(Clockwise from top left): Cadel Evans, Steve Smith, Ash Barty and Tim Cahill.
(Clockwise from top left): Cadel Evans, Steve Smith, Ash Barty and Tim Cahill.

The 10 best Aussie sport stars of the decade

Maybe you needed to live in Europe to fully appreciated the magnitude of Cadel Evans' 2011 achievement in winning the Tour de France.

It was one of Australia's last great sporting peaks to climb, and it came from an extremely brave ride where Evans didn't hit the front until the second last day.

But there are many exceptional performances by Australian athletes on the world stage to celebrate from the past decade.

Here are 10 of the best.

 

Cadel Evans is hugged by his BMC teammates as he crosses the finish line in the final stage of the 2011 Tour de France. Picture: AP
Cadel Evans is hugged by his BMC teammates as he crosses the finish line in the final stage of the 2011 Tour de France. Picture: AP

1. CADEL EVANS (CYCLING)

He doesn't boast the body of work of the rest of this list, but his 2011 victory in the Tour de France, where his time trial late in the race took him past his rivals, will always ensure Evans sits very high among the finest of our sporting heroes. He became the oldest to win the overall general classification in the post-war era.

 

2. SALLY PEARSON (ATHLETICS)

She retires with arguably the most decorated record of any Australian track competitor, including Olympic gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics, world championship gold in 2011 and 2017, world indoor gold in 2012, plus Commonwealth gold in 2010 and 2014. Her PB of 12.28 sec is the sixth fastest of all-time, although a "clean" time unlike some "murky" ones ahead of her.

 

3. STEVE SMITH (CRICKET)

All of his international work has taken place in the 2010-19 period, beginning as a leg-spinner who batted at eight and made 1 and 12 on debut against Pakistan at Lord's in July of 2010 to the most prolific Test batsman since Don Bradman. Smith's heroics in the Ashes series of 2019 (774 runs at 110.57, three 100s, three 50s) came after he returned from a year's suspension.

 

 

4. STEPHANIE GILMORE (SURFING)

Gilmore won four of her seven world surfing championships (matching Layne Beachley) in the past decade (2010-12-14-18) on the ASP World Tour. Her artistic style couple with pure aggression and technical genius is regarded as the inspiration for today's highly competitive women's topliners.

 

5. CAMERON SMITH (RUGBY LEAGUE)

Statistically he's already Australia's greatest and there's at least another year to come. A goalkicking hooker, the Melbourne Storm captain won the 2012 and 2017 NRL premierships and in 2017 the Golden Boot for International Player of the Year and Dally M Medal. He is the only NRL player to have gone past 400 games.

 

6. ASH BARTY (TENNIS)

Went from a talented teenager who became so disillusioned with tennis she switched to cricket, before returning to win a French Open in 2019 and end the year a clear No.1 after four singles titles and a stunning $16.6 million in prizemoney. She achieved it all in typically modest fashion.

 

 

7. SAM KERR (SOCCER)

She plays a sport that is growing faster than any other in the women's world, and as of now she ranks among the best in the business. She is the all-time leading scorer in both the US (NWSL) and the Australian W-League. She is also the only Australian player (male or female) to be short-listed for the Ballon d'Or (best in the world) in 2018 and 2019.

 

Tim Cahill’s wonder strike at the 2014 World Cup. Picture: George Salpigtidis
Tim Cahill’s wonder strike at the 2014 World Cup. Picture: George Salpigtidis

8. TIM CAHILL (SOCCER)

His legend was built at international level where he remains Australia's finest player. In the decade of 2010-19, Cahill played 71 times for the Socceroos, scoring on 31 occasions and going to three World Cups. He scored at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups including a strike against the Netherlands in 2014 which has gone down in history as one of the great World Cup goals.

 

9. JOHNATHAN THURSTON (RUGBY LEAGUE)

Three times the halfback or five-eighth known as "JT" won the Golden Boot as International Player of the Year (2011-13-15) and twice won the Dally M (2014-15) for the best player in the NRL. He was instrumental in Queensland's State of Origin dominance and in 2015 was the pivotal player when North Queensland beat the Brisbane Broncos in a thrilling NRL grand final.

 

10. TORAH BRIGHT (SNOWBOARDING)

What hasn't she done in the world of professional snowboarding, having won gold and silver at separate Winter Olympics, plus three times World Superpipe Championships and two US Opens? In 2014 Bright became the first Olympic athlete (male or female) to qualify for all three snowboarding disciplines; half-pipe, slopestyle and boarder-cross.


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