put, Javelin and Discus events. He has also been successful in many other competitions at the state, national and international level. Bruce was widely recognised for his achievements, and in 1992 was presented with the Medal of the Order of Australia in the general division for his contribution to sport.
Priya Cooper OAM (1974 – )
Born with cerebral palsy, Priya fell in love with swimming at a young age. She has nine gold medals won at three different Paralympic games, as well as numerous world records and world championships. Priya was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993, was named the 1995 Paralympian of the Year, was the Young Australian of the Year for Sport in 1999, received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, and was inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions in 2006. She was also chosen to carry the Australian flag at the closing ceremonies of the 1992 and 1996 Paralympic Games and was the female captain of the Australian team at the 1996 Games.
Louise Sauvage OAM (1973 – )
Louise is one of Australia’s best-known athletes. Born with myelodidplasia, a form of congenital paraplegia, Louise participated in various sporting activities from an early age. She took up competitive wheelchair racing when she was 15 and quickly set the world on fire. Louise has won nine gold and four silver medals over three Paralympics; four gold medals in four world athletics championships; and is a winner of seven marathons, including the prestigious Boston marathon – four times. The list of Louise’s awards and recognitions is extensive and includes the Female Athlete of the Year at the Sport Australia Awards in 2000.
Life Membership is awarded to members who have given at least 15 years of outstanding service to our association. We thank our following life members.
- 2012 – Desmond (Doc) Doherty
- 2011 – Wayne Robins
- 2010 – Esme Bowen
- 2008 – Doug Steele
- 2007 – Louise Sauvage OAM
- 2007 – Bruce Wallrodt OAM
- 2005 – Carilyn Holmes
- 1997 – Doug McCaffery
- 1997 – Kay Johnston
- 1995 – Robert McLennan
- 1994 – Jeff Hollands
- 1991 – Cliff Rickard
- 1991 – Norma Beer OAM
- 1986 – L Mathews Cit WA
- 1986 – John Beattie
- 1981 – Frank Ponta
- 1981 – Roger Cockerill
- 1981 – W (Bill) Mather-Brown Cit WA
- 1981 – Sir George Bedbrook Kt.OBE, St.J
- 1979 – John (Johnno) Johnston MBE, Cit WA